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Series

Linda – I Found My Passion for Local Healthcare Education Abroad

As a doctoral student in archaeology, I lived and led excavations near remote villages. Every evening, after the work was done, I would spend time with the local women. I quickly realized how different their lives were because they did not have access to the modern medications we all take for granted. I observed many well-meaning attempts to send medications that actually caused more harm than good and knew there had to be a way to meet this tremendous need. So, I started working with nonprofit organizations and pharmaceutical companies to provide medications at a lower cost. But, I soon discovered there was even more need for education. Eventually, I set up a nonprofit first in Washington, DC, and then in Loudoun County to serve the needs of under-resourced regions throughout 100 countries. We would answer very basic questions, like “How do I prevent this problem?” and “What is the proper dose?”

The Next Chapter

In 1994, we moved our offices to Loudoun County, expanding our mission to include the local communities. We found that there was very little infrastructure to support low-income families among the 100,000 people living in Loudoun County. A year later, we developed a curriculum to support pregnant women and children at risk. Our training materials were distributed throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. In the meantime, we continued to provide local support to those in need in Loudoun. Our flagship program, Healthy Families Loudoun, focused on prenatal care and child abuse prevention. Healthy Families Virginia has consistently recognized our efforts as one of the Top 5 in the Commonwealth in terms of outcomes.

Now, 25 years later, we have greatly expanded our programs to help create self-reliance and achievement both locally and abroad. We have been able to reduce homelessness and high school dropout rates in Sterling. We started a program so middle and high school students can mentor younger children. And, we are developing educational programs focused on sustainability, including our new aquaponics education center, which will bring together this diverse set of educational programs to support economically disadvantaged children and teens with special needs in our region.

It’s such an interesting time to be running a nonprofit headquartered in Loudoun County. Despite our wealth and values, it is hard, very hard, to raise funds for local causes. We find we get more sponsorship interest from local companies in our international programs than in those that help people right here in the county. Our local efforts directly contribute to the economic viability of this region, and yet, it remains a tough sell. I only hope that, as we celebrate all the good that the nonprofits do in Loudoun, that more individuals and businesses will make the choice to support these worthwhile organizations and the people they help.

Won’t you join us to make a difference in Loudoun County?