Daily Point of Light # 2562 Dec 1, 2003

Serving the community is an integral part of the life of Dr. Marianito (Mark) Asperilla, an infectious disease specialist in Charlotte County, Florida. Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Asperilla wanted to help make his community stronger and better prepared to respond to emergency situations, specifically in cases of terrorism or a biological attack. Dr. Asperilla was instrumental in forming the Disaster Preparedness Assistance Team (D-Pat, a local bio-warfare response team that quickly grew to 35 members, in October of 2001 that was later merged into the regional Medical Reserve Corps -MRC), to help educate and inform Florida communities about how to prepare and respond during these types of emergency situations.

His efforts include serving on Florida’s Region 6 Domestic Security Task Force, the disaster response committees at all three county hospitals, and coordinating disaster certification training courses. Dr. Asperilla sits on the Regional Steering Committee and the Charlotte County Operations Committee of the Medical Reserve Corps and he is continuously involved in recruiting new members and promoting the MRC to local hospitals and other groups. He currently is planning an educational program for new MRC members, as well as hazmat training for staff of local hospitals.

Dr. Asperilla’s charity work is sometimes one-on-one, as when he provides pro bono medical care to uninsured, low-income patients who could not otherwise afford it. At other times he is instrumental in establishing organizations to help much larger numbers of people to gain access to health care. For example, in 1994 he founded an HIV/AIDS clinic at the local health department and several years later an indigent prescription program, the St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy, so that low-income individuals who have seen physicians can receive for free the medications that are prescribed for them.

Dr. Asperilla grew up in a family that reached out to those in need, and has continued the tradition throughout his own life. His concern for the plight of disadvantaged youth led him to start the Peace River Boxing Club in 1999, a community center that provides at-risk youth with an athletic challenge, positive role models and a supportive team atmosphere as an alternative to drugs and violence. He also cares about the unfortunate people who live in third world countries, for whom in 1994 he founded A.C.C.E.S.S. Care, Inc., a nonprofit group that helps to organize annual trips to South America where doctors (including Dr. Asperilla) treat the sick and malnourished.