But the most remarkable aspect of life in the big blue van is the spirit of the place, embodied in the energetic, larger-than-life presence of 36-year-old Medical Director Gloria WilderBrathwaite, M.D. Dr. Gloria, as she's called by everyone, dispenses respect and love along with first-rate health care. And judging from the abundance of hugs exchanged with patients, the affection is mutual. "Love is universal," she says. "It transcends everything if you let it come into your life."
That doesn't mean things are easy in the van. "We see enormous tragedy," Dr. Gloria says. "We have kids who have never been vaccinated, and have diseases you're not supposed to see anymore. There are children whose fathers are on death row, children without shoes or jackets in winter, children of the working poor, and children whose mothers smoke crack. But even the most distressing situation can offer a glimmer of hope, an opportunity for self-respect."
What You Can Do
- Dr. Gloria received the $100,000 Use Your Life Award!
- To find National Children's Health Project Network locations throughout the country, contact:
Children's Health Fund
317 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10021
- If you have time to give, volunteer to help at a local children's hospital! To find the facility nearest you, contact the National Association of Children's Hospitals at www.childrenshospitals.net.