CEC Outreach News: January 20, 2022


Somos Amigos Continues Health Care in the Dominican Republic and Expresses Gratitude for Parishioners’ Support

So close and yet so far. Just when it seemed that Somos Amigos Medical Missions would be able to return its volunteers to the Dominican Republic, the pandemic interfered yet again. Plans to operate the January 10-14 healthcare clinic with a small group of veteran volunteers had to be changed, disappointing those who had hoped to be back in the little town of Naranjito for the first time in nearly two years.


“Covid, and in particular the omicron variant, just wouldn’t let us proceed,” wrote Executive Director and CEO Frank Brightwell, who said two people had tested positive who would have been working at the clinic. “We know that our volunteers could have pulled off flawlessly a week of selfless service and care, but we all also must acknowledge that there remains so much out of our control.


“We don’t want to put our volunteers, local workers, or patients at risk. “Canceling our plans was the prudent thing to do,” he wrote in an email shared with supporters at Christ Church. Instead, Somos Amigos once again partnered with Dominican healthcare providers. Dental care was postponed due to a government moratorium, but medical care proceeded. Five physicians treated the more than 100 patients who were scheduled.


“Our volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization,” wrote Brightwell. “Their dedication to our mission and our patients is inspiring and humbling. The eight volunteers who were ready to travel this week represent the best of Somos Amigos. How lucky are we… and our patients… to have people like them be a part of our organization? Thank you.”


The would-be travelers included a relative of Christ Church parishioners Dione and Jim Mahoney. They and parishioner Shahra Toth are Somos Amigos supporters who had volunteered in Naranjito before the pandemic. Former parishioners Ed and Mary Keath also were regular volunteers, and Mary participated in an adult forum with Brightwell when he last visited Christ Church in March 2020 to deliver the sermon at both worship services. (See their photo in this July 1, 2021 Outreach blog.)


Somos Amigos’ previous healthcare delivery model had depended on volunteer clinicians and other helpers traveling four times a year, collaborating with residents of Naranjito. Instead, Somos Amigos created a local model to serve patients in the rural, mountainous region, as described in the Oct. 19 Outreach blog. The plan was for volunteers to resume travel in 2022.


“Thank you for your continued support. We will soon begin to write that next chapter, but it will take just a little while longer than we would have hoped,” Brightwell wrote.


When donations to Christ Church are designated to Somos Amigos, either electronically on Realm or in the memo line of a check, the Outreach Commission sees that your contribution makes its way to the proper recipient. These worthy causes include organizations that are local, national and international. For information, please email outreach@christchurchcolumbia.org.



SAFE Offers Gluten-Free Food Indoors during Winter

The SAFE Food Pantry, a nonprofit organization that helps people who require gluten-free and allergy-friendly groceries, has relocated indoors for the winter months. Distributions of gluten-free or allergy-safe food will take place until further notice at the NonProfit Collaborative, 9770 Patuxent Woods Drive, Columbia, MD 21046.

The timeframe remains the same: the 3rd Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon. The next distribution will be on February 19th.

If you have safe foods to donate, you can bring them without making advance arrangements. Or, if you or others whom you know are in need of these items, please come to Patuxent Woods, which is on an RTA bus line.

Another way to obtain food from SAFE is through its partnership with the Howard County Food Bank. Clients of the food bank can receive pre-bagged, non-allergenic food items when they check-in for their monthly visits. For more information, please call or text a SAFE volunteer at 443-741-1060.


Collection Drive Continues to Provide Diapers, Personal Care Items for CCC

At Christ Church, we ask parishioners to continue supporting CCC by collecting diapers, baby wipes, sanitary and personal care items, and adult diapers. Please put any of these items in the yellow bin that's marked “CCC,” inside the Parish Hall. You can drop off items on weekdays when the church office is open, or bring them on Sunday when you come for worship.

Christ Church's point of contact is Violet Smith, who delivers the items to CCC for the Saturday distribution. Thank you to Violet and all donors for your generosity.


FISH Continues its Request for Cookies, Crackers, and Snacks

As winter continues, organizers for FISH of Howard County continue to ask for cookies, crackers, and snacks to fulfill shopping lists. They also say thanks to Christ Church for its response to their earlier needs, which produced an adequate inventory of household cleaning supplies and personal items. The bin is on the breezeway near the door to the Parish Hall.


In general, if you have suggestions about ways to help the community, if you want to get involved, or if you need assistance, please email Christ Church Outreach at outreach@christchurchcolumbia.org. Your help is greatly welcomed and appreciated. Thank you.