Somos Amigos Holds Its April Clinic, Expands Diabetes Care, and Expresses Gratitude for Parishioners’ Support
At last, Somos Amigos Medical Missions has been able to return volunteers to the Dominican Republic after a long hiatus due to the pandemic. Although the government is still restricting dental operations, a small group of medical volunteers was allowed to travel and provide care during the April clinic. They were welcomed to the little town of Naranjito for the first time in two years.
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 its August 2021 blog. Last month, with fewer volunteers than in pre-pandemic times, Somos Amigos once again partnered with Dominican healthcare providers.
It was a successful clinic, wrote Executive Director and CEO Frank Brightwell, in an email to the Outreach Commission. “Yes, we had a good week. Best of all was having volunteers back at the clinic. It was a very small group, but it felt as if we are finally on the other side of the pandemic, at least as far as staffing the clinic is concerned.”
In another success, due in part to supporters at Christ Church, Somos Amigos has expanded its insulin program to better care for people with diabetes whose needs had been unmet. Outreach recently donated $500 in vestry-approved funds to the program as part of its support for nonprofit organizations that are local, national and international.
“Before commencing with our first patients three years ago, we spent a full year investigating and consulting with renowned experts. We could not find a model of insulin delivery to patients in remote communities anywhere else in the world,” Brightwell said.
Somos Amigos began with six patients, whom he described as having "maxed out" on their oral medications. “Our physicians knew these patients would benefit from insulin. We explained our intentions to the patients and required that they attend an orientation with a family member or someone else who lived in the same home or nearby; we wanted to anticipate emergencies and properly educate everyone.
“We provided those patients with their insulin and all of the necessary supplies, and we embarked on a journey with them whereby they check in with us regularly to report their blood sugar levels and any concerns. Their feedback is reviewed by one of our physicians here in the U.S., and adjustments to their treatment are made as deemed appropriate. In April we brought four more patients into the program, and now they number 26. We have also implemented a schedule of yearly visits (or more frequently if necessary) with an endocrinologist and with an ophthalmologist,” he wrote.
“We are very proud of the insulin outreach program, and we know we are helping those patients live much healthier lives. The horror stories we have all heard about the cost of insulin and supplies are unfortunately true, and as we have gone from six to twenty-six, we have, of course, seen a more than 400 percent increase in the budget for this program. We remain grateful for the support of our benefactors, and in particular, the incredibly generous congregation at Christ Church.”
To learn more about Somos Amigos, feel free to speak to parishioners Shahra Toth and Dione Mahoney, who regularly volunteer at the Naranjito clinic when circumstances permit. Former parishioners Ed and Mary Keath also were regular volunteers, and she 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.)
Columbia Community Care Seeks Volunteers on Saturdays, Continues to Request Diapers, Personal Care Items
At Christ Church, members of R.A.G.E and the Outreach Commission ask parishioners to continue supporting the all-volunteer organization, Columbia Community Care (CCC). Please look for updates, such as requests for volunteers on Saturday mornings, posted in the CCC Facebook Group. There you’ll find a need for volunteers to take grocery items to one of the three distribution sites after pickup at the CCC pantry building, 10750 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. The dates to sign up this month are May 14, May 21, and May 28 but the signup form goes through next fall.
Please keep collecting diapers, baby wipes, sanitary and personal care items, and adult diapers. Put any of these in the yellow bin, marked “CCC,” inside the Parish Hall. Drop off items on weekdays when the church office is open or on Sunday. The Christ Church point of contact is Violet Smith, who monitors the bins and delivers their contents.
Afghan Family Update
On Sunday, May 22, don’t miss the chance to meet our Afghan family, from 9:00 – 10:15 a.m. in the lower level of Old Brick. The family is very much looking forward to being able to express its thanks to as many members of Christ Church as possible, and it will be an opportunity for many of us to meet this extraordinary family. Members of St. John’s Episcopal Church and the Patapsco Friends (a Quaker community), our partner organizations, will also be here to meet the family. Refreshments will be served. If you would like to help, please contact Pat DeLorenzo.
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 its shopping lists. The yellow bin is 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 email@example.com. Your help is greatly welcomed and appreciated. Thank you.