Corner of Love, a Christian non-profit outreach – birthed out of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church – that is supported by local residents and churches, has something to celebrate.
After seven years of involving citizens from Maple Valley and beyond in its mission trips to Nicaragua, Corner of Love has received recognition from the IRS as a tax-exempt organization (501c3) and will soon open an office in Wilderness Village. This news comes on the heals of its annual medical-dental mission that served almost 5,000 people in impoverished villages of northern Nicaragua.
The team that traveled to Nicaragua Feb. 29-March 8, called the “Care to Bless Brigade,” was made up of 90 individuals, including 53 from the U.S. and 37 from Managua and San Ramon.
“This was, by far, our most complex mission to Nicaragua,” said Tanya Amador, executive director of Corner of Love. “Our group of doctors, dentists, nurses and volunteers broke into three teams and headed out on separate buses for different communities in order to serve multiple villages each day.”
Before leaving Washington, a supplies drive was held and radio station KIRO and other media stations helped spread the word. By Feb. 9, the day of the team’s packing party, the group had collected and purchased almost 6,000 pounds of medicine and supplies.
Their cargo, which was packed with the help of volunteers from the community at Corner of Love’s new location in Maple Valley, included 7,000 treatments of Mebendazole, a “wonder drug” that is an anti-parasite medicine for people with waterborne illnesses, which are prevalent in the villages where the outreach serves. Over $19,000 worth of dental equipment was also purchased and taken by the group to outfit Corner of Love’s new dental clinic in the town of San Ramon.
During the trip, patients were seen in San Ramon, El Carrizo, Samulalis, El Jobo, El Horno, La Corona and Wabule. Most residents in those villages have no potable water or electricty, and only one in four children complete fourth grade for lack of basic needs, such as shoes. With three Nicaraguan doctors, two MDs from Enumclaw and Seattle and three dentists from Washington, the Care to Bless team filled 22,473 prescriptions for almost 5,000 medical patients, and also treated 176 dental patients. In addition, dental hygienist Sue Quinn, of Maple Valley Presbyterian Church, led a small team of volunteers that blessed 674 children with fluoride treatments and dental hygiene instruction.
Corner of Love’s next trip to Nicaragua, dubbed the “See Greater Things Mission,” is scheduled for June 19-28. Twenty-two people have joined that team, and space is still available. Volunteers don’t need to be a healthcare worker. All kinds of job posts are available, such as sorting pills or counting vitamins. Members of the mission will carry out three days of clinics, distribute shoes and do light construction work at Corner of Love’s dormitory and ministry center. The group will also spend one night at Selva Negra Lodge in Jinotega and offer a medical clinic to coffee plantation workers there.
The team will be selling “Nica Dinners” for pickup on May 30 at Maple Valley Presbyterian Church (orders can be made by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org) to help raise funds for the mission. Each dinner costs $10 and includes achiote chicken, rice, beans and chimmi churri salsa. And tax-deductible donations are being accepted to purchase medicine, shoes and building supplies.
“You just can’t imagine how great the need is in north Nicaragua,” Amador said. “People suffer from easily treatable infections that go untended to for literally years. Last year we saw a young mom who went blind from conjuctivitis. It can be heartbreaking. But now we are beginning to revisit villages for the third or fourth time, and you can really see how much their health has improved. Now that we are a community mission, we invite everyone to come and see just how life-changing an experience it can be, both for” volunteers and those they “will serve.”