Read the full 2019 Project Report HERE
Letter from the Executive Director
Forty years ago, the then new, young, Pope John Paul II visited Boston as his first stop on a US tour. For those of us old enough to remember, this was a very big deal. Prior to John Paul II, it was uncommon for a Pope to travel extensively. In fact, Pope Paul VI was the first Pope to leave Italy since 1809 when he traveled to the Holy Land in 1964. He would make a number of foreign trips over the next seven years, but John Paul II would take things to a whole new level visiting 129 countries over 26 years.
The excitement in Boston, the Pope’s first stop in the United States, was palpable even through the pouring rain. He touched many people in many ways during his time in the city. Among the comments John Paul II made in Boston was a challenge to the people of the United States to share of their abundance with those in need and he particularly called attention to the needs of Latin America.
It was from that challenge that Por Cristo was born. Early on we worked with the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle to assist their work in Ecuador. Por Cristo would provide assistance of some type to eight countries of the region over the years, but the decision was soon made to focus on Ecuador and, hopefully, have a significant impact there. Over 100 teams of traveling medical professionals in a variety of disciplines would travel to Ecuador by 1995. Our pediatric cardiology team has continued its missions and is still very active today.
In 1994, the heightened challenge of malnutrition in a barrio of the city of Guayaquil known as the Isla Trinitaria was brought to our attention. We soon developed a new model employing local Ecuadorian personnel, working fifty-two weeks per year, to help alleviate malnutrition. Shortly thereafter, a major shift in focus was made away from the traveling teams in favor of the year-round malnutrition service. In 1995, we constructed the Por Cristo Nutrition and Health Center in the Isla Trinitaria, and expanded it a few years later. It became a primary care clinic and has been the hallmark of Por Cristo’s work in the ensuing years. Today it provides nearly 20,000 patient visits per year delivered by an Ecuadorian staff of 15.
We have seen great progress in the Isla Trinitaria since our arrival there. Back then, there were no paved roads, clean water, electricity or sanitation. There have been dramatic improvements in all these areas over the years. But there continues to be great need, as more and more people come to the outskirts of the Isla and form communities similar to what we encountered
upon our arrival. Por Cristo is there to serve them. Our major focus is on the most vulnerable populations --- children under the age of five and women of child-bearing age. Eighty percent of our clinic visits are provided to these groups, with a full array of medical services. We also pride ourselves on outreach to the community. We offer a Girls Self-Esteem program aimed at adolescent girls, a dental health program serving 2,500 elementary school children, and crucial home visits to high risk pregnancy cases, postpartum mothers, and malnourished children.
Forty years is a long time for a grassroots non-profit to survive. Por Cristo has, indeed, survived and, in fact, thrived thanks to so very many people who support our mission. Donors, board members, volunteers, staff, partners, all contribute to making the work of Por Cristo possible. On behalf of all those we serve, for all of you who have helped over these forty years, I have the true pleasure of saying thank you!
Sincerely, Joseph Reardon, Executive Director
POR CRISTO RECEIVES GRANT FROM THE BAXTER INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN SOUTH AMERICA
Por Cristo's Nutrition and Health Center is pleased to announce that it has received a grant from the Baxter International Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Baxter International Inc., to fund a 24-month project: Increased Access to Healthcare for At-Risk Women and Children in Ecuador.
With this support, Por Cristo will grow its comprehensive suite of community health services and expand the availability of care for girls and women of childbearing years and their children. By leveraging its existing clinic infrastructure, this project will increase Por Cristo's ability to:
- Advance the accessibility of quality gynecological services, including screening for breast and cervical cancer for low income women;
- Help women identify the early warning signs and detect potential problems during pregnancy through 1:1 health education and by developing birth-preparedness plans; and
- Improve the number of individualized home visits to at-risk, pregnant and post-partum women in addition to malnourished babies and children.
"The support from the Baxter International Foundation increases our ability to execute on our mission of helping underserved communities and tending to those that are ill," said Joseph A. Reardon, Executive Director, Por Cristo. "This grant will allow us to expand our reach even further to care for new mothers and their newborns and continue to provide access to quality healthcare to some of the poorest regions in Ecuador."
This grant also gives Por Cristo the opportunity to fill a new community health worker position. The addition of another part-time gynecologist will provide new mothers with information and education regarding available resources post-birth and increase the opportunity for them to visit the clinic within the first several days after birth. Patient visits are anticipated to increase nearly 30 percent with this new position and enables Por Cristo to expand its in-clinic services.
"Having a lasting impact on healthcare starts by ensuring that underserved communities around the world have access to essential health services," said Verónica Arroyave, executive director of the Baxter International Foundation. "We're proud to support Por Cristo and its many initiatives that are working to increase the availability of healthcare and community wellness for women and children in Ecuador."
About the Baxter International Foundation
Every day, Baxter strives to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who depend on Baxter products and in the communities where employees live and work. The Baxter International Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Baxter International Inc., helps advance the company's mission to save and sustain lives. Baxter partners with organizations around the world to increase access to healthcare for the underserved, to develop the next generation of innovators who will lead the way in advancing healthcare and to create a long-lasting impact in communities globally. Baxter is proud to support initiatives and organizations that make a positive, lasting impact in these critical areas. For more information, please visit https://www.baxter.com/our-story/corporate-responsibility.
President Leo Morrissey
All of us at Por Cristo were deeply saddened to learn of the death of our longtime Board member and past President, Leo Morrissey, who died on January 17. Leo was extremely devoted to Por Cristo and was always looking for ways to help the organization improve the lives of poor children in Ecuador. He brought strong business skills to his work with us and was constantly reaching out to others to invite their participation. We send our most sincere condolences to Leo's children Lee, Daniel, and Michelle and all his loved ones.
An Evening With Por Cristo
An evening with Por Cristo, a fundraising event, was hosted by our dedicated board member, John Griffin, General Counsel at Hologic, last month. The event was a great success thanks to all our wonderful sponsors and guests. Por Cristo is funded by companies and individuals who are supportive of our mission to improve the health and well-being of poor children and their families in Ecuador.
We are so grateful to those who supported this event with a generous sponsorship.
The Dunn Family
This event, held at Central Bistro in downtown Boston, was a great opportunity for those who were unfamiliar with our organization to learn more and get further involved in supporting our work in Ecuador.
Dr. Thomas Hougen, another Por Cristo board member and Cardiologist at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., shared with the group his experience of leading a pediatric cardiac team to Quito for the past 20 years.
Deborah Clark, Por Cristo's Director of Medical Services, spoke about our Nutrition and Health Clinic, the cornerstone of our work. She shared many personal stories of the women and children who have received quality, comprehensive healthcare from our top-notch staff in Guayaquil.
Executive Director, Joe Reardon, discussed all the programs offered at the clinic - from our pre and post-natal care for pregnant women, our nutrition program for young children, to our dental screening in local schools, and our girls self-esteem program. We aim to reach all members of the Isla Trinitaria who are in need of our services.
Organizations like ours are unable to operate without the generosity of like-minded corporations and individuals. You are critical to our ability to fulfill our mission and we are grateful to each of you for your continued support.
On behalf of those it is our privilege to serve who have received health services because of your generosity, thank you!
Por Cristo is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Gifts are tax deductible as allowed by law.