A Day In the Life of Two Medical Volunteers
In the last installment of our series, “A Day in the Life”, we’re turning the spotlight onto two incredible volunteers in LWB’s Medical Program. LWB had its beginnings in healing children with medical issues and is now proud to have 31 volunteers dedicated to its Medical Program alone! Cathy Langguth is a fairly new volunteer who has just begun working with LWB in the Heart Surgery Fund, while Nancy Delpha, LWB’s Associate Medical Director, has been with LWB since its inception. Their heartfelt motivations for why they volunteer for LWB are echoed by many of the other LWB volunteers who could not be profiled here individually.
Nancy Delpha: In August 2003 I was privileged to travel to China with Amy Eldridge on a visit to Guangdong province where we visited two orphanages and were able to assess the needs of some of the children living there. Amy founded LWB after we returned from that trip, and I have been involved as a volunteer with LWB ever since in at least a small role including administrative work, foster care, and medical where I now devote my time.
As I think about a typical day working for LWB as a volunteer, my mind drifts back to the old days, my “pre-LWB” days, and what I did with my time. I’d send the kids off to school, maybe work out at the YMCA, or work at the school in some volunteer capacity. I spent time with friends, maybe shopping or lunching or having coffee, and I even worked in a part-time job. These activities all seemed meaningful at the time, and my days were definitely full. However, once I visited China, my world as I saw it was completely changed, and I never really desired to return to the way it was. My husband and I added two children to our family through adoption even though our biological boys were in their teens (I was asked many times, “Why are you starting over?”), and I knew that I wanted to devote my time to making life better for the kids who remained in China.
Most days are spent on the computer, emailing with China staff, other LWB volunteers, or donors. Whether I’m checking my email for updates on the kids, or organizing files, or creating Medical Records, or training a new volunteer, I know that in some small way I’m helping to bring hope and healing to a child who otherwise might not get the care they so deserve. On the way to pick up my kids at school, I run into our local post office and check the LWB mail box. As I forward the donations to the bank, I am reminded how many generous people there are in the world who also care about the children left behind. I also get to open the amazing donations that LWB receives – items like arm restraints that have been sent for kids recovering from cleft surgeries, or cards and pictures that a group has specifically made for the kids in LWB’s programs, or a beautiful art object given to benefit kids through the annual Art Auction.
Each day I receive at least one picture of a child whom we have either been able to help, or are hoping to help, with medical care in China. I love getting to know these beautiful children and witnessing their transformations following surgeries made possible through the generosity and compassion of our donors. Working with like-minded LWB volunteers who all share the vision of bringing hope and healing to orphaned children in China allows me to feel like part of a team committed to a common goal. And I love being reminded every day that there are so many good people who care and who come together to make a difference in the lives of little ones on the other side of the world!
Cathy Langguth: Like many other adoptive families, I spent countless hours on the internet back in 1999 and 2000 reading everything I could find about adoptions in China. We were also in the process of adoption, and I lived for the stories of others who were ahead of us and those who had already traveled and returned home. The anticipation of the wait back in those days is a feeling I have never forgotten. I especially loved reading the stories written by a mom in Oklahoma. She already had some young children at home but was on her way to China to adopt her first daughter. I could not help but join in her enthusiasm and excitement as she got her referral and began her journey. From time to time, I would e-mail this neat lady and she always answered me. I felt like I “knew” her!
We traveled in May 2001 to adopt our first daughter Natalie from Jiangxi province. Once home, I continued to keep in touch with other moms as we exchanged stories and pictures. I distinctly remember that Oklahoma mom sending around a picture of a precious little boy who needed help. I wanted to help him too, and so began my first of several nudges to get involved. What started out as one little child needing help suddenly became an organization that has grown into something so awesome and exciting that just being a small part makes me so grateful. That organization is Love Without Boundaries, and that mom that I talked to online way back then is, of course, our Amy.
I have continued to keep in touch over the years, always reading newsletters and occasionally being happy to help with a particular child or project. In the meantime, my husband and I returned to China in 2003 for our second daughter Marissa and then again in 2008 for our youngest daughter, Jensyn. My three daughters are now 12, nine and seven. The girls remind me daily of how blessed I am to have them in my life.
My oldest daughter, Marissa, is a “heart kid.” Her heart condition was so serious that there was nothing that could be done for her in China. We were allowed to adopt her and bring her to the U.S. even though she was very ill. Her purple lips and fingers will ever serve to remind me of just how sick these little “heart babies” that LWB serves are, and how important it is that we do all we can to help them while they are still young. I’ve seen firsthand what early intervention can do to improve and even save a child’s life. As a relatively new volunteer for LWB, I am finally able to do something to be a part of an organization of which I have been in total awe since it was founded and help other heart babies like my Marissa.
With three girls and a full-time job, my days are somewhat non-stop from the time the alarm comes on until I finally cannot keep my eyes open any longer around midnight. I work during the day at a large local hospital as an Radiologic Technologist. I am thankful that my job is such that we have some time to read or work on other projects. I am able to read my e-mail and organize what I am suppose to do at work. Then, when I get home at night I upload pictures of the children in the Heart program. My official-sounding title is “Heart Surgery Assistant Coordinator.” I assist Shannon Miller in writing thank you notes to our wonderful sponsors who faithfully send donations each month to help fund heart surgeries for so many of our kids. I also upload pictures to SkyDrive so that the sponsors will be updated with any new information or pictures of the children they are helping. Just recently, I’ve begun to write some short sponsor updates to be sent monthly.
I hope that as I learn more about each phase of the Heart Surgery Fund, I will be able to help out more. Just reading the stories of how sick the babies were when they first came into the program, watching how the funds come in from the sponsors until there is enough to send a child for heart surgery, and then seeing the post-op pictures of children who look so much healthier and happier is a feeling that is difficult to explain.
Now my daughter is considered healthy and is just finishing fifth grade. Our local pediatrician thought she would not have lived another year in China without the medical treatment that she needed. If uploading pictures to SkyDrive, or thanking the donors for their kind gifts to our Heart Fund helps just one more child receive the life-saving surgery they need, then I am just thankful to be a part of this beautiful thing. Just looking at the precious faces of the kids is my favorite part of my job. Hearing that their surgeries were successful and that soon, a mama and baba will be found for them brings me such satisfaction.
Yes, my life is hectic most of the time. Sometimes I am not sure what I should do first or how I can ever get it all done. But, I do know that I am blessed beyond measure to be a part of such a wonderful group as Love Without Boundaries!