Relieving poverty and thriving at any age

September 06, 2017

At 70 years old, Georgina Miranda is still dancing, jumping and twirling in her weekly Zumba class. In fact, in the past year, she’s rarely missed a class, which is something she sees as a chance to stay healthy while socializing with others. Her class is offered through Meet Each Need With Dignity (MEND) and co-sponsored by Providence Health & Services in Southern California.

Georgina, in the middle, at her Zumba class, co-sponsored by Providence Health & Services in Southern California.

Georgina, in the middle, at Zumba class.

Georgina was introduced to MEND in 2007 when she lost her home due to unforeseen circumstances. She began receiving services from MEND’s food bank, clothing center and medical and dental clinics to help her get back on her feet.

Suffering from a bout of anxiety and depression, her friend encouraged her to attend a Zumba class as a “fun way” to exercise and work through her mental health issues. Eager to become her best self, Georgina seized on the opportunity and has not looked back since.

“This was the easiest decision I have had to make in a long time. I am so grateful to MEND, Providence, and my Zumba instructors for giving me a chance to feel better about myself,” says Georgina.

MENDing one life at a time

Located in California’s San Fernando Valley, MEND is a social service agency that works to relieve the effects of poverty by providing basic human needs, as well as tools to achieve self-reliance through job skills training, computer classes, English as a Second Language classes, and youth enrichment.

In partnership with Providence Holy Cross Medical Center and Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, MEND provides Zumba classes twice a week for clients through their Weight Management Program and Diabetes Education Program.

Georgina credits these classes with keeping her cholesterol levels low and her weight down. Thanks to MEND, she says, she’s learned how to eat healthier and make better lifestyle choices. Now when she hears about her friends going through a difficult time, she tells them about resources offered through MEND. “Once you get to my age, the work offers stop and MEND is there to help with everything you may need,” she says.

With her new found self-confidence, Georgina now volunteers at a local church where she is “paying it forward” as MEND has done for her.

A 20-year partnership to help those most vulnerable

Providence Health & Services in Southern California began partnering with MEND over 20 years ago, as a direct response to Providence’s community health needs assessment, which found that services to relieve the effects of poverty in this region of the San Fernando Valley was an area of great need.

Through a total community benefit investment of $65,000 in 2016, Providence is able to provide MEND patients with free Zumba classes, free assistance with CalFresh, Covered CA, and Medi-Cal applications, linkages for our emergency department patients to medical appointments at MEND, and financial assistance to support nutrition education and wellness activities for diabetic patients, cooking demonstrations, oral health education and garden training.