Alumni/ae Archive

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My Fast for Families

Sarah
This Lenten season marks five years since my family was established. Five years since my husband, Yader, and I made the journey from Nicaragua to St. Louis for the first time together, and five years since US Homeland Security became an intimate member of our family.

Like any family, we have experienced joy and sorrow; but unlike many, ours has been intricately tied to the United States Immigration System. A system which has the power to determine whether a mother will raise her children alone or with her husband; whether a child will live with full access to healthcare and education, or will be raised by an ailing grandparent; or whether a father will only ever know arc of his daughter’s smile through the grainy screen of Skype.

Not all families have experienced the immigration system to these extremes, but one family torn apart due to archaic policy is too many. This Lenten Season, in solidarity with those families who are separated and in recognition of my own family’s beginning, I will be fasting each Wednesday as part of a larger national campaign, Fast for Families. Fast for Families seeks to highlight the suffering caused by a broken immigration system and compel others to action. Comprehensive immigration reform is stagnant in the House, while each day families continue to be broken apart. Each day thousands of parents will be unable to reach for their children as they cry, and unable to offer an answer to the heartbreaking question, “When will I see you again, Mommy?”

Please consider fasting for Lent in solidarity with Fast for Families and thousands of families across the country. Whether it is a meal, a day, a week, or a prayer, join us as we call for immigration reform. Our families cannot wait one more day.

Sarah Caldera Wimmer
Class of 2006 Alumna
College of Arts and Sciences

The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.

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CHIMBOTE, PERU FINALMENTE!!!

dscf0090
Read Creighton Alum, Jackie Greene’s (’13) blog as she goes through her post-grad volunteering in Peru. Jackie is volunteering with Incarnate World Ministries.
Check her out at: embraceyourdisquietheart.wordpress.com/

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Creighton Alumna Continues the Work of Advocacy


By Becca Harvey, ’11

I set out to write this to let you know about my recent advocacy adventures. (I thought you would be pleased!)

One of my guests here at Casa Vides in El Paso, TX has recently won political asylum, but immigration didn’t give her an I-94 (a type of visa that is used as an ID for legal immigrants). It’s caused a ton of problems for her getting public benefits, but also just trying to function without a legal ID. She’s not the first asylee we have seen come through without this paperwork. So, I set up an appointment with Congressman Reyes’ office.

Because of my work on advocacy team and my experiences at Creighton, I felt very comfortable doing this, wasn’t nervous at all for the appointment, and was able to prep the guest on what to expect. I gathered resources, wrote up a summary letter to leave with the aid, and went to the meeting.

The meeting was this afternoon. I think it went really well, and I hope the aid/congressman can help this specific guest attain an I-94, but also address the bigger systemic issue. It was refreshing for me to meet with a democratic representative, as she was sympathetic rather than antagonistic.

Being part of advocacy team prepared me for this experience, and I wanted to thank you!

 

The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.

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Creighton Alumnus Directs Medical Program in Peru

By Mark Willcox, M.D.

Having graduated from Creighton in 2003 and after spending my spring breaks with the CCSJ on service trips, I kept putting off opportunities to spend extended time working with underserved populations until I had more training.

Finally, after med school, residency, and a year as chief resident at Georgetown, I ended up finding an organization serving the rural communities in the Sacred Valley, Peru interested in starting a mobile clinic. These communities for the most part lack running water, electricity, or bathroom facilities and have an extreme poverty rate of well over 25% and a malnutrition rate of nearly 25%, in addition to several other indicators of poor health.

So, I packed up and came down here (Ollantaytambo, Cusco, Peru) in August and have been here since.

Since that time we’ve started a mobile clinic that has served almost 1,000 patients, all of whom have received free care thanks to private donations. There was so much local interest that the local government late last year dedicated its own funds to continue this work, and as of last month started its own mobile clinic which travels to similar villages we have been serving. We’ve re-evaluated our strategy with this development and aim to support their mobile clinic – which is really more like an urgent care clinic – by dedicating resources to screening tests and preventative medicine, a concept that is quite foreign here.

We have also realized that a program targeting education and community empowerment is the best manner by which we can prevent common illnesses and recognize serious ones in these communities. We’re in the process of launching a program to train community health workers in an effort to reduce maternal and infant mortality and communicable diseases and to get sick folks to medical attention sooner.

