In April we celebrate National Volunteer Week. For me, this is always a welcome opportunity to reflect, to recognize and to express thanks. It is a time of celebration and inspiration.
Project HOPE is fortunate to benefit from the commitment of thousands of individuals who have dedicated themselves to the service of others. Our programs, which reach the most vulnerable communities, would not be possible without the expertise and passion of our volunteers. They are the hands that touch, teach, heal and bring HOPE. Their selflessness, along with the generosity of our partners and donors, helps to keep our mission alive every day.
Project HOPE was founded and built very much upon the compassion and will of our volunteers. Ann MacGregor, one of the first, boarded the S.S. HOPE in 1960 along with 22 other nurses. Together they embarked on our first journey to provide medical care and health education to families in need. Ann, who would spend the next 6 years of her life delivering HOPE, has said, “Those years defined…how I would live the rest of my life.” Her statement is typical of the selflessness and modesty of our volunteers, who tend to define their experiences not in terms of personal accomplishments or lives saved, but by what they received back in return.
I am proud to say that this spirit of giving, and its ability to guide futures, is as strong today as it was when we were founded, over 55 years ago.
Kathleen Ashton, PhD, RN of the Thomas Jefferson University School of Nursing, who recently finished a disaster relief rotation in Tapaz, Philippines told us, “What a privilege to work with Project HOPE! I have returned inspired and grateful for all that I have learned. I will share highlights of the experience with my students and encourage others in the community to volunteer.”
Kathleen, like so many other HOPIES, embraces the HOPE ideal, passing the torch forward and inspiring the next generation of volunteers.
Today, Project HOPE volunteers are tirelessly working in every corner of the globe, from Namibia to Haiti to India. In Tanzania, our volunteers at the two medical institutions serving most of the Tanzanian population – more than 47 million people-- bring on-the-ground training to local surgeons to improve the quality and capacity of care.
In China, HOPE volunteers are enhancing pediatric care at hospitals in less developed areas. Through our China Rural Health Professionals Training Program they have trained over 1,000 health professionals, improving essential knowledge and skills in pediatric critical and intensive care.
Volunteers are also keeping our promise to the people of the Philippines, five months after the devastating typhoon. They are deployed in hospitals and clinics to provide critical maternal and child care services and have even traveled to remote mountaintops via helicopter to reach districts otherwise cut off from much-needed medical services.
The list goes on and on.
As part of our commitment to improving health care around the world, we will continue to increase the volunteer presence in our programs. Project HOPE is driven to demonstrate the incredible strength of leadership that global volunteerism can have on improving the lives of others. We recently announced the recipient of our 2013 Volunteer of the Year award, Dr. Alan Jamison, acknowledging the extraordinary commitment and lasting efforts of all HOPIES through the recognition and tireless dedication of one Project HOPE volunteer.
On behalf of all of us at Project HOPE and the countless recipients of our life-saving and life-changing programs, we extend our deepest gratitude and thanks to our volunteers -- past, present, and future.
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