Good Evening everyone,
My name is Caheri Gutierrez, I am 22 years old and I work for youth ALIVE! As a vp educator.
It is an absolute honor to be here tonight with all you and I will tell you why.
I was 18 years old On November 20 2008. I was headed to work when two friends and I stopped at a red light on the intersection of 98th ave and San leandro blvd in Oakland. The next thing that happened was something I never expected. As I sat in the passenger side of my friends car I felt a sudden intense shock all over my body I react when I hear the driver screaming that he had been shot, when I tried to reach over to help he looked at me in disbelieve and said Caheri you’ve been shot. I then sat back and found half of my face had exploded unto the dashboard. I reached over to touch my face and my hand slumped in. That night I nearly lost my life. But highland hospital saved me. During my hospitalization at highland I received life changing treatment. I would like to thank the surgeons, the nurses, the RTs , the social workers and the janitors for being heroes in their own way.
When I finally gained consciousness I woke up to a woman who is an angel on earth. She introduced herself and said that she was an intervention specialist for caught in the cross fire, she said her name was Tammy Cloud. Caught in the Crossfire rang a bell to me, they had been a vital help to my family when my brother was shot a few years ago. So I immediately signed the consent.
With the help of the medical staff and Tammy Cloud my life completely changed for the better. When I was released from highland hospital Tammy worked with me diligently. She would to my home daily to check in, to make me laugh to bring me hope and to help take care of business. During my recuperation Tammy went out of her way to assist me. She would provide rides to my hospital appointments when my mother wasn’t able to. When I had no money for food she would take me out to lunch.
Tammy connected me to a homeschool nurse who helped me complete my high school diploma , she then helped me enroll into college. I was still very insecure and scared to go out in public but Tammy was always there by my side being supportive. I started to play volleyball at Chabot College. Even when Tammy was out of work she would still come cheer me on and support me at my evening volleyball games.
It’s been 4 years since the shooting and I often ask myself where I would be now if C.I.C wouldn’t have been there. Thanks to C.I.C I got my life back together and not only that they empowered me to be a better person and a leader in my community. It is so important that hospital based programs like caught in the cross fire continue to provide support to patients. I still continue to receive ongoing treatment at Highland Hospital and every time I am there I am so grateful I even go up to the TCU and the 7th floor whenever I have to chance just to say hi and thank you to the nurses that took care of me.
As I was preparing for this speech I looked at the invitation and I was happy to see this quote “Without sense of caring there is no community” The care that I received at highland hospital and their injury prevention program “Caught in the crossfire” has made me into a proud community member. Wherever I go I always refer people to our resources.
One day I made a promise to myself that I was going to come back to highland and somehow thank all of the staff that helped with my recovery. Well this is my opportunity: On behalf of the 100s of patients that you have helped recover… Thank you all for your hard work, your patience, your sensitivity and your care to the community.