Jen Valero: Choices Women’s Medical Center (Feminist Camp NYC)


Our day at Merle Hoffman’s Choices facility stands out as one of the most impactful learning experiences. Merle is a strong, confident woman unlike any other I have ever met. Running a for-profit organization that fights for reproductive rights, the center provides women with much needed care.

Among the many things that struck me at this facility was its location. Located in Jamaica, Queens (not far from where I often spent my time as a child), the facility offers care to a population that desperately needs it. Known to be impoverished and dense with an immigrant population, Merle’s facility helps a demographic (one that I identify with) that is often overlooked.

When speaking with the Director of the facility Esther Priegue–a woman so phenomenally intelligent and empathetic–I was astounded by how much care they put into their patients. One of the many jobs that Esther takes on is analyzing the camera that faces the waiting room. She notes the girls’ body language to pick up on when they may be in danger, as these girls are victims of abuse more often than one would hope. As a survivor of abuse myself, I was touched by how dedicated they were to go beyond what is medically necessary.

I have never met such empathetic individuals before. I left there hoping that I good give back, and hopefully, return as a volunteer when I move back to New York.

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