first_imgPACOIMA – For the last year, Rosa Lopez would wake up in the morning, open her eyes and see nothing but blurry images. But on Thursday, she saw the possibilities of improving her vision, thanks to a free examination and, maybe, new glasses. “This is so good they have something like this,” the Sylmar woman said as she waited for her turn inside the newly opened Meet Each Need with Dignity health center. “For many of us, our jobs don’t provide health insurance.” What began more than 30 years ago in a two-car garage as a way to help people in need has blossomed into an $8.5 million, 40,000-square-foot center at 10641 San Fernando Road in Pacoima. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.To help celebrate the facility’s opening, a free health fair was held Thursday to introduce the community to all the services available, from vision exams to dental care to blood-pressure screenings, all conducted by a dedicated staff of volunteer physicians, nurses and social workers. “I still get a lump in my throat each time I drive up to this place,” said Carolyn Rose, who co-founded MEND in 1971 with her husband, Ed. The Mission Hills couple opened their garage door every Saturday to those in need, offering food and clothing they had collected from their church. Since then, MEND has expanded to its current facility, which is four times larger than its former site on Van Nuys Boulevard. The older site houses educational services, including English-as-a-second-language classes. “It’s just unbelievable, beyond our expectations,” Ed Rose said. MEND is the San Fernando Valley’s largest poverty agency, serving clients in Pacoima, Arleta, Sylmar, Lake View Terrace, San Fernando, North Hills and Mission Hills. Last year, it provided $700,000 in medical, vision and dental care to more than 40,000 people. Those who qualify for its services have household incomes below the federal poverty guidelines, or less than $31,000 a year for a family of four. Part of what keeps MEND going is its ability to adapt to changing approaches to health care, Executive Director Marianne Haver Hill said. “A critical need is promoting holistic methods” like acupuncture, which the Latino community has become more open to using, Hill said. Nurse volunteer Delio Perez said he is hoping more Latinos come in for blood-pressure and diabetes screenings early – before it’s too late. “Those are the two ailments killing us,” he said. “When you have diabetes, then blood pressure, and you can’t control it, you are more likely also to suffer with depression, something else we are seeing a lot.” For Sylvia Aguilera, free dental care close to home means a world of difference. MEND’s dental service also has expanded, from a three-chair operation to an eight-chair center, through a collaboration with Loma Linda University. “I had to leave the house at 5 a.m. to go to Los Angeles to a free clinic to have my teeth checked,” she said. “For many of us, we have to choose between eating or medical care. This helps us so much.” susan.abram@dailynews.com (818) 713-3664160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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