By Yara Enamorado
Our calling as a faith-based organization is to live God’s love, to be His hands and feet. As the apostle John writes, “We love each other because he loved us first” (1 John 4:19, NLT). At Adventist Health, our value of “Be a force for good” leads us to take action in our community. We know God’s goodness and love, and in return we want to share that with others.
Throughout these months of global pandemic fear, anxiety, loss, and suffering, Adventist Health has had the opportunity to put into action our mission of living God’s love in the most unique and trying of circumstances. It’s through God’s grace and mercy that we can testify to His work through us as a system.
Our hospitals serve thousands of patients every day. Continual safety measures remain a top priority, as is reminding and reassuring our community that our hospitals are safe and ready to serve them. But it doesn’t stop there. In addition to tirelessly caring for COVID-19 patients in California, Oregon, and Hawaii on the front lines of the pandemic, team members are going beyond the hospital walls to care for their communities.
In Southern California, for example, we are seeing daily blessings as our hospitals are both receiving and giving an abundance of support.
In Simi Valley, Adventist Health donated thousands of masks and gloves to the 140+ postal carriers in the community. Additionally, Adventist Health repurposed donated foods to put together over 260 goody bags, which they gave to the three post offices in Simi Valley. These essential frontline associates were thrilled and thankful for the support. Kathryn Stiles, director of community integration at Adventist Health Simi Valley, said, “We are blessed to live in a resilient and loving community. They have shown an outpouring of support for the hospital and our associates, and in turn, we have been able to support many of our community nonprofits and other essential associates who are doing heroic things every day.”
In Glendale, Adventist Health is leading a virtual programming initiative to reach out to seniors who are among the most affected by this pandemic and quarantine. From the start, Melissa Varraveto, senior community outreach associate, and her team made more than 1,500 phone calls to seniors in the Glendale community to provide comfort, support, and hope. They also aim to launch a variety of virtual programs from fitness classes to diabetes workshops. This is alongside their long-standing partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, which will also offer virtual workshops.
To provide food security and wellness checks to the most vulnerable community members in Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles—seniors, homeless, undocumented men and women, and their families—Adventist Health White Memorial joined USC Keck, WELA YMCA, and volunteers in making thousands of telephonic wellness assessments to identify those in need of food or suffering from mental stress during self-isolation. Within the first week of this enterprise, 250 seniors were provided with a week’s worth of food. Since then, more than 100,000 deliveries have been made.
All of these stories reflect our associates’ living our mission of love. As Ellen White writes in Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, “It is not earthly rank, nor birth, nor nationality, nor religious privilege, which proves that we are members of the family of God; it is love, a love that embraces all humanity” (p. 75).
Throughout California, Adventist Health and its partners have distributed more than 2 million pounds of food. We will continue to work and partner with organizations to bring relief and aid to those in need. Furthermore, as with the community, we are actively supporting our own associates and have disbursed over $855,000 in direct associate aid across our system.
The pandemic is not over. Although the rates of positive cases and hospitalizations fluctuate, we still have some time to go. Adventist Health will not cease to care for and love its neighbors. Global Missions System Lead John Schroer said he is proud of the work the Lord has done through our system. “It is truly inspiring to see the love and support Adventist Health is pouring into the community during this pandemic. We are committed now more than ever to respond to our communities’ needs and will continue to live God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness, and hope.”