CLEVELAND — You can usually find Waleska Berrios cooking in her kitchen and the menu is pretty healthy.
"Cooking with olive oil instead of having the salad dressing using some lemon zest and some vinegar on the salads," said Berrios.
She feels young, healthy and energetic but that wasn't always the case.
"Everything that I ate was giving me heartburn and I was having a lot of reflux and I needed to change my diet," she said.
Berrios was plagued with health issues: thyroid problems, diabetes, hormone imbalance, high blood pressure and gastritis.
After three surgeries in just two years she knew she had to make a change.
"It was a very depressing time, during that time and then I found a little hope," said Berrios.
Not just any hope, the Institute for H.O.P.E. at MetroHealth.
"We want everyone to feel that they have an opportunity to live their healthiest life," said Susan Fuehrer.
Fuehrer is the president of the institute. She says the program, which stands for Health, Opportunity, Partnership and Empowerment, started three months ago and it helps patients with much more than just choosing healthy food.
"The goal of the Institute for H.O.P.E. is to allow everyone to live their healthiest life and that is through good medical care, as well as partnering with social service agencies for whatever they may need whether it be good food, a safe home, help with their heating bills or help with their education," she said.
Berrios says she just utilized the food services.
She was in a group that met once a week for 10 weeks and learned how to prepare healthy meals.
"You will have the emotional support you will have a doctor on board that will teach you stuff and guide you," said Berrios.
She recommends H.O.P.E. to anyone who will listen because she's now lost 40 pounds and her medical issues are much more manageable.
For more information on H.O.P.E., click here .
This story is part of
A Better Land
, an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us