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Christ Church Outreach News: May 18, 2023

Somos Amigos Expands Care during Its Spring Clinic in the Dominican Republic

In April, Somos Amigos Medical Missions expanded the availability of medical and dental care at its spring clinic in the Dominican Republic. For the first time, the clinic ran from Monday through Friday, rather than staying open four days, “thus allowing us to see many more patients,” says Executive Director and CEO Frank Brightwell. Overall, a total of 423 received medical treatment and 108 received dental care.

Residents of Naranjito, a little town in a mountainous region, continue to collaborate with visiting physicians, dentists, and other volunteers to hold four clinics each year. But Somos Amigos also employs local clinicians to treat patients during the clinics, and at other times. The new, year-round model grew out of pandemic restrictions that have since been eased. “We had 25 people working in the clinic, nearly half and half U.S. volunteers and Dominican workers,” says Brightwell.

Although Christ Church had no volunteers on this trip, several have served repeatedly in the past and Dione and Jim Mahoney hope to travel again as soon as next fall. Others include Shahra Toth, former parishioners Mary and Ed Keath, and physicians Preethi Jackson and Ellen Hoke. If you or your family members are interested in becoming a volunteer, go to the nonprofit’s application site, speak with Dione or Shahra, or email for information.

Parishioners learned about the latest treatment model and Somos Amigos’ plans to care for a greater number of people when Brightwell most recently visited Christ Church. He delivered the sermon at worship services last fall. (His remarks begin at approximately 28 minutes into the archived video for Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, on YouTube.)

During the April clinic, Brightwell says, a dental team from Richmond, Va., helped reorganize the dental clinic, which is now at pre-pandemic preparedness. The lab is also back to pre-pandemic operations, in that physicians can order all necessary tests. Some lab tests were performed ahead of time. Providers also had access to new ultrasound and electrocardiogram machines.

The April clinic identified three new candidates for Somos Amigos’ insulin program, an innovative model that serves diabetes patients whose needs had been unmet. The program provides a schedule of yearly visits (or more frequently if necessary) with an endocrinologist and with an ophthalmologist to address complications.

Last month, caregivers also identified nearly 20 patients with other medical conditions that require specialized treatment. They have entered the referral process, and some have already begun receiving care in the nearest large city, Santiago.

New patients go through a screening/vetting process to make sure they are part of a target population that otherwise has little or no access to healthcare in the rural region. “We were able to welcome 58 first-time patients,” Brightwell said.

Furthermore, he met recently with representatives of 14 communities from which Somos Amigos receives patients. “These representatives are part of a larger council of community representatives who are helping us plan for the future and helping us identify new patients,” he says. Read more about this collaborative approach in the organization’s 2021-2022 annual report.

Somos Amigos receives annual support from the Christ Church Outreach Commission, in keeping with our mission statement to help those in need through organizations that are local, national, and international. In 2022, we gave $1,000 in Vestry-approved funds to Somos Amigos’ insulin program. Parishioners also are invited to donate individually online through Realm or by putting “Somos Amigos” on the memo line of their checks to Christ Church.

In an email, Brightwell expressed his gratitude for both monetary and volunteer support: “Please thank the committee and the entire congregation for their continued partnership and generosity.”

Columbia Community Care Recruits Volunteers for Pantry, Home Deliveries, Gardening and a “Free-for-All” Event

Now that Columbia Community Care (CCC) has restarted its home delivery of groceries to people who lack transportation, CCC is calling for more volunteers. To respond, go online to “I Can Help” and look for links under “Delivery Volunteer Opportunities.” Tasks include driver, sorter at the pantry, or translator, which is a shift that can be done from home. The CCC pantry is located at the former Columbia Flier building, 10750 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia.

CCC’s gardening project is at the same address. The goal is to allow CCC to grow its own healthy produce to better help families in need. In partnership with CCC, the Community Ecology Institute installed a series of raised garden beds. CCC recently asked for more people to use its signup form, which has slots open throughout the year. Tasks include “watering, weeding, checking for critter activity, planting, harvesting, and anything else that needs to be done at the garden.”

CCC announced that its three distribution sites will be closed on Saturday, May 27, which is Memorial Day weekend. But more volunteers are needed on Saturdays after that. Free groceries, produce, baby supplies, and household essentials are distributed at the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center, 10431 Twin Rivers Rd.; Long Reach Village Center, Suite 9, 8775 Cloudleap Ct., and at The Barn in Oakland Mills Village Center, 5851 Robert Oliver Place, all in Columbia.

Recipients are welcomed on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon, or when supplies run out, and volunteers are encouraged to register for their slots at each location. Those shifts last from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Signups for volunteers are posted through the end of the year for each site: Wilde Lake, Long Reach, and Oakland Mills.

CCC plans a “Free-For-All” version of a flea market on Sunday, June 4th from 9 a.m. to noon at the pantry building. Given the conflict with Sunday morning worship, why not attend the 8 a.m. service or delegate a neighbor to handle your unwanted merchandise? Pass along the CCC instructions: “Please bring your free items, your own table and chair, or sign up for a parking space and open your trunk.” Participants also are asked to donate non-perishable food or personal hygiene items.

At Christ Church, Leigh Smith is our representative who takes parishioners’ donated items to CCC. Please continue your support by collecting diapers, baby wipes, sanitary and personal care items, and adult diapers. Put them in the yellow bin, marked “CCC,” inside the Parish Hall on weekdays when the church office is open or on Sundays.

Celebrate Wellness, and Help Support DreamBuilders

Temple Isaiah, our partner in DreamBuilders, is inviting us to join in their MatzohBall Run on June 4th. It’s a fundraiser, whose profits go to help support DreamBuilders, Grassroots, and HopeWorks. In addition to the family fun run/walk, there will be health screenings, wellness booths, and plenty of events to entertain. Please visit the MatzohBall Run link above, or read all of the details on the Christ Church website.

Donate Snacks, Crackers, and Cookies to FISH in Bin on our Breezeway

Organizers for FISH of Howard County are continuing to ask for cookies, crackers, and snacks to fulfill their shopping lists. The yellow bin is back in its spot between Old Brick and the Parish Hall. Thanks for your contributions to our neighbors in need.

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 Your help is greatly welcomed and appreciated. Thank you.


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