Amy is a 69-year-old woman with a soft voice. She was borne in the Caribbean and lived in New York before coming to Los Angeles where she has lived for the past 15 years.  After working many years in the health field, she is now retired and lives in her own apartment.

Amy is a volunteer with the health information programs offered at the Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) in the heart of Los Angeles. The DWC offers housing to homeless women – including many who have moved away from situations of domestic violence – as well as a variety of drop-in services. The health programs start with the kitchen, which offers balanced healthy meals every day. The Center also offers a smoking cessation program, and a “living well” program, empowering people living with chronic diseases to better understand their conditions and take more control of their own health and well-being.

As a participant leader, Amy offers one-on-one visits with women who come to the Center, many of them homeless. She listens to their stories, and offers support and information on nutrition, quitting smoking and domestic violence.  Amy said it is often very hard for women to speak with a male doctor about domestic violence, and she feels her volunteering is essential in this area. “I have built a relationship and trust with these women.” 

Amy first came to the DWC in need of services herself, due to a death in her family and financial constraints that left her without any health coverage. Her daughter was diagnosed with very advanced stage breast cancer and despite treatment, died soon after at the age of 46. Amy stated that the staff of DWC supported her through that very painful period in her life.

In tribute to her daughter’s legacy, Amy works hard on teaching women who visit the DWC about early detection, about the importance of mammograms and self-assessment, to let them know that early detection saves lives.

Amy is the model of a consumer activist who draws on her own life experience with health care to help others take control of their own health.

Consumer Stories

The needs and experiences of health care consumers — particularly people in marginalized or low-income communities or with complex needs and significant disabilities — are the driving force of the Center’s work. Documenting and amplifying patients’ real-life health care situations, in their own words, is central to our ability to create a health care system that works for all of us. Click below for stories from some of the consumers we work with.