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Rochester nonprofit starts fundraising campaign

Rochester nonprofit Hands for Humanity has started its first official fundraising campaign, trying to raise $10,000 by Oct. 1 to fund college scholarships for impoverished children in Ecuador.

The Ecuadorian students are individuals who otherwise could not afford college and the scholarships are expected to lift them out of poverty once their professional careers begin.

The organization is funded by donations. It undertakes medical and social-services mission trips each year, with work on-site accomplished by volunteers, many of whom travel at their own expense from the Rochester region.

The organization's work in Ecuador has included repairing and updating an orphanage, pediatric surgery for conditions such as club foot and hip displacement and preventive vaccinations for hundreds of children.

Hands for Humanity has also coordinated journeys to Rochester for 16 children from Ecuador in need of complex heart, orthopedic and urinary-system surgery so they could get compassionate-care-program treatment at Mayo Clinic.



"We currently have six young women in college that we are sponsoring," said Kate Welp, Hands for Humanity founder and a surgical cardiac nurse at Mayo Clinic's Saint Marys Hospital.

One of the students receiving a scholarship,Kerly Maritza Gutiérrez Cevallos, is attending law school.

"This grant has shaped my future and my family's future…if it weren't for the big heart of those who are part of Hands for Humanity, I wouldn't be going to law school," Cevallos said from Ecuador via email.

The scholarship, she said, is "like a gift from God." She hopes her career as a lawyer will help her be able to afford medical care for her mother.

Retired Rochester resident and Hands for Humanity board member Cris Fischer provided scholarship funding for Gutiérrez Cevallos, with whom she communicates regularly.

"In every note and letter she talks about how grateful she is for the support," Fischer said.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Tony Stans has made several sojourns to Ecuador with Hands for Humanity over the past several years.


"Most of the volunteers do have some connection with Mayo," Stans said. "We're grateful that Mayo has sponsored these kids and support us to be able to go down there and to help."

Mayo Clinic receives award

President Rafael Correa of Ecuador conferred an award of appreciation upon Mayo Clinic for care provided to Ecuadorian children.

"Most have been congenital heart cases, a couple in neurology, a few complex orthopedic cases," said Welp, of Rochester.

Hands for Humanity has provided surgery for more than 150 kids at a clinic it partners with in Ecuador.But some of the kids referred to Hands for Humanity volunteer health providers have greater needs than can be handled there. Those are the ones who travel to Rochester.

The presidential award in Ecuador was accepted in person this spring by Welp.

RCTC nursing students study abroad

Four Rochester Community and Technical College nursing student study-abroad groups have traveled to Ecuador over the past several years, offering a firsthand look at international nursing for 49 students from the Rochester campus.


RCTC nursing students put on a wellness fair that provided health education for local Ecuadorians about topics such as breast self exams to check for breast cancer. They created medical records for kids at an orphanage Hands for Humanity often visits so the kids will have a lifelong record of their medical care. And they visited hospitals and visited an orphanage and a home housing persons affected by leprosy.

"There was just a lot of love there. They welcomed us unconditionally," said Kelly Adler of Lake City, who will graduate in December.

When she first learned about the study-abroad program she said, "oh, that's a lot of money" (students pay their own travel and lodging expenses plus a fee to Hands for Humanity). But after committing to the journey and experiencing the culture in Ecuador, she said, "it was worth the trip."

The next non-medical Hands for Humanity effort in Ecuador is scheduled for October for a social services mission at the Hogar Belen orphanage.

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