It’s bittersweet that I will be leaving Peru to pursue a cardiology fellowship this May, but Sacred Valley Health will continue to train community health workers and bring preventative care to these communities in partnership with the municipal government’s mobile clinic. I will oversee the medical direction of this program and support its fundraising and public health programming and am very excited for the potential impact we can continue to have.

Check out our website at www.sacredvalleyhealth.org, or find us on Facebook. We are not currently set up to receive short-term volunteers, although we hope eventually to set up a program with the government clinics for an interchange between interested volunteers and rural medicine. However, undergraduates or graduate students with a background in public health education or global health or who have general medicine training who are interested in long term work, please feel free to contact us.

Again, all my thanks to the work the CCSJ does for the formative programming they do to educate and provide opportunities to open minds to the injustices that exist in the world.

Mark Willcox, M.D.

Creighton Class of ’03

Board Certified Internal Medicine

Sacred Valley Health Medical Director

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Providing Community to Maximize Potential

By Mary Henneberry, Winter 2011 Graduate

So…as of this moment, I’ll be living in Chicago, and working at a non-profit here in Chicago that works with mentally and physically handicapped people (from mild/high functioning individuals to profound/nonverbal, very very limited movement) in order to offer them a community of care that maximizes their potential. The job is pretty hands-on, though I’ll be working with more high-functioning adults in their daily/nightly tasks…especially with younger adults who are newer and therefore are learning what it’s like to be an independent adult. While they may have a developmental disability, the staff really tries to let them be as-independent-as-they-can-be adults (especially for these high-functioning individuals) so my job will be helping when necessary, but really facilitating the residents in learning that they can (and should) be an adult and do it on their own. Sounds simple, right?! I already know it will be a beautiful struggle :)

I officially “started” the job yesterday, but the position actually requires 4 weeks of certification and training, so that’s what I’ll be doing for the rest of the month. But so far, so good! So far I’ve learned that 1) the bakery is going to be dangerous for the bridesmaid dress I have to wear in July and 2) I have a lot to learn!! Please pray that I can make it through all 4 weeks/pass all the certification tests!

If you are interested in learning about what Mary is doing, feel free to email her, MaryHenneberry@creighton.edu

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Creighton Graduate Volunteers with JVC Northwest

Recent Graduates Dedicate a Year to Serving as Jesuit Volunteers

Portland, Ore. — A Creighton alumna has recently embarked on a year of full-time volunteer service with Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) Northwest:

Virginia (Ginny) Michel, New Avenues For Youth, Portland, OR

A total of 141 Jesuit Volunteers (JVs) – 28 returning for a second year – are serving in 20 locales throughout the five states of the Northwest, living in 23 JV communities. Going where the need is greatest is guiding JVC Northwest to expand into two communities this year to serve at Pretty Eagle School in St. Xavier, Montana, on the Crow Reservation and with various partner agencies in Wenatchee, Washington.

“Our JVs will be making a big impact for the people and habitats they will be serving this year; they will participate in transforming the communities where they serve and they will forever be transformed,” says Jeanne Haster, executive director for JVC Northwest.

There are two Jesuit Volunteer organizations in the United States, JVC Northwest and JVC.  Jesuit Volunteers can be found in a variety of urban and rural locations and are challenged to live simply and work for social and ecological justice in a spiritually supportive environment.

Established in 1956, JVC Northwest is an independent, non-profit organization that recruits, places and supports volunteers living in communities across the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Jesuit Volunteers serving elsewhere are part of Jesuit Volunteer Corps, which consists of five JVC regions that merged in 2009.

As a national direct grantee of the Corporation for National and Community Service, most of our volunteers receive the AmeriCorps Living Allowance and Education Award. Volunteers live in urban and rural locations in communities of four to eight volunteers.  This year, the JVs work with over 100 partner agencies across the region in many areas, involved in critical service  advocating for refugees, nursing in community clinics, teaching in schools on Native American Reservations, assisting in shelters, and organizing community garden projects, and many more important works.  Throughout their year of service, JVs focus on four core values–social and ecological justice, simple living, spirituality and community.

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