By Kathleen Sieracki, Servictte Editor
In the last issue of the Servicette, you read Maureen McMillan’s report on collaboration within the Vincentian Family in the St. Louis area. Mary Ann Dantuono also contributed an article about Vincentians working together on the national level. Here is a story which illustrates we are truly members of a global family united in serving people in need wherever they may be found.
Two-year-old Josue from Panama was chosen to have surgery at the Shriners Hospital in Shreveport, LA, to repair a fractured arm which had not healed. His mother Flor would accompany him. The hospital would provide a room for the mother and child with a continental breakfast and dinner for the parent, but Flor would have to provide for her own lunch and any other personal expenses.
The family came to the attention of AIC–Panama, whose president, Amparo de Caro, thought to ask for assistance and support for Flor through AIC–USA. She emailed, in Spanish, to the AIC International Secretariat in Belgium. AIC staff member Bénédicte de Bellefroid translated the message and forwarded it to Lucy Saunders, LCUSA president. Since there is no Ladies of Charity association in that area of Louisiana, Lucy contacted Sheila Gilbert, national president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVDP) for assistance, and was put in touch with Dottie Sue, a local member, who in turn contacted the diocesan office, who referred LCUSA to the newly created Catholic Charities Spanish Ministry in Shreveport.
Catholic Charities worker Guiel has contacted Flor and her son. Josue’s arm is healing well and the doctors are pleased with his progress. Guiel assisted Flor with a call to Panama, and has been visiting her and other Panamanian mothers in the same situation. Long-term hospitalization so far from home has been confining for both mothers and children. Guiel plans to purchase toys for the children, shop for the mothers and provide a lunch outing. Flor has also requested an opportunity to attend Mass, which Guiel will work out with hospital staff. LCUSA has committed to reimburse any expenses incurred on behalf of Flor and Josue.
There has been another request to help a Panamanian family whose young daughter will undergo leg surgery in early–2102. The operation will also be performed at the Shriners Hospital in Shreveport. AIC asked whether they can go on benefiting from LCUSA’s volunteer support. It goes without saying that LCUSA is there to support and lend a hand whenever and wherever the need might arise. With the cooperation of our family members in Louisiana, LCUSA looks forward to working with all those involved in making these families feel at home in our country, through the extended helping hands of others.
This has been a true partnership of service involving the Shriners, AIC international, AIC–Panama and AIC–USA, SVDP, and Catholic Charities. What a wonderful model of cooperation and resourcefulness for us all. ?