As politicians battle over universal healthcare on Capitol Hill, one community leader has spent a decade providing low and no-cost health services to those in need here in Los Angeles.

The Village Health Foundation on Pico Boulevard was created by Jewel Thais-Williams in 2001. It began as a natural healthcare clinic offering non-toxic treatments for people with HIV/AIDS. Today, the foundation’s mission is to provide physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health support to clients.

A graduate of Samra University of Oriental Medicine, Thais-Williams is also a licensed primary care physician and acupuncturist. Along with her team, Thais-Williams specializes in HIV/AIDS treatment and ailments that impact negatively on communities of color, including diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

“Access to healthcare shouldn’t be dependent on your finances. We all deserve to have our medical needs met, and that is what we have done in the past and look forward to continuing to do in the future at the Village Health Foundation,” said Thais-Williams. “Serving hundreds of people every year, no one is turned away from the foundation’s vital services.”

“My entire family has been helped by the treatments received by the Village Health Foundation, from my grandchild’s flu to my symptoms of menopause,” said Helen Par, an appreciative patient.

Thais-Williams has had a long history of community leadership and advocacy. In 1989, she and her spouse, Rue, founded the first residential care home for women and children living with AIDS in the United States. She has been instrumental in the early stages of fundraising for HIV/AIDS projects since the first reported cases of the disease and served on the board of Aids Project Los Angeles for six years. During that time, she founded Imani Unidos Food Bank. Thais-Williams was also the recipient of the Heroes in the Struggle Award from the Black Aids Institute.

To celebrate the success of the past 10 years of work, the Village Health Foundation will host the Healthy Choices Awards reception on July 17 to honor champions of alternative medicine.

The event will consist of an open house, lunch reception and fundraiser for the new Youth Leadership Academy; an educational facility with a focus on wellness, college preparation and career development. The academy will also include a residential home for youth newly emancipated from the foster care system.

Members of the public are invited to nominate candidates for the health ambassador category now through Friday, July 8 online at www.villagehealthfoundation.com.

To purchase tickets for the Healthy Choices Awards, as well as obtain information on making tax-deductible donations, and placing ads in the souvenir brochure, go to the organization’s website.