First AME’s Biddy Mason Community Wellness Center to Offer Health Care Services to Underserved

By: D.T. Carson

      On Friday, September 29, SLACDEC (South Los Angeles Community Development & Empowerment Corporation)—the non-profit of First AME Church —will mark the official opening of the Biddy Mason Community Wellness Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and special guests, including Charles Drew University President David Carlisle, First AME Pastor J. Edgar Boyd and Rev. Dr. Thema Bryant who was recently named president of the American Psychological Association.

      The center will offer health care evaluation and assessments, screenings, nutrition classes and mental health counseling along with other services for those in the community who are underserved and underinsured.

      “With the Biddy Mason Community Wellness Center, we are providing hope to people that don’t have hope. Many are them have been negatively impacted by taboos and myths surrounding medical care,” said Rev. Judi Wortham, who serves as executive director of SLADEC. “When I did the research, I was flabbergasted by the stats of the people in this community who are not receiving quality health care or even basic health care. That is why we’re opening the Biddy Mason Community Wellness Center, to provide to this community a service that is so desperately needed.

      “We want them to know that they are still entitled to the dignity of great medical care, but we want them to experience these services as essential tools to maintain wellness and great mental health care.

      Our slogan is “let the healing begin,” she continued. “So, once you walk into the center, I want you to feel relaxed and to know that you’re in a safe space where you can get the help that you need. You may not be able to get everything right there, but our doctors—where necessary— can refer you to somebody who can fulfill those medical needs.”

      Charles Drew University is partnering with SLACDEC on the project with Providence Health & Services among the project sponsors.

      The center will also feature a community garden, the vegetables and fruit from which will be utilized in cooking classes the center is slated to provide. Wortham was particularly proud to announce that Thema Bryant would be heading up the mental health segment of the center’s programming.

      Said Wortham, “She’s hosting her first group on October 12 and they’re going to meet every second Tuesday, from 1pm to 2:30pm and everyone is invited to attend.”

      “Community empowerment is a central part of everything that we do here,” said Pastor J. Edgar Boyd. “So, whether it’s offering free exercise and cooking classes in housing developments, being an active partner in the fight against tobacco, or helping residents in need access public transportation…we’re here, our doors are open, and the work is being done.”

      The center will be open weekdays from 9am to 6pm. A website is in the works. In the meantime, those desiring additional information, can contact SLACDEC at (323) 419-3369.

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