On April 22, 2010 MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger was honored by the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center Failure to Thrive Clinic (FTT) at the Department of Pediatrics’ first Donor Luncheon. The luncheon for two dozen, complete with individual thank-you placemats made by the Department’s young patients, was held in the courtyard of the hospital playground. I had the opportunity to attend as MAZON’s representative and it was truly a privilege to accept this honor from an exceptional MAZON grantee.
Adjacent to the courtyard is the Department of Pediatrics building that contains Olga De Jesús’s office. For over a quarter of a century, Olga De Jesús has been in the business of caring for the health of children who “fail to thrive,” a medical condition which limits physical growth, due to illness, poverty, or family tribulations. Olga is the Program Coordinator and Case Manager of the FTT Clinic, a MAZON grantee since 1998.
Olga’s work and the depth of her involvement are multifaceted. She conducts home visits, advocates on behalf of her young patients, and serves as a link between each family and community resources and public benefits (WIC, SNAP/food stamps, CHIP). Many of her patients are US-citizens born to immigrant parents who do not know how, or even that they can, access food, benefits, and resources for their children. The majority of these children are between the ages of just a few months to five-years-old. Olga’s work ensures that these at-risk children have their nutritional needs met during critical years of development.
Through successful case management, Olga helps families with immediate food insecurity and encourages the use of public nutritional resources to assist these families with their long-term needs. Olga’s invaluable position as a caring, committed advocate for FTT children, a resource to parents, and as a liaison for the local WIC office makes the Failure to Thrive Clinic an exemplary MAZON grantee with a successful track record and proven results.
Although this was the first donor appreciation luncheon, MAZON’s affiliation with the FTT Clinic and Olga De Jesús has endured for over a decade. A healthy and lasting relationship, both organizations continue to share in the success of collaborative efforts through determination and support. I look forward to the coming year where, with your support, MAZON will continue to sustain the FTT Clinic in their mission to help some of the most vulnerable children in Los Angeles.