Elena Rodriguez

Elena Rodriguez is the very definition of resourceful. Fleeing an abusive relationship in her native Peru, 23 years ago, she met the woman who is now her roommate and friend on a transit bus in Baltimore. "I was scared and lonely and I noticed this woman reading a Spanish newspaper. I simply went up to her and introduced myself. At first, she was a bit nervous about being approached by a stranger but I kept talking to her. We became friends and I even went to work in her family's housekeeping business," she says with a smile.

"Right away, I knew I would have to practice my English and learn how to drive a car, if I ever wanted to be truly independent," she says. It was not easy, but Elena is not one to give up, ever. Today, her English is fluent and she even laughs at silly, American puns. A friendly, outgoing woman, she also knew she needed a network of friends for her emotional health. "I joined the Esperanza Center in Fells Point and that's where I first learned about St. Clare Medical Outreach (SCMO)."

Started in 1998 by UM St. Joseph Medical Center, the program provides preventive and acute health care for a Hispanic community without means to access health insurance. The program remains true to the mission of our founding Sisters of Saint Francis who came to Baltimore in 1864 to care for an indigent population. They were committed to respecting the inherent dignity of every human, made in the image of God. Their moral imperative, to provide healing through loving service and compassionate care to all, regardless of ability to pay, is the cornerstone of St. Clare Medical Outreach.

Elena feels truly blessed to be in America. "Here, I feel safe, I can speak freely and I have gained so much confidence." She reaches out to help others, particularly newly immigrated Latinas through Goucher College and she participates in programs at the House of Ruth, a shelter for women in abusive relationships. "I am so lucky that SCMO has taken care of my health needs for so many years. This lets me give back in other ways."

St. Clare Medical Outreach has the good fortune to be partnered with foundations and corporate entities in the community who share our vision to help the Hispanic community. Most notably, the Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation, Hoffberger Family Philanthropies, BGE's Charitable Contributions Committee and the Marion I. and Henry J. Knott Scholarship Fund have made significant and ongoing gifts to support SCMO. Their generosity means that SCMO can continue to provide healing through loving care to all, regardless of circumstance.

When asked what her experience of emigrating to the United States means, Elena answers simply, in four words, "I am happy now."

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