A free program provides hope and opportunity for a clean slate for young people in Southern Alameda County
Two dozen young men and women from Southern Alameda County
came to Kaiser Permanente Fremont Medical Center one recent Saturday to get
their past erased.
Under a Kaiser Permanente community benefit supported
program, Project New Start, youth ages 13 to 25 from Southern Alameda County
signed up to have tattoos removed with laser treatment during bi-monthly free
clinics at Kaiser Permanente medical centers in Fremont and Hayward.
Many of the participants are looking to distance themselves
from gangs or drug involvement. A collaboration between Eden Youth & Family
Center, the project also provides access to real-world experience for 150 youth
through community volunteer commitments, monthly peer support groups, and other
resources to help youth transition out of gang or drug lifestyles.
thrilled to collaborate with other community groups to sponsor the tattoo
removal clinics,” said Dr. Jed Weissberg, Senior Vice President, Quality Care
and Delivery Excellence, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. “This
program helps young people who are choosing to eschew their past and embrace
their future by eliminating those skin markings from a part of their life
that’s behind them.”
For more than
seven years, Dr. Weissberg has been the volunteer physician for the tattoo
removal clinic at Kaiser Permanente Fremont Medical Center.
“It is an
honor to be able to help,” he said, “and the Kaiser Permanente supported clinic
makes that possible.”
New Start is
a collaborative partnership with Kaiser Permanente Hayward and Fremont Medical
Centers and Eden Youth & Family Center. The program utilizes
volunteer nursing and medical staff in the tattoo removal process. Under Project New Start, participants must
complete 50 hours of community service.
Wheeler, Physician In Chief for Kaiser Permanente Fremont Medical Center and the Greater Southern Alameda Area, praised the medical volunteers.
“It’s such a
service of love for people who coordinate and do the work,” Wheeler said. “And
I’m glad we’re able to assist in helping people in the community turn their
Benjamin-Ajani, an RN at Fremont Medical Center who has been volunteering with
the tattoo removal clinic for seven and half years, said the satisfaction “is
in giving back.”
“We hear the
stories of these young men and women,” she said. “For me to help them get a new
start, I like that.”
Theresa Montez-Marshall, 20, has been getting tattoos since she was 15 years
old. An old gang tattoo on her back,
treated Saturday, July 13 is a faded outline now. She recently got married and is planning to
train as a massage therapist. She wants a clean slate.
“I know getting
these removed will help me with my future,” she said, pointing to tattoos on
her neck, chest and leg.
Cris Lloyd, 19,
of San Leandro, said he has never been in a gang and the tattoos on his neck
and hands are decorative but they are an everyday reminder of other people’s
think instantly you’re a criminal or a gang person because of your tattoos,”
Lloyd said. “I know I have to do this because I want to go to college and get a
good job. I know that if you transform
your mind, you have to transform your appearance.”
the long-time coordinator of the program, said she is grateful for the support
and collaboration with Kaiser Permanente in Southern Alameda County.
“It makes a
positive impact on the lives of young people,” she said, “and it makes a
positive impact on the community.”
information on Project New Start and the next clinic, call Cindy Santiago at