Garces Foundation working to help immigrants afford health care, education

Hadas Kuznits
March 28, 2019 - 1:38 pm
Chef Jose Garces want to help immigrants in the city's restaurant industry by raising money at the 7th annual "Think Local, Give Local" benefit.

Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia chef Jose Garces says he wants to help immigrants in the city's restaurant industry by raising money at the 7th annual "Think Local, Give Local" benefit.

The event, which promises to be a celebration of food, will take place Friday evening at the Loews Hotel in Center City. All money raised goes to the Garces Foundation, which helps immigrants through various health and education programs.  

Garces says the food industry relies heavily on immigrants.

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"They're washing our dishes, cooking our food, and so I noticed that there was a need for healthcare," Garces said. "If they could learn English and assimilate better into our communities, they would live better lives."

Through the foundation they are able to offer community health days.

"Licensed physicians who volunteer their time and we provide health services, diabetes, cholesterol screenings, free dental screenings, for uninsured patients of the immigrant community of Philadelphia," Garces explains.

The foundation also funds literacy classes.

"Literacy is a course, and that happens over three semesters that we host every year," he said.

He remembers a situation with a restaurant employee that really illustrates the needs of the community.

"One of the starting points of our foundation was there was a prep worker. He came to us really after the fact. He said he was really sick, wasn't feeling good, and he was afraid to go to the doctor because he was afraid he was going to be deported," Garces said.

That worker later died of cancer. 

"This probably had gone on for a year, maybe two years, and we finally got him enrolled, got him seen by someone," Garces said. "Had he been seen earlier, had things been caught earlier, he might have survived."

Garces says he hopes, through the foundation's work, to help others avoid that fate. The foundation hopes to raise about $250,000 at Friday's benefit.