Founded in 1989, Pilipinos for Community Health has grown into a large, active student-run organization with 40 active volunteers and a board of 15 dedicated directors. Through their three components, Community Outreach, Preventive Health, and Pre-health Advising and Mentorship, PCH strives to raise awareness about health issues and promote healthy lifestyles in the Pilipino community. Based upon the group’s dedication and achievements this year, the UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows has awarded Pilipinos for Community Health the Bruin Heroes’ Award for Winter Quarter 2011.
PCH undertakes numerous programs, one of them being the Medical Outreach Project, which provides the international service aspect of the organization. For this project, PCH hosts a formal benefit dinner every other year to fundraise money to purchase and send medical supplies to two rural areas in the Philippines the following year. Sampaguita Iaquinto, the Community Outreach director for PCH, visited one of the clinics in the Philippines last summer and observed the lack of health care along with the continuous need for basic medical supplies. “The principal of the school is very grateful for the supplies and thinks PCH makes a significant difference,” said Iaquinto.
Additionally, PCH regularly attends health sites six times per quarter in Carson and Panorama city to provide free blood pressure and BMI screenings to over 30 community members each visit. Furthermore, just this past month, Pilipinos for Community Health collaborated with two other UCLA health projects, Asian Pacific Health Corps and Latino Student Health Project, in hosting the 10th annual Our Lady of Peace Health Fair at the Parish in North Hills. The health fair offered free health screenings, including mammograms, pap smears, stroke screenings, dental, glucose and cholesterol, as well as health education and resources. Over 400 community members attended, many of them with low-income and lack basic health insurance. “At the health fair, I encountered a lady who told me that her husband had never seen a doctor,” said Iaquinto.
With the hopes of providing further outreach to the community, PCH established a new program this year that provides companionship to seniors at elderly caregiving facilities. PCH is also in the process of implementing their first health fair independently this Spring quarter. “Pilipinos are dispersed throughout California. There’s really no district with a high concentration of Pilipinos when compared to other groups, which makes it difficult. Though all people in need will be welcome to attend, we want to organize this health fair to target the Pilipino community, creating a safe space for people who might be uninsured or undocumented to receive basic health services” said Gabriel Gomez, the External Director for PCH.
Tying health and community service, Pilipinos for Community Health is a well-rounded organization that serves the community on a multi-level basis: internationally for the Philippines, locally for the greater Los Angeles area through their health sites, and at UCLA for its members, who gain an enriching and meaningful experience through community service.