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June 30, 2010

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June 30, 2010

We had an AMAZING trip to Mazatlan Mexico in March. We were gone almost two weeks over spring break which even on laid back Mexican time went by very fast. A few weeks before the trip Lexi (age 9) & Alan (age 7) asked their classes to join them in collecting school supplies and writing notes to the kids we would see in Mexico. Lexi took charge and was able to give away about 40 packets of school supplies. Some to kids receiving a wheelchair, others to siblings, children and grandchildren of those receiving the wheelchair. We also stocked them with bubbles and other toys to share in hopes of helping them overcome the language barrier and participate in their own unique way. Lexi was a big help in the administrative end of things, paperwork & photo taking, while Alan was more interested in helping Jeff in the mechanical world. He would hang out in the shop, follow Jeff and other guys around like a shadow, fetch tools and other tasks as he is beginning to enter the “man cave” phase. Lexi, Alan and I were also able to participate in some “art therapy” with the kids attending Padres y Compadres rehab center. I had fun watching faces light up as the kids dotted, blended and smeared colors of paint on the paper, floor, themselves, each other and me! My camera even had an added stroke of red from sweet Marisol by the end of the day.Later in the week we were able to color with the children as well and learned a very important lesson: make sure you only bring washable markers! A few of Lexi's classmates were gracious enough to donate packs of markers, and we discovered not all of them wash off easily off floors, walls, legs, faces etc. Alan may have come up with a new approach to physical therapy, I think we should call it “boys will be boys therapy!” Alan & Carlitos played catch for quite a while and I was amazed how far and accurate Carlitos was able to throw a ball. Later the two of them with Leo (who is blind) built a tower blocks, crashed it, built it again, crash, build . I left the room for a while, but all over the campus we heard laughter and happy screams and later the stories of the “ultimate ball war” where everyone in the room got into the game. I believe it began tossing or kicking a ball back and forth, then two at a time, maybe eight, soon a dozen or more all going back and forth. In the air, on the ground, over heads, through legs, whew! Everyone looked a little tired after; adults, kids, mobile or not. While the kids and I played, Jeff and others spent several days working hard in the sun & dirt refurbishing 100 wheelchairs for the distributions. As a much awaited gift on Jeff's birthday, the truck we loaded at our house before we left showed up with 100 more wheelchairs ready to distribute! The truck was running on Latin time and was expected mañana, mañana, mañana. (which literally translates more like “not today”) We were just hoping it would arrive while we were still there:)! It was SOOO cool to see the whole campus and many kids from the neighborhood gather to unload the truck. Even Anna (age 22 with Cerebral Palsy) came to help! Overall we were able to give away around 60 wheelchairs plus walkers, canes & crutches. Jeff was able to work on one wheelchair with Lexi & Alan. He had to take time out from running like the energizer bunny between the other groups, and it gave Alan the chance to use more tools! We were able to see Israel again. Jeff gave him his first chair in 2003, and a walker last June. With great caregivers and therapy he is receiving from Esperanza's, a partnering therapy center, Israel is growing into a very strong young man who simply needed a bigger chair! The unique aspects of this week came when participating in a few home visits. Jeff celebrated his birthday giving Aurora a wheelchair, who then gave him a beautifully decorated Christmas decoration she made. Note: she is blind and the detail is amazing! The team was able to encourage her to continue her crafts, and it gave her much joy, hope and purpose in her current situation. The team was able to build a ramp for Carlitos home and adapt one for Jorge's as well. We were able to give away “our first” Hoyer lift. It was donated and shipped down, but sat in a storage room for months as no one knew what to do with it. This was a new and exciting part of the ministry week. We hope to continue this aspect of adapting homes for wheelchair access and other support that may arise as well! And oh my, does God show us His timing through these small acts of service. The whole week we saw the hands and feet of God at work, but the personal invitation into the peoples home made it real. One quick story, (remember we experienced over 60 in the short week) Jorge received a wheelchair on a home visit midweek. He has been bedridden for six months after a sever car accident where he broke his neck. He and his mother were very thankful, but she was unable to lift him into it much less get it over a door jam in their home. By chance (aka Gods amazing timing), we were able to give him a Hoyer lift and build a ramp to aid his mother in moving him. He was able to get outside for the first time in six months to enjoy the warm air and sit under a beautiful and fragrant limon tree in his front yard. We were also able to coordinate a visit from a doctor and possible therapy in home. Neither of which he has received the last six months. I stood back and attended to my job of taking pictures, paperwork, and taking it all in, I thought about: It was quite a nice neighborhood actually, beautiful and well cared for homes. I cannot describe the amazing scent from the limon tree, we just don't get anything to compare to in Colorado. Watching this dedicated and diverse group doing what they can for this sweet man and his loving mother, yet strangers. Jorge smile at us crazy gringos as we picked the limons, especially noting him smile and laugh at Lexi pretending they were eyeballs or something. Followed by sadness knowing he is probably missing his own daughter he hasn't seen since the accident. Happy that our silly kids brought some joy to him that day. And many other things that you cannot put into words. Mostly I will not forget the look of hope on Jorge and his mothers face as we were leaving. I was looking out to them resting under the tree as we drove away and Jorge waved goodbye. I looked at Jeff and said, “Hey, I didn't think he had use of his hands!” Through Gods amazing blessings Jorge found hope for his future and the will to try, even if it starts with a simple wave. I can't wait to go back and see his progress, and maybe add another story to our memories! The offer is always open for you to join us sometime:)

