At our February 22 meeting, Catherine Sielaff, a St. John's University student who is also a GCS graduate and attended RYLA as a student, spoke to the club about the community service work she has been doing .  Each St. John's student is required to participate in a service program.  Catherine has traveled to Italy, where she volunteered at a refugee camp outside of Rome, and to Greece, where she worked in a shipping port with a baking company which provided baked goods and a baking school for people there.  Greece has a 25% percent unemployment rate.  This year, she is planning to travel to Nicaragua with the St. John's Global Medical Brigade. 
According to their website, Global Medical Brigade at St. John's is "an international movement of students and medical professionals working alongside local communities and staff to implement sustainable health systems. We work in remote, rural, and under resourced communities in Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua and Ghana who would otherwise have limited to no access to health care. Each community receives a brigade every 3 to 4 months where hundreds of patients are provided access to healthcare and volunteers deliver public health workshops. Electronic patient records are collected for future visitations and to monitor overall community health trends. In conjunction with our Medical Program, Global Brigades also supports communities with economic development, sanitation and clean water projects, and uniquely implements these programs in a holistic model to meet a community’s health and economic goals. Our model systematically builds community ownership and collaboratively executes programs with the end goal of sustainably evolving to a relationship of impact monitoring. To learn more, please visit "
The group is currently trying to raise $100,000 for medical and sanitary supplies to bring with them to Nicaragua.  They are planning to bring items such as blood pressure equipment and toothbrushes.  They are working with corporate sponsors - for example, they will purchase 50,000 toothbrushes, and Colgate-Palmolive will donate an additional 25,000 toothbrushes. 
All the Rotarians in attendance were impressed with Catherine's passion and presentation, and agreed that her project fullfills our goals as a club, as well as meeting the goals of Rotary International's avenues of service.  Rotary's areas of focus for service are as follows: 
  • Promoting peace
  • Fighting disease
  • Providing clean water
  • Saving mothers and children
  • Supporting education
  • Growing local economies
It is clear that the St. John's University Global Medical Brigade project in Nicaragua meets most of these areas.  At our March 1 meeting, the club voted to donate $200 to this project.
Below, Catherine Sielaff is pictured with Rotarian Todd Hilgendorff, who was her principal when she attended Greenville High School.