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A True Volunteer Spirit

Filed Under: Health, Help, Immigrants, LGBT, Programs

A True Volunteer Spirit

 John Montes has a long history of volunteering in his community. It was his passion and commitment to community that brought John to IFR where he has provided free weekly acupuncture sessions for Sí a la Vida clients for the last three years.  “There’s an element of community … that brings me joy when I work with members of the community. When I leave IFR, I am not drained; I am happy and full of joy.” This is what motivates John.

Growing up in Puerto Rico, John attended the university in his home town of Mayaguez. After obtaining training as a manual therapist, he started his own practice and provided services for the people of Puerto Rico for seven years. No doubt John’s soothing voice, smiling eyes, and gentle manner contributed to his success as a healer. His work with low income people inspired him to do more, so in 2007, John made the long flight to California to learn the art of acupuncture.

While receiving training, John worked in various clinics providing free acupuncture. He was mesmerized by the way this practice allowed him to heal people through touch. “Recognizing boundaries is important, of course, but touch also helps people feel safe, and helps them heal faster. Once we have that connection, it’s like you’re my family.” Via a friend who had a friend who worked at IFR, John brought his commitment to community healing to Sí a la Vida.

“Being able to serve in español was big for me. There aren’t many people in San Francisco who provide services in Spanish.”  Plus, as John explains, the art of acupuncture is…well…different with Latinos. “Acupuncture is often a quiet activity, but with Latinos, it’s often more lively. We move our hands a lot when we talk; it’s more lively, and we share stories.” This interaction with clients in a Latino space made him feel like he was a part of something bigger.

“It’s important that people know I’m listening to the realities they’re facing. Whether it’s hepatitis, drug addiction, sex work, or homelessness, I help see them through that. They get something palpable – relaxation – for a time. I let them know they can feel safe here, to take a nap or just rest.”

After serving as a volunteer acupuncturist at IFR for these past three years, John will take the next step in his life and move with his family to Minneapolis to further his education in healing arts to become a chiropractor and spend more time with his 5-year old daughter. Eventually, John plans to return to Puerto Rico and continue providing services to his community.

John is hopeful someone will emerge to replace him to offer free acupuncture services to Sí a la Vida clients. “[Volunteering] has made my practice and my life a lot better. Your heart grows, and you become wiser…It makes you more compassionate, and you gain perspective. For me, it has been an honor.”

IFR would like to extend our sincere thanks to John Montes for being a part of our familia for the last three years, and for sharing your healing gifts with our community. We wish John the very best as he continues his path to serve the community.

Muchísimas gracias, John.

One Response

  1. Clery February 26, 2018 at 1:28 pm #

    Muchísimas gracias John por tu dedicación y corazón!

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