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Giving Thanks to the Storyteller

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Everyday I say a quiet "thank you" for the blessings I have been given. I am warm when it's cold, I sleep safely and soundly, I am never in want when I am hungry. I am thankful for each day, I am thankful for each hill I have to climb, I am thankful for the moment I reach my goal and I am thankful for the next challenge that comes my way.

The Stories Untold

Last year I volunteered at Remote Area Medical, a roaming medical relief group that provides free health services to those in need. I was part of the team that moved the people through the process to get free dental care. That day I moved over 800 people over 10 hours. By the end of it, I stood next to other volunteers cleaning the dental instruments for the next day.

I met people from across Los Angeles. One elderly couple, who took the bus to the Forum, sat holding hands while they waited patiently. A family with three children were there because they had no extra funds for dental care. The children, between the ages of 5 and 12, had never been to the dentist before. There was one gentleman with three teeth left. He needed one pulled--all he wanted was to be out of pain from the infected tooth. At lunch when we handed out free sandwiches, he ate his from one side of his mouth and pocketed the uneaten portion.

That night I went home and looked around me. I stood there and said "thank you."

The Storyteller

This past October, my Art Center student Christopher Ruiz went down to CareNow USA to document the largest free clinic CareNow, providing medical, dental, and vision care. Christopher grew up in East Los Angeles. Life here is what he knows, and he shares his view by documenting the stories that spring up around him everyday. Christopher uses his camera as the storyteller. The photographs here are by Christopher; they tell a story of the volunteers of CareNow and their courage, hope, trust and love.

And as we sit down with our families and friends this Thanksgiving, we all should give thanks for what we have been given and then ponder what we can give back.

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Artist, designer and teacher Ophelia Chong explores her adopted city of Los Angeles with an eye and ear for the small moments that tests the duality of being an Asian American. Join her on her journey every Thursday on KCET's SoCal blog

All Images: © Christopher Ruiz