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Lauren River Swerdloff

Latina author raises awareness of volunteerism and free health care

September 18, 2016

  • Author Lauren Swerdloff attends her book signing for “Uplifting Lives” on Aug. 18 in Los Angeles, California.

As kids, many of us dreamed of either meeting a superhero or becoming a superhero. Do you have or remember your favorite superhero? If you do not have one, who do you admire the most and why? While for some people the answer might be Superman or Wonder Woman, for others, their hero may be someone who has inspired them to pursue their passion, live an intentional life and make a difference in the lives of others.

Lauren River Swerdloff is a human rights activist, a student at Columbia University and the author of multiple books including the latest, “Uplifting Lives,” which talks about how a team of volunteer heroes at the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic has provided free health care to more than 1 million people since opening the doors in the ’60s. Her mom, who volunteered at the clinic for over 10 years, inspired her to write a book about the incredible team at the clinic and how together they are helping to empower those who need a lifting hand and a guiding light.

With “Uplifting Lives,” Swerdloff hopes others will begin to help those with mental, emotional and physical problems. Also, she hopes people realize the importance of the free clinics, and of having compassion and empathy for others. “It’s a domino effect; patients are so grateful and they go out and pass the torch along,” Swerdloff said. “Even if we just helped one person, that someone helps spread the ripple and before you know it, millions of lives are being changed.”

The clinic does not turn anyone away regardless of legal or economic status; it is a vital part of the community. Some of the free services include medical help, counseling, a thrift store and even a food pantry — it really goes far beyond just health care. The clinic also hosts a pediatric day to treat children, do vaccinations as well as offer free tests and lifesaving information (in English and in Spanish) about lead poisoning, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted disease prevention, diabetes and violence — to name a few.

If we become volunteers within our communities and support such projects, we all can become a hero and make a difference in the lives of many, since we are empowering people around us. “Every time I see volunteers in the clinic, my heart feels joyful and I am committed to continue working hard so other communities take notice and see what they could accomplish by using their talents and skills for a greater purpose,” Swerdloff said.

In addition to being an author she has received many awards, including a Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama.

If a hero is defined by the impact he or she makes in saving and caring for others — we can agree that Swerdloff, too, is indeed a hero on the global stage. She continues to spread a message of unity, cultural understanding, equality and love. In 2017, Swerdloff will graduate with a degree in human rights and political science, and her mission will be to continue raising awareness of free health care and the importance of treating every human with respect and dignity — regardless of economic or legal status.

“Being compassionate is never a weakness; people need to realize that unity creates power — and when people from all walks of life work together for a greater purpose and take the time to see everyone as equal and help those in need — a magical thing happens and we learn to value and understand that there is limitless power within each person and together greater things can be achieved,” Swerdloff said.

The proceeds of her books help keep the clinic afloat. Find “Uplifting Lives” at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Follow her on social media and at

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