¡Nos Vemos Pronto!
El que mucho se despide pocas ganas tiene de irse. I remember my first night of outreach as a SAF fellow in 2015. It was warm that night and I remember fireflies flickering every now and then as we waited for the guys to come out of their house to register. It was very curvy along the way, but it was worth it as I took in the amazing view of the mountains and sunset behind them. We went out to a camp in Rosman and I was thrust into the world of health assessments and health education. In December 2015, I transitioned from being a SAF fellow to join Vecinos full-time as their Wellness Program Coordinator! It’s been 3 years now and I still get excited when we go on outreach to visit the guys. It’s exciting seeing them come back each season and asking how their families are doing back home, but also to meet newcomers and ask about their experience and welcome them to the area. I’ll miss the home-visits with patients to check their blood pressure/blood sugar logs but even more the conversations about family and anything else they had going on. I can’t help but smile as I reminisce on all the moments spent with patients during rides to appointments, knocking on doors delivering food boxes, and the late evenings spent with the women of Nuestra Huerta. It’s been an incredible journey and one filled with a rollercoaster of emotions from happiness, frustration, excitement, and everything in between.
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to serve others as I was once a recipient of services like the ones Vecinos provides. It felt great to come back full circle and help others, mi gente. Que siempre me recibía con las puertas abiertas y de vez en cuando un taco en la mano. Moving to new places is nothing new to me. Since I was a child it was something my family did constantly to find better job opportunities, but leaving Vecinos and the community is bittersweet. The Vecinos team members have become more than coworkers; they’re family. Our office culture is so unique because we are all passionate about the work we do and are always supportive of each other. We’ve been through so much. We’ve gained new patients as new babies are born and families move to the area, but we’ve also lost some. Rest in peace, even as I leave, tu recuerdo siempre estará conmigo. I thank every one of the team members — those present and those that have moved on to other endeavors — as I’ve learned something from each person I had the chance to work with. I’m forever grateful to the patients, the Vecinos team, and everyone at NCFHP. They’ve made an impact and empowered me to continue my journey as I start Physician Assistant school at MUSC and help in addressing the need for bilingual providers to serve the community. I hope to come back to serve Vecinos in a different capacity, and so I won’t say “goodbye,” but rather “until next time!”
Con mucho cariño,
Karla Mendoza Rodriguez