Home 9 Patient story 9 From Refugee, To Volunteer, To Employee, Manna’s Birthday is Cause for Celebration for Southeast Los Angeles Families

From Refugee, To Volunteer, To Employee, Manna’s Birthday is Cause for Celebration for Southeast Los Angeles Families

Oct 25, 2021

Jedidiah Manna was forced to flee his homeland of Cameroon several years ago due to civil unrest and political persecution. After a long, arduous journey through various countries over many months, Jedidiah was granted asylum in the U.S. He reached out to his grandmother in Compton and immediately moved there to live with her and other relatives.

Grateful for the new opportunities before him, Jedidiah set out to enroll in school, seeking an education and career that would enable him to help others. However, with his recent arrival he had to wait for his necessary documents before starting classes. Although disappointed by the delay, Manna was not deterred. He soon found an alternate way to serve the community. He became a volunteer at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, California.

Jedidiah’s first assignment was in the Emergency Department, where staff immediately recognized his potential. “Manna,” as he became known by his colleagues, displayed intelligence, endless energy, a dedicated work ethic, and a devotion to helping others. His commitment was further evidenced in his next assignment in the Wound Care Clinic, where he continued to volunteer after starting school even though it required that he take four buses to get here, sometimes in the rain.

Seeing his passion for healthcare, a school counselor urged Manna to enroll into a phlebotomy program. Manna agreed it would be a great start to a career in the medical field, one of his lifelong dreams. Upon completing the course and receiving his licensure, Manna applied for a position at St. Francis Medical Center and soon after he was hired.

Today Manna is making plans to attend medical school. Along the way, as his heart-for-service harkens him forward on his healthcare journey, his spirit of thanks leads him to lay a path of grateful giving. Most notably is his annual “birthday gift of gratitude,” which he recently celebrated with us. Since joining St. Francis Medical Center, Manna dedicates his special day to greeting patients in our Family Life Center. With a cartful of baby blankets, plush toys, grooming sets and other newborn items he personally purchases, he visits every new mom and dad, presenting them with gifts and gratitude for the shared blessings of family and community.

The gratitude Manna feels is reflected right back by the moms and dads he greets. New parents Erika and Brian were overwhelmed by the gifts Manna brought them and were truly taken by his generosity and spirit of serving others. Holding their newborn baby Benjamin, they said they hope to follow Manna’s example and to teach their son the importance of giving back.

When asked why he has continued this tradition for four straight years, Manna says with a smile behind his mask, “Without St. Francis, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to give back to the community.”

Happy Birthday, Manna! Thank you for making each year – and each day – an expression of gratitude we can all celebrate.