More than 25 years
ago, in November 1977, Gordon Gray, a
pilot with the Foothill chapter of the
Flying Samaritans in Los Angeles got approval
from the International Board of Directors
to form an Orange County chapter. He and
another Foothill member flew to El Arco,
a remote mining village in Baja California
about 25 miles east of Guerrero Negro.
There had once been a clinic of the Foothill
chapter in El Arco, but because of the
intimidating presence of a military post,
and ever-present reception by armed soldiers,
Foothill gave it up. Gordon, a retired
U.S. Marine, felt right at home and made
his first move a call on the army commandant.
With that courtesy and the offer to take
care of all the military and their wives
and children, the clinic was a cinch.
Bill and Boz French, Foothill members
living in Orange County, became the first
members of the newly formed OC chapter.
about ten years the Samaritans made their
monthly trips, getting to know the people
of the village and making a big difference
in the lives of the villagers of El Arco.
But when the mines closed down and residents
started leaving, there was little left for
the Samaritans to do. So, in 1987 a new
clinic was started in a village about 20
miles north of Guerrero Negro on the trans-peninsular
highway at Jesus Maria.
metropolis of about 500 people, which includes
all those living within 20 miles, were very
happy to have the Samaritans come to their
village. Their local clinic's pasante was
also happy to have American doctors from
whom he might get additional training and
help. A pasante is a first-year Mexican
doctor fulfilling his one-year government
service obligation as a condition of graduation
from medical school. The small clinic area
the Samaritans shared with the pasante did
not include enough space for dental and
optometric services so a decision was made
to enlarge the clinic. Supplies were brought
in and the local men built an addition to
the clinic to be used by the Samaritans,
which included a small apartment for the
pasante. This arrangement proved to be very
satisfactory and continues to this day.
problems have arisen through the years,
they have always been dealt with and solved,
or accepted. The dirt strip that was originally
used as a runway was too close to the
houses, so another was constructed a short
distance away. The town's electric power
was intermittent at best, so the Samaritans
brought a new diesel generator down for
the clinic and solved that problem. Many
other similar problems were handled with
the help of members of a local Rotary
Club and the chapter's own volunteers.
Today this chapter is a thriving, vital,
growing organization, offering medical,
dental, chiropractic, and optometric care,
as well as family counseling. It is making
a big difference in the lives of a lot
of people, who without this service would
be left with very little in the way of
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