Jae Flores always had an encouraging word to keep people feeling supported as they worked to improve their health, a funny phrase to make lifestyle changes a little easier to remember.
So when Flores died unexpectedly in August, his loss was felt by the patients and staff of the Families Together of Orange County community health center in Tustin.
He had served as the center’s fitness trainer, running classes for the members and helping them in its gym. He had started the program and built its popularity with his upbeat attitude, his colleagues said. He extended his support for developing a healthy lifestyle to those he worked with as well, they said.
On Friday, having taken a few months to revamp the gym and program and find a new trainer, Families Together celebrated the opening of the gym, which now has a plaque in Flores’ honor at the door, with a ceremony and an outdoor group workout.
Families Together provides free or low-cost health care to the most underserved in the community. It’s health centers in Garden Grove and Tustin have at least 3,000 active patients, who have access to medical, dental, vision, mental health and fitness services.
Flores had been helping Families Together CEO Alexander Rossel overcome his own health issues when Rossel invited him a couple of years ago to start the fitness program at the Tustin Center.
“Jae made a difference and we will make sure his legacy will continue to make a different in people’s lives,” Rossel said Friday during the reopening ceremony. “He impacted everybody’s life in this organization.”
The state-of-the-art gym facility and the center’s weight resistance training program will be available to hundreds of patients completely free of charge, officials with the nonprofit health center said.
Families Together also offers nutrition and cooking classes through its Wellness Center to help people take better control of their health.