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A.N.G.E.L.S. Outreach – Neighbors Helping Neighbors During the Holiday Seasons

By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor

Twenty-two years ago, a life was saved, promises were made and an agency was founded. Twenty-two years later, thousands of families have found a bit of comfort during the holiday seasons as a result of those events and the A.N.G.E.L.S. Outreach Program, which provides such comfort, continues its mission of helping neighbors every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

On September 28, 2017 the A.N.G.E.L.S. Outreach will hold its annual fundraiser at Caper’s Pizza Bar in order to bring even more holiday joy to its Toledo-area neighbors.
 

Angel Mia Flores

The unanticipated origins of the program date exactly to September 26, 1995 when Lisa Canales, now a Washington Local School Board member and Democratic Party activist, went into labor with her third child. Canales and her husband – parents of two young sons – were expecting a daughter but had not yet selected a name for the new-born. All had gone well during the pregnancy, says Canales, without any sort of complications and, in fact, the initial hours of labor also proceeded without any problems. However, the situation changed after a couple of hours and the labor brought on an unexpected pain to Canales  – a pain that the attending physician recognized immediately. That recognition, recalls Canales, seemed to panic the doctor who shouted to his colleagues in the delivery room “we’re losing this kid.”

The doctor had diagnosed the problem as umbilical cord prolapse – a condition that disconnects the umbilical cord from the uterus while the fetus is still in the womb. When this occurs, the fetus is deprived of oxygen and it is only a matter of minutes until the life of the unborn is threatened.

“Now, I’m scared,” Canales recounts, as she realized that her daughter might not have a chance at life. After taking what few precautions he could in the delivery room, the doctor shut down the procedure and got everyone relocated to the operating room, telling Canales to concentrate. All the while he was counting the seconds on his watch as he got staff and patient moving, trying to minimize the time the baby would be without oxygen. The odds of survival, as Canales would later discover, were slim.

As she was being wheeled into surgery, a distraught Canales offered a prayer: “Please send your angels to save my daughter’s life and if you do, I will spend my life giving back to the community.”

When she came out of the anesthesia, Canales found out from her own mother that her daughter was alive but there was little else she could immediately discover. It wasn’t until two days later that the doctor told her: “I think she’s going to be okay.” To which Canales replied: “I know she’s going to be okay.” The doctor then informed Canales of just how precarious a situation the little girl had faced: “There’s no medical reason she’s here and healthy,” he said.

The promise Canales had made prior to the birth did not go unfulfilled. Within days of the arrival of Angel Mia Flores, Canales had started A.N.G.E.L.S. Outreach and within two months, Thanksgiving holiday baskets were being donated to needy Toledo residents. Over the following 22 years, well over 5,000 baskets on Thanksgiving, Christmas and, in recent years, Easter have been delivered.

Canales says her program is unique for two reasons. “We are neighbors helping neighbors,” she says. “We don’t ask for income statements or proof of income.” And second, “We will hand deliver our baskets – we take the embarrassment of standing in line out of the equation.” This year, she adds, Toledo Police Chief George Kral, a long-time supporter of the program, has volunteered to have some of his patrol cars deliver the baskets.

As for Angel Mia, her birth 22 years ago this week, was only the start of her involvement with the program. An Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with ProMedica Air and Mobile, Flores is vice president of A.N.G.E.L.S. Outreach and has been helping the effort for as long as she can remember – assembling baskets, shopping for supplies. She began to understand the reason for her mother’s promise before she was 10 years old and started helping with deliveries shortly after that. As vice president, she is now an integral part of the planning and operations of the program – a program that has no paid staff.

The Wine Tasting With A.N.G.E.L.S. will take place at Caper’s Pizza Bar on Thursday, September 28 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. For ticket information contact 419-917-5289 or 313-515-1075.

   
   


Copyright © 2017 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09/22/17 02:35:28 -0700.


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