Our Free Clinic Program in Campbell, California, Progresses

Northwest  |  March 30, 2024
The Silicon Valley Medical and Community Volunteer Team held a community free clinic at Rosemary Elementary School to provide medical and health care services to local Hispanic families.
Tzu Chi USA Northwest Region’s medical and community volunteers provide a free clinic at Rosemary Elementary School in March 2024, offering healthcare services to underprivileged families in the local area. Photo/Andy Chiang

Written by Joy Chen
Translated by Ariel Chan
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska

Tzu Chi USA Northwest Region’s volunteers in California’s Silicon Valley have long cared for the students and families of Rosemary Elementary School in Campbell. They started with educational and humanistic courses and then expanded their care footprint with free clinic services. On March 10, 2024, the medical and community volunteer team held a free clinic at Rosemary Elementary to provide healthcare services to disadvantaged residents in the local area, primarily Hispanic families. 

Providing Diverse Services

Tzu Chi USA’s humanistic education team in Silicon Valley has served at Rosemary Elementary School for many years, assisting through classroom volunteering, math tutoring, and promoting environmental concepts and actions among students and their families. After many years of care, the volunteers discovered that the local Hispanic community is composed chiefly of undocumented immigrants and disadvantaged families. Many lack medical resources and can’t afford insurance or additional medical expenses. Seeing a doctor is problematic due to language barriers and financial costs. Therefore, Tzu Chi and Rosemary Elementary jointly researched action plans to address this community needs gap and launched biannual free clinic activities to help underprivileged families through medical care.

The March free clinic provides a range of services, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, dental, and spinal health care. Photo/Andy Chiang

The free clinic in March offered several services, including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dentistry, and spinal health care. The medical team added two professional dental hygienists to the team for this event since many people need teeth cleaning services, and this would reduce the long waiting time. TCM was equally popular. In recent years, TCM acupuncture has become an increasingly common treatment method in the United States. In addition to lowering medication use, it allows people to relax and rest while the needles are applied. The diverse free clinic program, which, among other benefits, helped reduce pain, was of great help to local Hispanic families, as many of their members engage in physically demanding blue-collar work. 

Protecting Community Health

Tzu Chi held its first free community clinic at Rosemary Elementary School in October 2023. Maria Soto was one of the care recipients. Based on her positive experience in 2023, Soto also attended the March 2024 free clinic. When she saw Tzu Chi volunteers in their signature blue and white uniforms, she immediately recognized many by their caring and kind faces and greeted them warmly. 

The free clinic provides a wide range of services, including Chinese medicine, dentistry, dental cleaning and spinal health services.
Maria Soto receives dental cleaning services at the March free clinic. Photo/Andy Chiang

Soto also brought her husband, Rodrigo Csorio, to this clinic. The two made an appointment to see a TCM doctor. Afterward, Soto registered for teeth cleaning. However, the volunteers also arranged for her to get other healthcare services she needed from the clinic this time.

Tzu Chi volunteers serve as nannies so parents can receive medical treatment with peace of mind. Photo/Andy Chiang
The volunteers share the story of Tzu Chi’s bamboo banks with those waiting, encouraging charitable giving to help others in need. Photo/Andy Chiang

The couple also brought their four children with them. Their eldest daughter is in fourth grade, and the youngest is only one and a half years old. While their parents were receiving medical treatment, the elder sister took charge of her younger siblings. Tzu Chi volunteers also served as nannies to help so the children’s parents could see the doctor with peace of mind. The whole family is cared for at these community clinics; seeing this in action creates a moving picture.

Medical volunteers offer dental care instruction so the children waiting for their parents to see a doctor can learn how to brush and floss their teeth properly. Photo/Andy Chiang

Medical volunteers offer dental care instruction so the children waiting for their parents to see a doctor can learn how to brush and floss their teeth properly. Photo/Andy Chiang

The free clinic primarily targets this school district’s students and their families, so participating adults will attend with their children. While the youngsters wait for their parents to see a doctor, Tzu Chi volunteers offer dental care instruction through courses for schoolchildren they prepared beforehand. Thus, while waiting, the kids can make good use of their time as they learn how to brush and floss their teeth properly and protect their dental health.

Benefiting Many Families

Among underprivileged families and undocumented immigrants, some people have never seen a dentist before because they can’t afford insurance, and the cost of dental care in the United States is very high. Therefore, as soon as news of free dental clinics comes out, community residents take advantage of the opportunity to seek treatment.

Volunteers help people get basic health and blood pressure checks before seeing a doctor.
Volunteers conduct basic health and blood pressure checks before clinic attendees see a dentist. Here, a volunteer attends to Carlos Alonso as his wife stands watch. Photo/Andy Chiang
Medical volunteers conduct X-ray examinations before people have their teeth extracted.
A medical volunteer takes Dental X-rays during the free clinic. Photo/Andy Chiang

Carlos Alonso’s wife had been suffering from a toothache for a long time. After the dentist’s examination, she learned that a filling alone could not cure it, and the only solution was to extract the tooth. The extraction process went smoothly, and its results were satisfactory. Alonso also registered to check his dental health afterward. “When I saw my wife had a tooth extracted, I quickly came to check my teeth,” he said. “Fortunately, the doctor said my teeth are still healthy, and I only need fillings,” he reported.

The dentist carefully helped Carlos check his teeth.
A dentist carefully examines Carlos Alonso’s teeth. Photo/Andy Chiang

The doctors’ attentive care, Tzu Chi volunteers, and all the professional examinations at the free clinic made our family feel very reassured and at ease.

Exploring New Partnerships

The Home Church of Campbell serves the community through various charity care initiatives. In addition to regular food distribution, it also has long-term programs to assist youth. Darsie Marie, a nurse, made a special trip to Tzu Chi’s free clinic to observe its activities on behalf of the Home Church. Marie first learned about Tzu Chi’s free clinic activities in 2017 and was impressed by its medical care, as the team and volunteers were most efficient, attentive, and helpful to people in need. Therefore, the Church wanted to promote collaboration between the two parties. Marie came to the March 2024 free clinic to see how Tzu Chi conducts regular free clinics in this community every six months.

Darcy (third from left) takes a photo with Tzu Chi volunteers and hopes that everyone will have the opportunity to cooperate in the future.
Darcie Marie (third left) from Home Church takes a photo with Tzu Chi volunteers and hopes that the two organizations will have the opportunity to collaborate in the future. Photo/Andy Chiang

We very much welcome and hope the Tzu Chi medical team can come to Home Church to hold free clinic services with us so that more people in need can benefit.

Tzu Chi USA Northwest Region volunteer team has been a welcome presence at Rosemary Elementary School in Campbell, beginning with its provision of educational services, extending to free clinics, and now exploring collaboration with local social welfare groups to expand the breadth of community care in the future. In the spring of March 2024, the team brought cherished medical care to the community’s underprivileged families, thus guarding health, boosting hope for the future, and promoting a healthy lifestyle for all.

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