Pulse - February 2021 - 6

SCVMA PROFILE

JIM BELL

Melissa Garcia Started Charity to Help
Needy Seniors Feed Their Animals

A

few years ago, Melissa Garcia, practice manager
at Bloomfield Animal Hospital in Lakewood,
learned that many low-income seniors who were
delivered two meals a day by Meals on Wheels were eating one of those meals and giving the other to their pets.
" Once I heard this, it was heartbreaking, " she said. Her reaction
was to start a charity to provide pet food to these seniors.
Melissa is one of two recipients for the SCVMA Para-Professional Award for 2021. She was " very shocked " when she learned
that she was a recipient. " I am honored that my colleagues think
so highly of me that they would nominate me. "
Melissa is never comfortable in the spotlight, said Andrea Crabtree, owner of FurPaws Consulting in Orange, who nominated her
for the award.
" She's very humble and she's the sweetest person ever. she has a
heart of gold - not only for pets but for people. Her heart bleeds
for those in need. Her comfort zone is to do things for others,
even though that can make her uncomfortable. But she does those
things because she knows they need to be done. "
Her charity, the Grandpaws Foundation, started slowly. It
became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit two years ago that serves Lakewood
and Long Beach and is expanding. Besides providing pet food to
low-income seniors, it also will help them with veterinary bills.
" In the Latino community, " she said, " we always take care of our
elders. For me, what these seniors were having to do was not OK. "
The pandemic has increased demand for Melissa's services. " It
was overwhelming and humbling to see how many more seniors
we needed to help, " she said. " Demand has basically doubled since
Covid hit. We were giving seniors 150 to 200 pounds of pet food
every week before. Now the need is close to 400 or 500 pounds. "
Petfood from Grandpaws enables low-income seniors to eat
both Meals on Wheels offerings (one cold and one hot) and not
feel the need to feed one of those meals to their pets. " No senior
should go hungry and no senior should have to choose between
their well-being and their pets' well-being, " Melissa said.
Seniors who sign up with Meals on Wheels fill out a questionnaire that asks whether they have a pet and whether it is a dog or
a cat. They also are asked if they need petfood. If they indicate a
need for petfood, Grandpaws provides it and it is delivered weekly
by Meals on Wheels.
Grandpaws is surviving because of the generosity of the veterinary industry, Melissa said. " Hospitals call me and they say: 'Hey,
Melissa, we have these bags of food we don't need any more so
come pick them up.' The veterinary community has been a godsend. Once the pandemic hit, I really worried about how we
were going to maintain the amount of food we were giving -
and on top of that we were needing more. But so far, we have
been very blessed. "
Hospitals frequently call her and tell her that they have extra
petfood that she can pick up or that they had a petfood drive and

6

there is an excess that she can have. There are also private donors
who contribute.
Melissa has worked at Bloomfield since 2007. She grew up in
Lakewood and now lives in her own home not far from her parents' house.
" I'm a first generation American, " she said. " My family is just
my parents, my younger sister and me. My mom is from Guatemala and my dad is from Columbia. My mom immigrated here
when she was 17 and my dad came here when he was 21.
" I was born in New York but my parents came to Southern California when my dad, an engineer, was offered a job at
McDonnell Douglas. " Her mother, she said, worked as an accountant in New York.
Melissa earned a B.S. degree in zoology at Long Beach State, then
moved to Colorado, where she earned a veterinary tech certificate
at Bel-Rea Institute of Animal Technology in Aurora. " After six
years in Colorado and my fifth or sixth blizzard, I said to myself, 'I'm
done with this,' and I moved back to Southern California. "
She has been a practice manager 10 years. She said that Dr. Jose
Arambulo, who owns Bloomfield Hospital, is the reason she still
works there. " He's a good boss, a good leader, a good teacher. The
staff has great respect for him and what he does for our practice. "
She credits, Dr. A., as she calls him, with playing an import role
in the beginnings of Grandpaws and in its support. She said that
any senior in Southern California can apply for petfood help with
the charity and " we can drop it off to them. " P

FEBRUARY 2021

PULSE



Pulse - February 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pulse - February 2021

Pulse - February 2021
Chapter Meetings & Calendar
President’s Perspective
SCVMA Profile
SCVMA Profile
Pulsepoints
Practical Pathology
Cover Feature Story
21 to watch in 2021
Medical Leeway
UC Davis Update
Tools for Success
Angel Fund
Dear Tabby
The RVT
Industry Insights
Quick Reference
Digital Photography for Veterinarians
AVMA Diplomates
Resources
Disease Table
From the SCVMA Office
Pulse - February 2021 - Pulse - February 2021
Pulse - February 2021 - Cover2
Pulse - February 2021 - 1
Pulse - February 2021 - 2
Pulse - February 2021 - Chapter Meetings & Calendar
Pulse - February 2021 - President’s Perspective
Pulse - February 2021 - SCVMA Profile
Pulse - February 2021 - SCVMA Profile
Pulse - February 2021 - Pulsepoints
Pulse - February 2021 - 8
Pulse - February 2021 - 9
Pulse - February 2021 - 10
Pulse - February 2021 - Practical Pathology
Pulse - February 2021 - Cover Feature Story
Pulse - February 2021 - 13
Pulse - February 2021 - 21 to watch in 2021
Pulse - February 2021 - 15
Pulse - February 2021 - Medical Leeway
Pulse - February 2021 - UC Davis Update
Pulse - February 2021 - Tools for Success
Pulse - February 2021 - Angel Fund
Pulse - February 2021 - 20
Pulse - February 2021 - Dear Tabby
Pulse - February 2021 - The RVT
Pulse - February 2021 - Industry Insights
Pulse - February 2021 - Quick Reference
Pulse - February 2021 - Digital Photography for Veterinarians
Pulse - February 2021 - 26
Pulse - February 2021 - 27
Pulse - February 2021 - 28
Pulse - February 2021 - AVMA Diplomates
Pulse - February 2021 - Resources
Pulse - February 2021 - Disease Table
Pulse - February 2021 - 32
Pulse - February 2021 - 33
Pulse - February 2021 - 34
Pulse - February 2021 - 35
Pulse - February 2021 - 36
Pulse - February 2021 - 37
Pulse - February 2021 - 38
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Pulse - February 2021 - From the SCVMA Office
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