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Milagros Everywhere


Touch it. Experience it. Own it.

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“MY HAIR’S ALL WRONG... and my wardrobe needs… well, a boost. These are the sort of things I hear at work all the time.”

ALINA CEBALLOS, a supervisor at ONEWORLD COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS, takes such comments in stride. Words that would be awkward in most workplaces are easier to swallow when they come from your own mother.

ONEWORLD, the community-based effort whose mission revolves around overcoming “access, quality and cost challenges in a healthcare marketplace that too often leaves the most vulnerable behind,” has played an integral role in the lives of both Alina and her mother, Maria Ceballos.

Maria was a new member of the community 33 years ago and, as a pregnant teen, had few prospects when it came to providing healthcare for her family. The affordable services and caring, culturally sensitive staff of what was then called the INDIAN CHICANO HEALTH CENTER meant to Maria that she could receive quality care in preparing for the birth of Alina’s younger sister and beyond.

Alina, at 16, was faced with a similar challenge. Now about to become a teen mom herself, the thought of staying in school, let alone later continuing her education, seemed but a distant dream.

“Thanks to the nurses, providers and other staff here,” Alina explained, “I was able to be strong and make good decisions. They pushed me to follow my dreams. They pushed me to be somebody; a good mom, a provider for my kids, a healthcare provider who now has a chance to give back to the community.”

THE NONPROFIT HOUSED IN the historic LIVESTOCK EXCHANGE BUILDING provides a broad range of both clinical and support services in medical, dental, optical and behavioral arenas to compliment its robust education, prevention and outreach programs.

The federally-qualified community health center experiences double-digit annual growth in numbers of people served, even as its percentage of uninsured patients continues to soar. Now ground is soon to be broken on a pair of expansion facilities at the site that has for generations been synonymous with successive waves of immigration where a goulash of Czech, Polish and other Eastern Europeans has since yielded to newcomers from Spanish-speaking, Asian and African nations. Maria, part of a group of rotating lunch providers, brings her from-scratch Mexican cooking to the OneWorld cafeteria every Tuesday.

MORE THAN JUST a semiinvisible “lunch lady,” Maria is the ever-smiling character who is included in office parties and holiday celebrations. It’s a good bet that the OneWorld employee handbook has a clause specifying that she is to be invited to any event where more than three staffers gather.

The homey, everybody-knows-everybody atmosphere of OneWorld coupled with Alina’s equally outgoing personality meant that we were faced with several smile-inducing interruptions as her co-workers drifted in and out of the cafeteria that day.

But the same scene is mirrored throughout the corridors of the clinic where staff and community come together in a spirit that embodies a friendly, neighbor-to-neighbor vibe.

“That’s just who we are here,” Alina added, “This place means family. It’s home for so many of us just like it’s home for so many of our neighbors here in South Omaha.”

UP NEXT for OneWorld is its November 10th Milagro dinner in the stately 10th floor ballroom of the Livestock Exchange Building. The fundraiser that borrows the Spanish word for “miracle” this year honors the contributions of Bergan Mercy Medical Center, Building Bright Futures, Robert Fizgibbons, M.D., Midwest GYN Oncology and the University of Nebraska Medical Center- Department of Family Medicine. Dr. Joann Schaefer will be the keynote speaker.

Mother-daughter combos who happen to work together are not uncommon, but Alina and Maria Ceballos’ story and their commitment to the non-profit’s “big tent” mission is something greater. It is a mircocosm that reflects a larger OneWorld legacy.

“Alina is my milagro,” Maria beamed, “and OneWorld is a place where so many milagros happen.”

Visit www.oneworldomaha.org for more on the Milagro dinner and OneWorld programs.

-end- metroMAGAZINE




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