By Tim Ryan

On a bright Tuesday, the Rotary Club of Newport News had the honor of hosting a beacon of hope and healing in our community: Dr. Carmen Johnson-Martell, President of Love The Tree of Life Clinic. Dr. Johnson-Martell, a passionate and experienced healthcare professional, shared her inspiring journey and her organization’s mission with us.

Love The Tree of Life Clinic, established as a non-profit 501(c)(3) medical ministry in July 2021, is a testament to compassionate healthcare. With a newly acquired 1,800-square-foot facility in Newport News, the clinic is a dream turning into reality, aimed at serving our region’s most vulnerable – the unhoused, destitute, underserved, and marginalized people. Slated to open in December 2023, this clinic promises more than medical care; it offers hope and a new beginning.

The clinic’s mission is profound yet straightforward: providing essential services like primary care, basic dental care, limited counseling, spiritual support, and even basic necessities like food, clothing, and showers. This holistic approach is about treating ailments and nurturing the entire individual.

Dr. Johnson-Martell’s life story is as inspiring as her vision. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in challenging circumstances, including 22 foster homes, she has risen above adversity to become a doctorally prepared Family Nurse Practitioner and an Ordained Chaplain. Her journey through healthcare, spanning over two decades, reflects a deep commitment to serving those in need.

During her talk, Dr. Johnson-Martell emphasized the power of partnerships, collaborations, and community outreach. She believes in unity – bringing together diverse resources and people for a common cause. Her presentation was eye-opening, illuminating the clinic’s vision, identity, and mission.

Perhaps what stands out most about Dr. Johnson-Martell and her organization is the underlying philosophy of meeting people where they are in life. Her life experiences have molded her into a leader who understands the complexities of poverty and the importance of compassion in healthcare.

As the Rotary Club of Newport News, we are committed to improving our community and the world. Dr. Johnson-Martell’s presentation not only informed us but also inspired us to look at service through a lens of empathy and comprehensive care. Her story is a reminder that every act of service, no matter how small, can profoundly impact someone’s life.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Carmen Johnson-Martell for her invaluable insights and commend her unwavering dedication to making a difference in the lives of those in need in our community. The Love The Tree of Life Clinic is more than a medical facility; it’s a beacon of hope, and we are proud to support its journey.