I have been coming to Sixteenth Street Clinic for the past 40 years. I used to work across the street when the Family Dollar Store use to be El Mercado El Rey, and Sixteenth Street used to be just one building. One of the things that I like about Sixteenth Street is how they can serve me in my native language. I have always been a part of the south side community in many ways. Not only do I serve on the Patient and Family Advisory Council that gives me the opportunity to share my experiences with Sixteenth Street as a patient, community member and as a Latino man, but I also run the Beto Avila Baseball League in the south side of Milwaukee since 1983 at Baran Park.
Sixteenth Street has always been there for my health. I was first diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis when I was 21 years old. It is a type of arthritis that affects my spine and causes stiffness from the neck down to my lower back. Sixteenth Street was the first place that helped me received treatment for my back. I was able to obtain weekly physically therapy thanks to them. A couple of years ago, I was also diagnosed with active Tuberculosis which developed in my lungs, and the clinic was the only place that provided me with resources that no one else would. At the time, I had just left El Rey and had no insurance. Thanks to the clinic, they helped me apply and was able to receive the medication that I needed. The clinic made sure that I took care of myself and that I was taking my medication every day for nine months to be cured.
I am thankful for Sixteenth Street because I am to live a stable, healthy life that allows me to play with and watch my grandchildren grow. During the baseball season, I can be active at the park all day and enjoy the weather and games. It is more than just a league; it is about teamwork, friendship, and community. The league consists of 150+ men from across the south side that come together. Most of the men work blue collared jobs and getting together for a game of ball is not only a way to stay active but also a way to decompress and enjoy themselves from their long work weeks. Being part of both the Patient and Family Advisory Council and the Beto Avila Baseball League have allowed me to see bigger picture problems. Thanks to Sixteenth Street I am able to voice my opinion on topics that deal with environmental health, such as helping build up safety and taking care of our south side parks. Both my children grew up playing in the parks, and I want my grandchildren to be able to grow up with the same opportunity.