sister veronica

Sister Veronica croppedBy Paul Midney Here at HCN, we are often amazed at how people working part time for minimum wage are able to support not only themselves, but distant relatives in other countries, and their own children who are studying in colleges around the United States.  How do they do it?

At the same time, for many, the hours worked are too few to pay for shelter and food, let alone medical visits and medicines. There are many people in Immokalee who suffer needless strokes, heart attacks, and other complications, because they have not been able to afford to continuously take vital medicines. Other people lack basic dental and eye care, or suffer through other treatable illnesses.

That's where the Sister Veronica Fund comes in - 100% of the gifts to this fund are used for medicine or direct patient care. None are used for salaries or paying clinic staff.

But who was this Sister Veronica for whom the fund is named?

Sister Veronica Cohen was a Catholic nun who worked with HCN for many years, until her death in 1989. She was actually employed by the East Coast Migrant Association, an organization which sent health workers “up the road” with the migrant farm workers.

Sister would work as a social worker six months in Immokalee and then six months in another migrant community in another part of the country. Sometimes they would send her to Virginia, other times to Maryland, and other times to a completely different state - wherever they needed her most. So she was following our same migrant families on their travels to the different work camps.

As you can imagine, all that moving was hard. Sister's job was to help people with language, culture and money barriers as well as secure medical care in places where migrant families knew little about local resources. She realized that even though needy people could almost always get seen by a doctor at migrant health clinics such as ours, often they couldn’t get what the doctors had ordered. Prescribed medicines were a big problem, as were emergency eye care and emergency dental care.

So Sister Veronica took things into her own hands and started asking for money from her family, churches and other people she knew.  She used the money to start a “Medical Relief Fund.”

After Sister left us, we kept the fund going in her name. From our experience at HCN, or as members of farm worker families ourselves, we know there are many people who really, really need treatment for their sicknesses, but especially when work is slow and they have no way of paying for it. Because of the Sister Veronica Fund, these people get the medical care they deserve.

Click Here for more information on how to donate to the Sister Veronica Fund.