I am a former law enforcement officer in Oregon and have embarked on my encore.
I work now as a manager at Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, which provides high-quality, comprehensive and culturally appropriate primary health care in rural Oregon, with a special emphasis on migrant and seasonal farmworkers and others with barriers to receiving healthcare.
I work alongside the School Based Health Center director, and together we manage six school-based health centers (SBHCs) in two counties. I do not work directly with the kiddos – I help manage staff and operations at the clinics. I began as a part-time project manager through the Encore.org Fellowships program. I was hired to work on the building of two of the school-based centers, and I fell in love with the program. The centers provide a safe, easily accessible clinic for students, and often, their younger siblings. (All six clinics are located on high school campuses.)
Small teams offer medical, mental health and dental services; youth engagement specialists work with the kids to prevent bullying, learn about sexual safety, create running and fitness clubs, and discuss myriad of social justice topics. I am inspired by the awareness and caring of today’s youth.
Today, Virginia Garcia provides healthcare services to more than 45,000 patients a year via primary care clinics and pharmacies, five dental offices and these school-based health centers. We also provide outreach to schools, community health fairs and to migrant and seasonal farmworkers at local camps and commercial nurseries through our mobile clinic.
For the children, it provides all of the health and social services listed above. For me, it has provided a second opportunity to serve beyond my law enforcement career. I play a tiny part in ensuring the next generation has a healthy foundation and thus, a greater chance for success creating and achieving their dreams.