StoryCorps partnered with Quincy Community Health Center, a health clinic that specializes in serving the underserved and migrant farm workers here in Wenatchee, Washington and the surrounding areas. Cristian Ramon and Lupe Cortes (best friends and recent high school graduates) both volunteer at Quincy and came into the MobileBooth to share their story.
Lupe Cores and Cristian Ramon
Lupe remembered reading Angels in Pink by Lurlene McDaniel, the story of high school friends who volunteer in the oncology unit of a hospital. Lupe convinced Cristian that they should do the same. They walked into their local hospital and caused some confusion at the front desk. The woman who greeted them thought they must be attempting to fill school-required community service hours. When Cristian and Lupe told her they had already completed their school’s required hours and were simply interested in volunteering, she seemed perplexed and said they would have to fill out an application and run a background check. Cristian and Lupe left dejected, but luckily, their high school counselor introduced them to Mary Jo Ybarra-Vega at Quincy Community Health Center.
Now, Cristian and Lupe are Community Health Promoters with Quincy, helping to educate farm workers about their health options, rights, and needs. Topics range from pesticide protection, alleviating headaches, safety ladders and more. This work hits home for Cristian and Lupe, whose parents immigrated to Washington from Mexico. Cristian and Lupe have both worked picking fruit with their parents. Lupe says she only lasted five minutes in the field and remembers that experience as motivation to keep studying. Not only have the girls been invaluable contributors at Quincy because of their experience and knowledge of farm life, but they have also been able to bring the health education they’ve acquired at Quincy home to share with their family.
Recently, Cristian and Lupe traveled to Seattle to accept a Heroes in Health award on behalf of all Health Promoters at Quincy Community Health Center. At a star-studded event, they admitted feeling like they didn’t belong. “Coming from my background, I felt like we should’ve been serving instead of the one in the pretty dress getting the award,” said Cristian. Thankfully, a friend reminded them that day after day, they did the same hard work as everyone else and were just as deserving of the award.
Having just graduated high school, Cristian and Lupe are determined to continue forward together, helping each other through college, grad school, medical school, and maybe even starting their own clinic one day. While other teenagers may be home worrying about clothes and dates, Lupe and Cristian are strengthening the health of their families and their community. They said they feel lucky to be here in the United States, where they can fulfill their dreams to help others.