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Children Without Borders Feb. 3 fund-raiser in Hingham helps Costa Rican children

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  February 3, 2012 03:28 PM

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CWB dental care (1).jpgCWB listening to heart (1).jpg

Thousands of miles away, in three clinics tucked into Costa Rica's landscape, Duxbury summer resident Dr. George Whitelaw's vision of offering free healthcare services to hundreds of children continues to grow.

Children Without Borders, a mission Whitelaw started in 2007, seeks to bring preventative medicine to the underprivileged sections of Costa Rica, where many of the homes are smaller than 500 square feet, have no windows or floors, and have as many as 12 people living in them.

Fund-raising occurs annually for the $195,000 budget for all three clinics, which are staffed by two full-time physicians, an executive director, and a slew of local volunteers.

Yet despite the (relatively small) budget, and the seemingly massive undertaking, the clinics are making an impact.

In 2011 alone, 6,500 people were given some kind of medical care, 500 children were given dental cleanings and provided oral hygiene, 950 children took part in a three-day eye clinic, and countless others participated in a 16-week leadership course to empower women in the community.

Moving forward, CWB is not only seeking to continue the status quo, but is looking to expand the services outside Costa Rica.

"We've gone from one clinic to three clinics in five years. We have two full-time doctors on staff and also offer psychology services, maternity education services, a dental program and a vision program. Now that we have a complete model with all kinds of health care services, we're hoping in 2012, to move the model and expand globally," said Connacht Peterson, a CWB Board Member.

The organization has yet to decide which country to set up shop, yet one thing is certain - the endeavor will take money.

Thus, to further the goal, Peterson and others will be throwing the third annual Winter Soiree, a night filled with raffles, a live band, and fund-raising at the Black Rock Country Club in Hingham.

In the past, the event has drawn about 175 participants, raising $20,000 to $25,000. This year, the guest list has been bumped up to 250 people, with a fund-raising goal of $30,000.

"I really feel like our organization is making a difference, and that difference should be sustainable over the years with the model that we have,"? Whitelaw said. "I think right now in Costa Rica, sick children are being taken care of who wouldn't have been without the help of our local fund-raising. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends in Hingham and meeting new supporters."

To maximize the fund-raising, overhead at these events is kept low. The space, the raffle items, everything is donated, as is all the alcohol at the bar.

According to Peterson, 90 cents on the dollar goes toward the end goal of providing healthcare and medicine.

Overall, the fundraiser is intended to be a feel good event.

"This year we've focused hard on spreading the word and making it a fun party that people can come to and enjoy with other friends and supporting a good cause at the same time," Peterson said.

What's more, these events are essential to the sustained working of the clinics.

CWB CPR class (1).jpg"We're a small organization and we are in the process of growing, but the vast majority of our day-to-day working of the clinics and so forth comes from these fund-raisers that we have," Whitelaw said. "This is one of the main ones that we have every year, and it's become our life support. It's what keeps it going."

The reaction from the local community has been one of support and gratitude, even more of a reason that Whitelaw continues the impossible task of splitting his time between his Milton orthopedic practice and this initiative.

"The people inside the [district] seem to be very grateful the more programs we add. We started off bring a primary care clinics, now we have programs in education, we have a psychologist, we brought in a local dental school, and have after school programs for these children. We found in order to take care of them, you have to do all of these things," Whitelaw said.

"The people outside of the community, the regular Costa Ricans who aren't in these [districts], they are grateful too," Whitelaw said. "It's an area that is hard for their government to take care of, and they understand that these people need the help and they are grateful that there are people willing to do it."

The organization will be hosting more -throughout the year, including a Beach Party in Duxbury this summer.

The Winter Soiree event is at Hingham's Black Rock Country Club on Feb. 3 and starts at 7:30 p.m. The night will include many raffle items, silent and live auctions as well as a live band.

Tickets to the event cost $75. Tickets are available for purchase at www.cwbfoundation.org.

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