Jewel Thais-Williams is an icon in the LGBT community. As owner of the oldest Black gay disco in the world – Jewel’s Catch One -she provides not only fun and entertainment but a center of activity (including a Christmas Toy Giveaway) and refuge for those unable to live an authentic life elsewhere. During the height of the AIDS crisis, she helped found the Minority AIDS Project and sat on the board of AIDS Project Los Angeles (see Jewel and Rue with Hillary Clinton in 1991). Last June, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Councilmembers Bill Rosendahl and Paul Koretz and the city of LA honored Jewel at the kick-off of LGBT Heritage Month and LA Pride. (See video here.)
But her own healthcare experiences and observations of how minorities are often treated by a pill-and-cut medical establishment prompted Jewel to go back to UCLA – and go to China – to learn alternative prevention and treatment practices to help the larger community, especially low-income people. Ten years ago she opened the non-profit Village Health Foundation to provide healthcare and health education at a sliding-scale alternative clinic. Jewel says:
Our goal at the Village is to give you, our clients, the practical lifestyle tools for taking charge of your own health. As one’s health improves, so too does the quality of one’s life. Come to one of our events and let your voice be heard. Be part of our growing community where diversity is always valued, where there is an antidote for physical and emotional pain, and where the possibility of a long healthy life is available to everyone.
We are staffed by licensed acupuncturists and health educators knowledgeable in the benefits of nutrition, Traditional Chinese Medicine, herbal therapies, and other beneficial natural treatments. Our acupuncturists are primary healthcare practitioners licensed by the State of California. We are trained, certified, and licensed to provide primary healthcare for children and adults of all ages.
But the truth is that Jewel has been funding the Village Health Foundation primarily out of her own pocket – and she needs help. Until Friday, Jan 4 Jewel has an online fundraising effort for the Village Health Foundation at http://VHFSeasonOfGiving.eventbrite.com/. If you prefer snail mail, you can send your tax-deductible checks to: Village Health Foundation, 4073 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, 90019. Thank you in advance for giving back to someone who’s so devoted to giving to others.