Seventeen determined Medtronic employees joined a March team in Quito, Ecuador for a week of service and bonding. Pouring their hearts, skills, and strength into their assignments, the women helped paint the exterior of the two-story early childhood development center, tiled the dining room, and cared for the 80 children alongside the center’s teachers.

The center, off a dirt road in northern Quito, was loaned to the Foundation of Ladies of Calderón (FUNDAC in Spanish), and expanded with the help of Global Volunteers almost two decades ago. It’s a safe haven for disadvantaged local children whose single mothers work outside their homes, and has been in need of a facelift for a few years. FUNDAC requested Global Volunteers’ help to improve the the building, and this group from Aspire, a philanthropic group within Medtronic, was eager and willing to lend a hand. The tangible results of their efforts were evident!

Another priority designated by FUNDAC was to tile the dining room walls a few feet up from the floor to help control the ever-present problem of moisture in the walls, which is not safe, especially for the children. The dining room at the center was completely renovated with the help of these women from Medtronic, who worked alongside parents and a local mason. The tiled walls look just beautiful!

The new and greatly improved dining room walls!

After a week of hard and rewarding work alongside Ecuadorians and colleagues – many of whom they hadn’t met before joining together on this team – they reflect on their Ecuador service program:

Cheryl Ferkany: This service experience was phenomenal. I loved learning about the culture of Ecuador. I will treasure the genuine friendships I made with other Global Volunteers in addition to the teachers at the FUNDAC centers. I will forever remember entering the classroom each day and having the children run up to me, hug my legs, saying “¡Hola!” Our group was led by Maggie Bjorklund, who was incredibly organized and taught our group so much about this wonderful country.”

Volunteers and Ecuadorians tiling together

Becky Fox: “I was up for any task I was asked to perform, but primarily found myself doing manual labor tasks. I tiled, painted, sanded chairs, helped feed and change the children, and helped the teachers learn a little English. I learned that a lot can be done in a short period of time, and language barriers only slightly stood in the way. Maggie to the rescue! This service program differed from other traveling I’ve done because I was able to submerse myself within a community for a whole week rather than a small amount of time. When I get home, I will describe my trip as one of the most incredible experiences I have been a part of.”

Teacher Anita and Jennie Novellino as Jennie thanks Anita for spending the week with her

Jennie Novellino: “This is meaningful to me because it is directly connected with the community. I want to know for sure that my time and money is going to directly have a positive impact in the community. I know that will happen with Global Volunteers. I only like to do trips with organizations that work directly with the local people and help in a tangible, organized way. Global Volunteers is extremely organized and I am positive I made a difference.”

Amy Nguyen: “Although there is a language difference and perhaps some cultural differences, at the end of the day we all shared a common goal and purpose, which is to improve and enrich the lives of the children of Calderón.”

Holly Frankenberg: “I learned that even if you don’t speak the language, if you show up with an open heart and ready to work, you can accomplish a lot.”

Stephanie Luning: “This has been such a wonderful experience. I have been wanting to do a volunteer trip for several years and never took the initiative to find a company to partner with on my own. I am so thankful that Medtronic has partnered with Global Volunteers and that our team leader was Maggie. I have learned a lot about the culture through Maggie’s explanations.”

“This is meaningful to me because it is directly connected with the community. I want to know for sure that my time and money is going to directly have a positive impact in the community. I know that will happen with Global Volunteers. I only like to do trips with organizations that work directly with the local people and help in a tangible, organized way. Global Volunteers is extremely organized and I am positive I made a difference.” – Jennie Novellino

Michelle playing with and taking care of her one-year-old charges

Sandy Hickey: “It was inspirational to see the love and appreciation they had for the center and the children.”

Jennifer Chan: “Participating in a service mission makes me feel more connected to the local people and culture. I can describe this experience as: rewarding, enlightening, heartfelt, and fun!”

Catherine Bosin: “I learned the importance of building relationships, putting trust in new friends, and finding value in all parts of the day – the fast and the slow.”

Cathy and Liz painting the grates on the outside of the center

Cathey Massey: “THE most amazing experience I have had serving, learning, and growing with new friends, the people at FUNDAC, and my company.”

Leigh Ramsey: “I spent my week mainly doing labor. I chose this because I wanted to be a part of building something that will benefit the children of this community for years to come. I had the privilege of meeting and learning about my coworkers from across the nation. To see how much care the leaders put into their tasks showed they, too, wanted their contributions to be beautiful and lasting. This culture is different than others I have experience in Central/South America. The children are cherished by all.”

Sherry Oller: “The ability to explore a country while at the same time giving back is definitely how I’d like to continue to travel. When I get home, I will describe this experience as humbling, rewarding, BEAUTIFUL, educational, and absolutely AMAZING.”

Holly receiving a gift from María de Lourdes, the President of FUNDAC, as Michelle and Cheryl look on

“THE most amazing experience I have had serving, learning, and growing with new friends, the people at FUNDAC, and my company.” – Cathey Massey

Michelle Reed: “I had only traveled for pleasure not service. This is an amazing way to submerse yourself in the local culture and experience things on a more intimate level. This is a worthwhile cause.

Annie McLoughlin: “This program was much more organized and involved than any other program I’ve been involved with. Our leader, Maggie, was fantastic and gave us wonderful guidance in all aspects of the project as well as our excursions.”

Liz Riedel:This experience was amazing to see how much the teachers and staff of FUNDAC truly care for the children. They are truly determined to make sure the children receive all the support they can while at the child development centers.”

Fonda Barkel: “It was great to give back to a community in need in Ecuador. I formed good relationships with fellow Medtronic employees and local teachers.”

Allison LoPresti: “It was a very humbling experience. Maggie made this experience special to me. She is an amazing lady! I made hopefully lifelong friendships with my Medtronic team as well as the two teachers I was matched with.”

“I had only traveled for pleasure not service. This is an amazing way to submerse yourself in the local culture and experience things on a more intimate level. This is a worthwhile cause.” – Michelle Reed


Watch here for upcoming posts about the wonderful Medtronic Aspire volunteers.

You might also enjoy these Ecuador posts:

The Wonderful Women of FUNDAC – 30 Years of Care for Children

Your Guide to Volunteerism and Travel in Ecuador: Maggie Bjorklund

Helping Children in Ecuador – Playing, Teaching, Feeding, and Hammering

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