A man, a clinic on wheels, and boundless love for the work
December 14, 2018
Children’s Health Fund’s medical providers are a special group, devoted to ensuring that children living in poverty have access to the highest quality health care. But they’re only part of the picture.If you want to know more about what makes our work so remarkable, you would do well to ask Larry Smith, driver of the mobile medical clinic at the Children’s Health Project of D.C. (CHPDC). “Mr. Larry,” as he is affectionately known, has spent the last nine years literally going the extra mile to bring healthcare to kids in need.
Being on the frontline means Mr. Larry knows first hand just how critical our work is, and just how large a role it plays in the communities we serve. The CHPDC mobile medical clinic is an important extension of THEARC, a center that provides access to high quality educational, health, cultural, recreation, and social service programs in the Anacostia neighborhood of D.C. Being centrally located is so important, Mr. Larry explains, because “it’s easy to get to and easy to find.”
Over his nearly decade of work with CHPDC, Mr. Larry has had the opportunity to watch children grow up healthy and start their own families. A wide smile spreads across his face as he recalls what happened just the other week. A mother holding a baby rushed up to him exclaiming, “Mr. Larry you know me! I used to come and now I bring my baby here.” Being able to provide continuous, high-quality care to children and families who need it most is why Mr. Larry loves to come to work each day.
But Mr. Larry and CHPDC also make sure healthcare is accessible to families who can’t reach THEARC. “We go into neighborhoods where it’s hard for people to get to THEARC. They don’t even have transportation at all. Sometimes the bus lines don’t go through where they are. Some of them are just destitute. So this makes a difference when you can go and service them. They appreciate it.”
His face is the first that children and their caregivers see when they board the mobile medical clinic for their appointments; his goodbye is the last thing they hear as they leave. “I like to keep people laughing and I love kids. I just love to go out in the neighborhood where they can’t get health care, provide services for them and help them.” As the mobile clinic has become a fixture in the community, so has Mr. Larry. When not driving, he is frequently recognized at community outings. “They recognize me and say who is that? It’s the driver for the mobile health clinic!” He smiles and adds “I just love my job.”