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Helping others through Push International has had a hugh impact on my family and in my personal life. It brings perspective and balance to how blessed I really am.

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

June 29, 2010

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June 29, 2010

Meeting Sergio Valdez is a memorable experience indeed. Although quite humble, he is also very formidable, confident and energetic. His mechanical and carpentry skills were developed through a career in construction. He comes from a family of carpenters and craftspeople. He is strong as an ox and always has a kindly smile on his face. Sergio is also an artist. But that is only the beginning. Sergio regularly participates in the Annual Marathon in his home town. He was ranked 1st in tennis in the singles and doubles division in his district and is an athelete of high order. Since the accident which broke his back in a fall on a construction site 16 years ago, Sergio Valdez is also a wheelchair user. Working at Push International is his dream job, he is happy to tell others at every opportunity. "I never dreamed that I would have the chance to serve so many disabled people or to make such an immediate and positive impact on the lives of so many families", he said to reporters in an interview from the local press on one occasion. Today Sergio is the Director of Distributions at Push International’s Hub # 1 based in Mazatán, México. He oversees the modifications, adaptations and adjustments to each wheelchair to assure that every piece of donated equipment perfectly suits the needs and conditions of the person with disabilities and of his or her family. Sergio says, “Every day I am blessed to see how my work lifts people up, recognizes their inherent dignity and inspires them to use their own unique talents to overcome the challenges and circumstances they face in their own daily lives.”

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The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have seen mothers carry their disabled child into a distribution. I have watched them weep with joy when they explain how the wheelchair will let family members take this child out into the yard so that she will be able to watch her siblings at play.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

...make sure that adequate funding never hindered the important work of bringing dignity, hope, personal mobility and increased independence into the lives of people with mobility impairments.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

seeing that it is not only the recipient of the equipment who benefits, but that it is also the donor in the USA and the Volunteer who makes the personal connections to the recipient and his/her family during distributions.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

...professional, motivational and committed to deliver the best personalized seating and to making every customized adaptation and modification that is necessary so that the wheelchair best serves the recipient's needs.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

...open additional Hubs across México to bring more sustainable mobility equipment centers based on successful partnering with local supporters and advocates - replicating the model established in Mazatlán.

Ways to make it better...

... funding would allow Teams to work back-to-back in immediate succession so that projects would get completed more quickly and sequentially. Result: More equipment donated to more people more quickly and more efficiently.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

... reliable sources of funding. Everyone is a volunteer except Sergio who was written about earlier.

One thing I'd also say is that...

The Push experience is a life-changer for the Volunteer Team Members. This is a place where you can SEE how what you are doing makes an IMMEDIATE and POSITIVE impact on the lives of the recipients - at every distribution event.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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Someone with 3 hours to volunteer could help us load equipment into a container headed to Mexico, collect equipment in their area, help plan a fundraiser, help in the office.... Contact us, there is plenty of work to be done! Volunteer