My Sixteenth Street Story | A Heart that Keeps Giving


 I want my daughters to have a giving heart. Even when you’re struggling, there is someone else who is struggling more than you. God is looking at you, and he sees all that. You will get your blessing either way but always do it out of heart- not because you expect something in return.

Every day we make choices. Living with Type 1 Diabetes has proven to make some days more challenging than others. Every day is a struggle. Every day there is a decision I have to make, but my daughters give me the strength to live each day to the fullest. I moved to Milwaukee from Puerto Rico in 1989 when I was five years old. Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers has been like a second home. I have been a patient for more than 20 years and have seen the clinic grow from one location to many.

Throughout my first pregnancy, I struggled to control my diabetes. My high blood pressure played a large part in me getting admitted into the hospital time after time. I will never forget that first pregnancy. I couldn’t leave the hospital with my baby; she was in the hospital for the first three months. I would go and visit every day taking the city bus up to the hospital 2-3 times a day. But it was all worth it. My high blood pressure affected all four of my pregnancies, causing all four of my daughters to be born prematurely. Now they are big. They are healthy. They keep me busy-they give me purpose.

Sixteenth Street is an important place for us. It is a place where our doctors take the time to get to know us personally. I have been bringing my daughters to the clinic since they were born. I have an immense appreciation for Dr. Dunn and the care and attention he provides my daughters at every appointment. I feel the same about the care I personally receive. One time, I felt depressed and Dr. Eppinger gave me a prescription paper. What he wrote on it was touching. It read, “Read the book of John. It will be good for your soul.” Having doctors and staff that care makes a difference.

Throughout the years, I have explored the different care and programs Sixteenth Street has to offer. The diabetes program has helped me with my lifelong journey with type 1 diabetes, -teaching me ways to control it. As my eldest daughter starts to become a teenager, I have taken a couple of parenting classes from the Parenting Resource Center (PRC) that focuses on how to be an active parent in the life of an adolescent. The PRC also provides us with opportunities like the Betty Brinn membership Program. One of our favorite things to do is to go to the museum on Sundays. We can spend all day there. We pack up sandwiches, fruit, chips, and snacks and have lunch together as a family.

There are some days when my diabetes gets the best of me. Days where I am not able to drive myself because the sunlight affects my eyes. Days where I am not able to do housework because my hands become swollen and affected by arthritis. I also get emotional diabetes that causes my blood pressure to rise if I go through a strong emotion. But through everything, my daughters are always there making sure I am okay-giving me strength. I can hear them whisper to each other, “mommy needs five minutes to feel better,…” or they will come into the room with a cup of water and say, “mommy did you take your medicine?”

I want my daughters to have a giving heart. Even when you’re struggling, there is someone else who is struggling more than you. God is looking at you, and he sees all that. You will get your blessing either way but always do it from your heart – not because you expect something in return. As a community, we have to help each other embody this type of lifestyle and continue to pass it on. Sixteenth Street Centers given so much to my daughters and me, from healthcare to opportunities that help us grow and develop as a family. I choose to pass that on to my daughters.

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