When a person has an innate desire to make things better for those who are suffering, the results can be powerful. This month, drop in on the conversation between two local doctors who each founded a nonprofit organization impacting families in Birmingham, across the country, and even the world.
Five years ago, ER doctor Julian Maha’s oldest son, Abram, was diagnosed with classic autism. Maha and his wife, Michele, felt a sense of devastation wash over them as they were told Abram would never be able to talk and needed to be institutionalized. “We went through a period of mourning,” Maha says. “During that time, we found out a lot of other families were going through the same thing.”
They decided to take action and founded KultureCity with the goal of providing a support system and network of resources for families affected by autism. The organization has now reached families across the country, being named one of the top 10 nonprofit organizations in the United States by GreatNonprofits. KultureCity facilitates a multitude of programs, everything from sending children sensory toys and tablets to organizing free music and art camps to partnering with businesses to make them more accessible to children with autism. This August, the organization will host their annual event KultureBall, bringing celebrities to town for the cause. “It’s great that we can not only help our son, but also impact families across the country,” Maha says. For more info about how you can be involved, visit kulturecity.org.
For a long time, Vestavia Hills oncologist Dr. Luis Pineda was deeply affected by the suffering he saw cancer patients experiencing, particularly how they were no longer able to enjoy their food. With this observation in mind, he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of Virginia College and began experimenting with the different ways food affects the mouth and nasal cavities during the stages of cancer. Originally from Guatemala and a graduate of the UAB School of Medicine, Pineda decided to combine his knowledge of medicine with the art of cooking by founding his Vestavia Hills nonprofit Cooking with Cancer. “Eating is a cherished pleasure,” Pineda says. “We try to create recipes for our patients that bring both pleasure and nutrition.”
Pineda and his team offer free services such as CDs that have executions of recipes and a cookbook filled with healthy and delicious recipes. His main goal is for his patients to enjoy life again. “People want a cure, but they also want to know they are cared for,” he says. “You show you care by going beyond the call of duty. We are not afraid of failure and have the satisfaction that we have done something good.” To find out more, visit cookingwithcancer.org