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Salvador Adame ‘trying to help my Hispanic people live nicely together’

Salvador Adame currently works as an investigator for the Office in Public Defender in Worthington. Years ago, after completing medical school, Adame worked as a doctor in Mexico and helped establish a philanthropic foundation to help treat children suffering from cleft lip and palate issues. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)


WORTHINGTON — One year ago this month, Salvador Adame began a new phase of his storied career as an investigator for the Office of Public Defender in Worthington.

As a man who cares deeply about helping people and seeing justice upheld, the new job matched his philosophy perfectly.

“I very much enjoy my job here,” Adame said. “This really fit me well. I try to figure out the truth — who is telling the truth and who is not. There is never a good reason to do wrong, but I want to learn the whole story — to find out why they did wrong, to get the back story. I always try to do the right thing, and I think I’m helping people as I do that.”

Adame has worked his entire adult life to serve people in need, volunteering countless hours as a doctor and an advocate of right — of truth — over wrong.

Growing up in Los Angeles for the first 11 years of his life, Adame returned with his family to Mexico where he was born. He finished high school and then went on to college and medical school in Mexico, returning often to the United States to earn money for school and other expenses.

“I had a lot of different jobs,” Adame explained. “I taught English, worked on a golf course, in a restaurant, and in a Sears mechanic shop to support myself. My family helped, too.”

Upon completion of medical school, Adame got married and began a 30-year career as a doctor. During that time he found great fulfillment in helping to establish a philanthropic foundation together with help from the Red Cross and several other doctors, for treatment of children (and occasionally adults) suffering from cleft lip and palate issues.

He also became involved with an orphanage run by a Catholic priest, where he donated his time in treating the children. He would go into the mountains looking for people in need and spent time fundraising and working behind the scenes as well as in the doctor’s office, bringing attention to the concerns of the poor.

Then, in 1995, Adame was invited to become a sports broadcaster, volunteering his time at a local radio station, followed several years later by doing the same at a new television station. An avid sports fan, he enjoyed this position greatly, and it gave him an opportunity to address some of the issues he saw in the society around him.

“I used the time before the games started to talk about issues in the town that I saw,” he recalled. “I talked about respecting each other and respecting the law. About driving rules and the unfairness of buses not obeying the rules. I got into trouble for speaking out about it.”

He got into so much trouble, in fact, that his life was threatened by angry bus drivers. But that did not stop him from sincerely wishing his fellow countrymen and women would learn and understand and obey the laws he saw broken around him so often.

“Mexico is a very beautiful country, but there are so many wrong things there. So many people have no respect for the laws.”

Around 2004, things began getting rough for doctors in private practice in Mexico.

“It got pretty bad. Dangerous,” said Adame. “I decided that I’d been trained to study, so I’d study some more. I began a master’s degree in business administration, studying human development and organization.”

Around that same time, Adame’s sister moved to Worthington, and their parents joined her. Adame visited them several times and, from his first visit, he liked what he saw very much.

Then one day in 2012, his sister phoned to say their mother was very sick, and Adame rushed to be with her. It was during that prolonged stay in the area that he decided it was time for a change — and time to permanently move to the United States. Having become a U.S. citizen years previously, he had already crossed the greatest hurdle.

With his wife and three children still in Mexico, Adame moved to Worthington and began looking for a job, waiting to bring his family to join him until he had a stable situation. His years of medical work and time as a student had not prepared him for the jobs available.

He spent some time working as a substitute paraprofessional at Worthington Middle School and Prairie Elementary — a job he enjoyed and brought him daily work—– but without insurance or benefits, he knew he could not stick with that for long.

“Finally I just needed a job, so I ended up at JBS,” he said. “It was exhausting. Then, one day, I knew I needed something else, because I was not used to this kind of work. I remembered my training, and I did a Power Point presentation.”

Adame showed his presentation — on various issues he’d encountered while working there — to the administration at JBS. His suggestions were taken seriously, and ultimately, Adame found himself with a new position within two weeks of the presentation, when they promoted him to Quality Control.

It was not too long after that he became aware of the investigator position and applied for the job. His wife and kids joined him in Worthington when he was hired, and the whole family is fitting in well to the community. Adame’s two daughters work in town, and his son is a junior at the high school.

With Adame’s history of philanthropic work, it did not take long for his talents to be called upon once again. A strong Catholic, Adame got to know the Rev. Jim Callahan at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, who then asked him to help organize a foundation for treatment of people without medical insurance, the Lady of Guadeloupe Foundation. Adame is proud of this work, though he is no longer involved with it due to the possibility of a conflict of interest with his job.

Another way in which Adame has gotten involved in the community is by attending the Citizens Academy. Personally recommended by Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark and specially invited by Worthington Police Department Detective Kevin Flynn, Adame was glad to take part.

In existence since 2000, the academy is an eight-week program taught by police officers through which attendees come to better understand the whys and wherefores of the officer’s daily job. Given Adame’s interests, it was a perfect match.

“I want to help people know the rights and wrongs of society,” said Adame. “The rules and laws are so different here than in Mexico. I am trying to help my Hispanic people to live nicely together. We have a beautiful life here in Worthington. The intercultural situation is pretty good, but we have to pay attention to ensure that it stays that way. We need to socialize and learn to work together. So many people went through so many things to get here. It’s more than a place to work, sleep and eat. It’s their home now.”

No matter what his occupation — physician, student, JBS employee or investigator — Salvador Adame will continue to live out his philosophy, helping others and pursuing justice. It’s what he does. It’s who he is.