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Volunteers serve benefit hospitals

SAO PAULO Brazil — Sixty thousand volunteers — members and friends of the Church from 180 stakes — volunteered May 1 in more than 200 hospitals in 150 cities in every state of Brazil celebrating their Labor Day holiday by joining the Helping Hands for Public Hospitals project.
Photo courtesy Brazil public affairsSewing shop representative of many in Brazil was so busy volunteers had to come early to get a machine.
Photo courtesy Brazil public affairsAmong thousands of children who took part in the service pair helps fold donated bed sheet.
Photo courtesy Brazil public affairsElder Robert R. Steuer of the Seventy president of the Brazil North Area presents Church information to director of hospital in Recife Brazil. Elder Steuer was accompanied by Elder Pedro Penha in his hospital visits.
Photo courtesy Brazil public affairsAt workshop of sewing machines and hospital linen staffed by Helping Hands volunteers Church leader is interviewed by media in coverage of large volunteer effort in Brazil. Project began in January and ended May 1.
Under way since the beginning of the year the project was a landmark experience for all who participated. Instead of refurbishing buildings as they have in past Helping Hands projects volunteers gathered in workshops and large sewing bees creating some 150000 donated items including sheets shoe coverings smocks pillowcases and infant clothing.
In Sao Paulo Elder Mervyn Arnold president of the Brazil South Area accompanied by Elder Flavio Cooper Area Seventy visited workshops where clothing was being sewn and where he made a point of praising and complimenting the volunteers.
This is one of the very best humanitarian efforts I have ever been a part of said Elder Arnold. A very real need was filled the work was well organized thousands of saints and friends participated and all were deeply touched by the spirit of charity love and service. My thanks go to all of our wonderful Brazilian brothers and sisters. Well done!
The activity under priesthood leadership with the support of the Church Welfare Services and stake public affairs councils enjoyed the support of a number of aid entities private industry state secretaries of health and the media. Church Humanitarian Services provided financial assistance which was used to purchase fabric and other necessary materials for items badly needed by hospitals.
Throughout Brazil there was news coverage of the activities. Major newspapers and television and radio networks were on the scene to report on the workshops and delivery of the items. In Sao Paulo Globo TV Rede TV and Cultura TV gave nationwide coverage to the project. And in other cities several live reports were made.
This was the fourth Church project in which during the two weeks prior to the project Globo TV the countrys largest communications network announced the event. Many times during prime time the network made a nationwide broadcast of a 30-second commercial spot concerning the Helping Hands program.
In Natal following coverage of the project Douglas Magaldi multi-stake public affairs director thanked the entire television crew. Gustavo Farache the station journalism chief answered: We wish the Church success in all its projects. You can always count on our station.
In Sorocaba Simone Marqueto journalism director for SBT TV commented: The objective of our team is to demonstrate good examples and give hope to those who have lost faith in solidarity and peace. But for us to accomplish our mission in society we need more projects like Helping Hands to encourage us and to make our audience reflect on our commitment to our fellow beings.
In the north of the country media coverage exceeded the success of previous projects. In Manaus for example all television networks newspapers and several radio stations covered the event for several days. Many times activities coordinators and priesthood leaders gave live interviews.
On Labor Day ceremonies were held in hospitals chapels and gymnasiums. Together the various stake public affairs councils hospital directors health secretaries mayors and even governors participated in the formalities.
Deliveries in Recife were attended by Elder Robert Steuer of the Seventy president of the Brazil North Area and his second counselor Elder Pedro Penha Area Seventy. Wearing the Helping Hands program vest Elder Steuer delivered literature and a Church DVD to the director of the hospital. Elder Penha enthusiastically stated: Today we had the opportunity to feel the true gospel in action. As we pool our efforts we feel brotherly love and this unity strengthens the kingdom of God.
In Santa Barbara dOeste interior of Sao Paulo a state where 60 hospitals were aided Mayor Jose Maria de Araujo was present at the delivery and thanked all those who worked so faithfully as volunteers. David Kuceki president of the Americana Stake was enthusiastic about the results attained: Serving is our duty. Taking comfort and relief to those in need is our purpose.
President Givaldo do Nascimento president of Santos Stake mobilized volunteers and organized large workshops in the city. He personally dedicated and donated hours of service to his neighbors. When asked about this by A Tribuna a major regional newspaper he responded: I derive great satisfaction from participating in this work; its true that we get home all tired out but we feel the satisfaction of having made others happier and more comfortable.
This project is of great worth to Esmeralucia Palhano director of nursing at the Santa Casa de Misericordia Hospital the largest in the city of Fortaleza treating 50000 cases per month including about a thousand surgeries: People dont generally realize it but these items of clothing make an enormous difference in our day-to-day activities she said.
According to her at least four sets of bed clothing are needed for each bed since this material has such a short life cycle. We use strong chemicals to sterilize them said the director.
In Recife George Teles director of Restauracao Hospital was happy to see the activity. His hospital admits 800 people where 700 surgeries are performed 12000 out-patients are treated along with 12000 emergencies each month. Donning a Helping Hands vest he sang and laughed with the volunteers during the final get-together. Afterwards he declared: We give thanks for any help we get since we always work beyond our patient capacity. Now we will have some breathing room in terms of bed clothing changes.
In an interview with a major newspaper Correio da Bahia Nubia Souza e Silva administrator of Sao Lucas Hospital in Salvador commented on the scarcity of available resources: Priority for the use of funds is always restricted to the acquisition of medications hospital equipment and employee salaries. Bed sheets are always last on the list.
In Santos a coastal city in the State of Sao Paulo V?nia Maria Cavalcanti do Nascimento a volunteer on the project commented: Ive been in public hospitals before and I know what its like to be without the materials we are sewing. I know the real value of this aid.
In Sao Jose State of Santa Catarina the project was a great success. In addition to donations Church members gave a series of presentations to children at a city school regarding voluntary service and helping their fellow men.
Being developed in Brazil since 2001 the Helping Hands program has already benefited millions of people and entities throughout the country. On April 21 and October 12 2005 for example 130 public schools were refurbished with the participation of more than 50000 volunteers. More than 15000 elderly people were helped by nearly 40000 volunteers among them 25000 children. Each year hundreds of these activities are carried out in every corner of Brazil. Today the Brazilian program serves as a model for the entire world and is spreading to countries of North America Europe and Asia and to Latin American neighbors. At this time all the stakes in Brazil are preparing for October 12 when the next project Little Helping Hands for the City will be undertaken.
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