Annual Young & Healthy Campaign Makes a Difference

There are certain circumstances in life when numbers speak louder than words, when explaining a dire situation through a quantitative lens can illuminate the plight. It is estimated that about 33% of all children in Pasadena are members of what the government designates as low-income families. This statistic represents a segment of the population, but it also signifies the tremendous challenge that many area parents face when it comes to providing their children with access to high-quality healthcare. For the third year in a row, Young & Healthy is attempting to reverse the stigma attached to that number with its 33 for 33 campaign, a fundraising effort focused on advancing the nonprofit’s mission of offering medical assistance to those who need it most.
“The idea is if a third of the children fall into this category of being underinsured or having no insurance, how can we help that?” said Young & Healthy Board President Darrell Done. “What we ask people is to pledge — if they feel comfortable — $33, which would then help to cover a payment toward these children’s medical needs.”
The Young & Healthy model is a simple one that has found success during the past 26 years. By connecting underserved kids in need of medical care with volunteering healthcare professionals, the organization has been able to foster a nurturing culture in the community. Hundreds of physicians trained in more than 30 different medical backgrounds currently work with Young & Healthy. They offer their services pro bono throughout the year, addressing the specific needs of low-income families who struggle to navigate health insurance for their children.
“One of the real gifts that Young & Healthy has is our gift of connection,” said Mary Donnelly-Crocker, the nonprofit’s executive director. “It’s just a very positive place to be because nobody’s doing this because they have to. … These doctors and all of our volunteers do this because they care about our community and they care about kids, and they don’t think kids should go without healthcare, either. When you get a lot of people doing a little part, you can make a big impact and I think that’s what Young & Healthy does.”
The 33 for 33 campaign strives to turn that sobering statistic — 33% — into a beacon of hope by pointing toward a goal of raising $33,000 each spring. Young & Healthy has reached that target every year since the inception of 33 for 33. According to the nonprofit, a single pledge of $33 can provide someone with antibiotics, while a second donation of that same amount is enough to outfit a child with a new pair of glasses. Contribute a monthly sum of $33 over the course of a year and the result is complete dental care for a child at one of the organization’s mobile dental clinics.
“Whatever that comfort level is with people, that’s how we’d like them to consider becoming involved,” Done said. “I think it’s also important to think about what your money means and what it goes toward. A little more than a dollar a day could make a huge difference in these children’s lives.”
The doctors who work with Young & Healthy seem to agree. For every dollar raised through the 33 for 33 campaign, they pledge an additional $1.68 as an in-kind donation to the organization.
“It’s incredibly rewarding and I think that the physicians, dentists and optometrists who are involved get a lot out of it. I certainly do,” said Dr. Giancarlo
DiMassa, a Young & Healthy board member who is also the associate director of the emergency department at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center. “It’s a really good feeling to be able to provide your services to grateful children and families, and to see the differences that you make.”
Recently, Young & Healthy has expanded its services beyond simply linking children with volunteer doctors. The nonprofit is now attempting to connect them with insurance following federal approval of the Affordable Care Act. Insurance for much of the organization’s clientele is very basic and often fails to cover medical procedures required for specific conditions, according to Done. Even the terminology associated with insurance can be overwhelming.
“More importantly, the care provider who might be assigned to that person might not be in the immediate area,” Done said. “So there’s an issue of transportation and getting to that person in order to use your insurance.”
That’s where the 33 for 33 campaign comes into play. With donations from the community — which the physicians match, and then some — in-depth insurance education and application assistance have become integral aspects of an already accommodating array of Young & Healthy amenities.
“We can do what we do because we have the support of the community,” said Donnelly-Crocker. “If we don’t have the support of the community, there are fewer kids we can serve. We really believe that if everybody just does a little bit, we can make a really big difference for kids.

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