How We Got Started
The concept for this foundation was conceived by the successful recovery of Paulette, a teenager from Costa Rica, who with help from a network of caring individuals, was transformed from a dying bedridden teenager to a happy and productive young, working adult.
Here briefly is her story:
Paulette was a 16 year old girl, who had survived a near fatal illness, staphylococcal purpura fulminans. Her mother was told her daughter probably had less than 72 hours to live. Surprisingly, she beat those odds and survived, but after nine months in a hospital, she returned home with open wounds on 90% of her body.
Solangie Zuniga and James Stutz found her bedridden for nearly a year and a half, with multiple infected, open, non-healing wounds; frail and weak, unable to get out of bed without being carried by her mother. She was a survivor! Initially, Solangie and James helped the family with immediate needs such as providing nutrition, diapers, and dressings. They fixed their leaking roof, provided bedding, and eventually a washing machine to clean her sheets regularly. Realizing more care was necessary, they asked for help from friends in Costa Rica and the US. Help was provided by a variety of sources. Eventually, through a network of strangers, arrangements were made to fly her by a donated private jet to the Cincinnati Shriner's Hospital for medical care. Almost immediately, doctors found it necessary to amputate both of her legs below the knees, due to infection. However, after several surgeries to heal the open wounds and extensive physical therapy, she returned home with her wounds healed and walking on her new prosthetic legs! During this year of miraculous healing, she lived with and was cared for by Mary Dickey and her family, their friends, as well as the entire Batesville community.
Today, Paulette lives the life of a normal, happy teenager as she works and goes to school. Amazing things happen when even a few people get involved.
You can read more about Paulette at:
The Batesville Herald Tribune
Rae Schnuth, PhD is the volunteer Chair of ECI’s Board of Directors. Dr. Schnuth serves as an Assistant Dean for College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University. Her academic appointment is in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology as Associate Professor. She is currently refining the curriculum for a unique program for third and fourth year medical students, Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved/Vulnerable, which is comprised of three major components: rural health care, urban health care and international health care. She yearly brings medical students to Costa Rica to emphasize the importance of cultural sensitivity for health care delivery in a global context. During these trips, the groups also provide health care for underserved/vulnerable individuals. In 2007, Dr. Schnuth was the recipient of an international award, “Citizen of the World-Academic Award,” presented by the International Health of Central America Institute (IHCAI). This award honored Dr. Schnuth for her humanitarian efforts in Costa Rica, her support of various efforts for care of poor children in Central America, and her development of an international curricular program for medical students and residents. She has been a foster mom since 2000 in Michigan.
Rick Wakamiya, MD, is the volunteer Vice Chair of ECI’s Board of Directors. Dr. