Oscar Ayon-Puga knows all too well what it is like to have worry about paying medical bills. With a brother that is mentally ill, his family has had to deal with balancing the responsibility of health care costs while paying for necessary things such as the gas bill.
That’s why Ayon-Puga, president of Ontario-based nonprofit Unidos Por La Musica, sought to give out grants to families in his situation.
On Jan. 16, Ayon-Puga and the non-profit were able to do just that.
It gave their first medical grant to Renee Hernandez, $2,000 toward her medical costs, rent and utilities.
“Two years ago this was a dream was of us to be able to help families…I can relate to the struggle and the pain they feel. Sometimes you feel helpless,” Ayon-Puga said.
Hernandez has been fighting a very severe diabetes condition, leaving her partial blind. She is currently injecting penicillin twice a day to keep her sugar levels safe, he said.
And because of her medical conditions, Hernandez has struggled to stay employed. The single mom of three girls has to rent a bedroom because of her ongoing medical costs.
“You feel like everything is coming to an end,” Ayon-Puga said about medical bills that can pile up. “When and you have to pay the light bill, even a $100 means a lot. We are glad we were able to help her and we encourage the community to come forward and apply.”
Ayon-Puga said Hernandez was extremely pleased with the grant.
“For me it was overwhelmed and exciting,” he said about the grant presentation.
“When you are able to relate with someone you are able to understand their need, deep down inside and the help this is giving them.”
The ultimate goal of the nonprofit is be able to award $10,000 grants, which Ayon-Puga said can really really help out a family with costs.
For now, the non-profit will aim to give out $2,000 grants on a quarterly basis. A date has not been set for when the next grant will be awarded but Ayon-Puga expects it will be sometime in April.
Besides the medical grant, Unidos por la Musica was also going to be helping out a college student by paying their tuition and books for one semester or quarter. Unfortunately, no one applied, he said.
“We are going to open it up again, and hopefully students will take it seriously, maybe we have to revisit the requirements,” he said.
Ayon-Puga said he was disappointed that no one applied, saying he thought the application process was already simple: They asked students to write a three- to four-page essay on why they were most deserving of the scholarship.
“If you touch the heart of the board you may be selected as the recipient,” he said.
Applications for the next grant and scholarship are available on the nonprofit’s website.
For more information, call 909-937-6187 or visit the office at 4055 E. Guasti Road, Suite 108, Ontario.