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An Impactful Earache (by AmeriCorps member Mayra Duran)

June 19, 2012

MLK Day 2012 was an extraordinary day! I remember reading an email regarding a service project for the AmeriCorps members. Like always, I was ready to volunteer. However, I wasn’t expecting to be involved in a web of resources. The day was packed with chores and eager volunteers. Strangers became friends and smiles were simply contagious. I was sworn into a Project Leader position and I was clueless on what exactly to do; so I did what others would do in my situation, I faked it till I made it! Then, natural leadership skills kicked into gear. I had a blast meeting different members. During orientation, everyone was informed on all the services offered by or through City Impact. That particular information must have dodged my memory bank.

A couple of weeks ago, I was stationed at the Career Fair at the College of Southern Nevada West Charleston Campus, with my fellow member, Jon Park. We spoke on a million topics and one of those topics happened to be dental referrals. He casually brought up the City Impact Center and encouraged me to look into it.  I did, but wasn’t able to be seen for the particular need I was requesting. Then, something caught my eye. Their H.O.P.E medical clinic was open to low-income and uninsured residents. Let me just add that I thought I was dying of wisdom tooth pain! Then, my thoughts shifted to being 100% positive it was an earache. Point was, I just couldn’t bear the pain any longer and needed to see a doctor ASAP. I walked into a clinic that brought me back to childhood. I spent my summers in Mexico on my grandparents’ farm. I thought they would bill me later; enough to give me time to pay. I was treated by extremely motivational and happy staff composed of mostly volunteers. I was in so much pain, I was in tears; I just needed help, please! And I received much more than that.

Then the moment of truth came; my bill. I was told the cost for the services performed equaled to $200. However, I was placed in a type of payment plan; it was called “Pay-It-Forward.” My payment was community service; to help others as I was helped. I was asked to write to the clinic within one month of my appointment to share my “good deeds”. I have no concrete words to even begin to describe the feeling that overwhelmed my body.  This was sincere humanitarian work at its best. Funny how I never thought it began with an email. Networking changes lives.  This experience reminds that people never know who they help and how it helps them. Pay-It-Forward is a chain reaction!

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