The Carl Vogel Center is a non-profit community based organization that provides health care and resources to medically under-served communities. The clinic focuses on its clients’ holistic well-being, responding to mental, emotional and physical health issues that arise for individuals in the community, especially those living with HIV/AIDS. By acting as informational resources, medical care providers, patient advocates and liaisons with parts of the larger health systems, the Carl Vogel Center is able to empower the men and women who come to visit, allowing them to regain control over the condition of their minds, bodies and lives.
The Center is located on the 7th floor of an office building tucked onto a busy street in Downtown Washington, D.C. If I hadn’t double and triple checked the address on the flier advertising their National Women’s Health Week event, I never would have believed that there was a bustling clinic located inside the drab building. However, upon arriving at suite 700 I was met with a flurry of activity – parents and children waiting in armchairs, people checking in and speaking with employees, an office staff that passed briskly between rooms with armloads of paperwork and medical utensils – and a small sign with an arrow that pointed me towards a large room in the back of the office reading “National Women’s Day – This Way”.
In this back room, I expected to find booths of health information, perhaps a few clients who had lingered past their normal appointment time to see what was going on, possibly some hard candies; what I didn’t expect was to walk in on a lively group of women who were giving each other manicures, sharing lunch and exchanging candid advice and stories. With a creative interpretation of National Women’s Health Week’s theme, “Its Your Time,” these women were making time for themselves to relax, focus on themselves and their personal well-being, fitting in just a little bit of the pampering they deserve. They were surrounded by brochures and papers with information about everything from chronic disease management, safe sex, healthy eating plans, medical screenings and mental health strategies.