When I took this job, I was told it was a 4 month position, but I didn’t hesitate in saying YES. I had no doubt that in only 4 months, I could make a difference in a child’s life. 4 months turned into 12 years, on an amazing journey with Mending Kids. I can’t begin to tell you how rewarding this job has been for me on a professional and personal level. Having been born in one of the poorest countries in the Americas, Nicaragua, I understand and lived the struggle. After I moved to the U.S., my beginnings fueled in me the passion to help others. My position began at Robin’s Nest, a beautiful house dedicated to the wellbeing of children and parents Mending Kids brought to Los Angeles for surgical care. It was a house full of love, generosity and compassion. Children in various stages of recovery, walking around, in wheelchairs, convalescing from surgeries, but always with a smile on their faces. Meeting people from different countries, airport trips in the middle of the night, hospital visits, after-hours phone calls, all to save a child’s life. And it was all worth it!!! Fast forward 12 years, 64 countries, 4000+ children mended later, and still with Mending Kids. What a journey! Now, as a Director of Mission Services, I am responsible for our Overseas surgical missions, Individual International and U.S. surgical care programs and our Hometown missions. I’m still as excited and passionate as I was on my first day.
Thank you, Mending Kids, for allowing me to play a small part in helping make the world a better place.
I want to express my genuine thanks and gratitude to The Cusumano Family Foundation, our staff, board, gala committee, our family of friends, sponsors, donors, partners, volunteers, and newcomers, who all came together on a blistery Thursday to prepare for our gala and join us in celebration of our three deserving honorees (Sienna Dugan, MemorialCare Millers Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach and Dr. Robert Bernstein) and then stayed to help us wrap up.
On a personal note, it meant the world to me to be able to share the night with my 95-year old dad who attended and was able to finally see and understand the magnitude of the work that we at Mending Kids do. He gave me the most heart-felt hug which made all the effort worth it.
I have thought long and hard since that embrace, about the impact our Mending Kids Gala night will have on our yet-to-be mended children and our goal to reach our 5,000th child in 2020. Our intention is simple: To give children the opportunity to have a healthy, purpose-filled future, one that allows them to reach the twilight of a life well-lived while receiving lots of hugs along the way.
On February 21st, we all came a step-closer to making this a reality for many children in the near-future and we have you to thank for this because, together, we are Mending Kids.
Thank you to our photographers Howard Freshman and Bruce Kaplan for making our evening so memorable!
And, thank you to all of our sponsors who made this night possible.www.flickr.com/photos/mendingkidsinternational/albums/72157689987638853
CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS
PERU-General Mission-Dr.Duron (April 6th -14th)
TANZANIA-ENT Mission-Dr. WILLNER. (MAY 9th -16th)
16-year-old, Elleni Solomon, has grown up with Mending Kids; volunteering at our Hometown missions, doing outreach and recently co-founding the Mending Kids Club at Laguna Beach High. Elleni’s long-standing Mending Kids’ experience inspired her to write a children’s book, Isabella and The Magical Brush, that teaches children the importance of dental hygiene. Her mom, Alem, had open-heart surgery as a girl and stressed to her that oral infections or bacteria can travel to your heart and cause further problems like heart disease, and for this reason, Elleni, felt the need to both inform and forewarn others. "By educating our younger generations, we can help them lead healthier and positive lives," says Elleni. The importance of dental hygiene is something she believes all children should be educated on to benefit their future selves; especially children in under-served or resource-poor countries. Her book is currently being translated into Spanish and will be distributed by Mending Kids on surgical missions to Spanish speaking countries. Now, this is something worth smiling about!
CRITICAL SURGICAL CARE FOR SICK CHILDREN
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Danielle Vogt
818-843-6363 ext 1006
Mending Kids Holds Seventh Annual “Imagine” Wings Gala in L.A.
Mending Kids “Imagine” Gala Has Huge Turnout With Hope and Inspiration As Theme
(Glendale, Calif., February 26, 2019) – Mending Kids held “Imagine,” its seventh annual Wings Gala & Awards Ceremony on Thursday, February 21, at 6 pm at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The event was sponsored by the Cusumano Family Foundation. Despite a postponement due to the Woolsey fire in November and the strange, snowy, local weather that day, the gala was well-attended with over 300 participants. The event is Mending Kids' largest and most important fundraiser in support of critical surgical care for sick children all over the world; including in the USA. The evening recognized three honorees who have selflessly given their time and support to Mending Kids: Sienna Dugan, Children’s advocate and Southern Methodist University student, MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, and Dr. Robert Bernstein, Chief of Staff Shriners Hospitals for Children-Portland.
The Gala host, Former Miss USA and new Mending Kids Ambassador, Ali Landry, welcomed our guests and spoke of why giving back is such an important part of life, why helping children in need is so vitally important and that health insurance shouldn’t be taken for granted. Landry, Mom of 3, said, “Speaking to you as a mother of three, I have health insurance; my children have health insurance. I am fortunate to have easy access to specialized care for myself and for my kids.” Ms. Landry drew attention to the several dozens of medical providers that were gathered in the Guerin Pavilion to note that there were officially more experts present than there are in most countries we serve.
Around the world, millions of children live without access to the life-saving and life-changing pediatric surgical care that they need. Mending Kids recruits volunteer teams of surgeons and medical professionals from renown medical centers all over the U.S. and Europe and deploy them to developing countries to treat children suffering from a variety of critical conditions, while training the local medical professionals to elevate their standards of care building toward self-sufficiency. They also help U.S. children through their Los Angeles Hometown Missions. Board member and veteran Mending Kids surgeon, Dr. Ayal Willner, said, “The Gala was such a wonderful display of the amazing people who do such great work helping kids all over the world! Supporting this work in any way, as a medical professional, as a staff person, and as a donor, allows us all to be a part of the Mending Kids dream.”
Special celebrity guests included Mckenna Grace of the upcoming Captain Marvel film, Ryan Ochoa of the soon-to-be released Indie film Room For Rent, Marcello Reyes of Modern Family and Musician and Actor, Dominic Scott Kay, Former Good Day L.A. Host, Mending Kids Ambassador, and Board Member, Dorothy Lucey and CBS News Anchors David Goldstein and Pat Harvey.
The night’s donations will go to support Mending Kids’ Overseas Surgical Missions, individual surgical care program and their Los Angeles Hometown Mission. For more information about Mending Kids visit www.mendingkids.org
(Pictured Top left; Actress, Mckenna Grace, handing out Bears to bidders. Top right; Mending Kids newest ambassador and Gala host, Ms. Ali Landry. Bottom left; Hope Award nominee Sienna Dugan with Ethiopian Mended Kid, Werkneh. Bottom right; New Executive Director Isabelle Fox (center) with gala co-chairs Rana Gebran (left) and Carmela De Brouwer (right).
About Mending Kids
Mending Kids provides life-saving surgical care to children worldwide. Since 2006, thousands of children have received corrective, transformational surgeries that have given them a chance at longer, healthier and happier lives. As well as providing surgeries, our overseas surgical teams train local staff towards medical sufficiency in their communities. Most of the surgeries performed correct congenital heart defects, orthopedic abnormalities, severe scoliosis, and significant craniofacial deformities. Mending Kids’ work is accomplished through four core programs: Overseas Surgical Missions, US Hometown Missions, Individual Surgical Care, and Training Research and Innovation.