Southwest Airlines employees, customers and neighbors make the Southwest Family the LUVing place that it is. Thousands of times each year, Southwest Airlines and its Employees reach out to individuals, families and entire communities providing help where it is needed. Most donations are invisible–except to the people they affect.
This month I am particularly proud to showcase Ana Melgoza and her leadership and impact at San Ysidro Health which provides high quality, affordable, and compassionate medical, dental, and behavioral health services for the community.
I invite you to participate in their mission – a mission of providing extraordinary care to those that it the most!
As Vice President for External Affairs for San Ysidro Health, Ana Melgoza is a major part of the organization that helps 105,000 patients (of which 40% are children and 20% are seniors) thrive and reach their fullest potential. Her daily inspiration? Her mother who has always been a fearless advocate and leader.
Her mother’s experience of navigating an often intimidating and confusing health system, as a newly arrived immigrant 45 years ago and now as a senior, has been a guiding force for Ana over the last 14 years. Growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, she recalls vivid memories of the endless visits her mother made to the small, compassionate community clinic in the historical Latino barrio for her and her six siblings. Not knowing how to drive, her mother always found a way to take them to the clinic for immunizations, dental check-ups, or when they fell ill with bronchitis, the stomach flu, or more, even if it meant walking three miles in the stifling heat, rain or snow.
Through her resilience and perseverance, Ana’s mother always found a solution to challenges such as language barriers and transportation. Despite all the hard work she did and stress she suffered in the process, her love for her children and deep spiritual faith empowered her and provided strength for all of them. To this day, Ana takes her mother’s struggles to heart as she sits at the executive table of the wonderful organization she works with, helping them think of better ways to serve their patients, primarily mothers, who take charge of the family’s well-being. For instance, they are in the process of offering more pediatric specialty care in their clinics so parents can access care in their community and not have to figure out transportation to distant hospitals.
These patients and their situations remind Ana of her mother who is the primary caregiver for her father who suffered a catastrophic illness that left him disabled 20 years ago. Now, he must rely on her to dress him daily. For Ana, her mother symbolizes the typical senior Latina patient they serve who put the needs of others first and end up neglecting their own health in the process. Knowing this, they opened their Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) to take care of people like her father and provide caregivers like her mother a break so they have a chance to take care of themselves. While it might not always be easy, Ana’s mother reminds herself that the 1.5 hours of exercise she does daily is actually the best gift she can give her husband and daughter. It’s great for her physical health and it allows her and her husband the opportunity to catch up and have many heart-to-heart conversations. Because of this, she even looks forward to their 5 a.m. morning routine, seven days a week.
Ana feels blessed to honor the legacy of her own mother and the seven founding mothers of San Ysidro Health who worked hard to establish high quality, affordable, and compassionate medical, dental, and behavioral health services for the community. Their example is the source of her drive for helping families reach their full potential and creating the next generation of community leaders.
But Ana’s work would not be possible without the support of donors such as Southwest Airlines whose past and current sponsorship of San Ysidro Health’s 50th Anniversary Gran Fiesta Gala has been transformative. Reflecting on her relationship with Southwest Airlines Ana says, “I love to compare the “cariño” brand we have for our patient as the “LUV” Southwest has for its passengers. They also fly to the main destinations I need for my work and family life: Sacramento, Washington D.C., Kansas City and Cancun. I’ve even maximized travel by choosing a layover in Kansas City on my way to the east coast where my parents, nieces, nephews, siblings, aunts and uncles greet me with food and smiles for a couple of hours- I LUV it!”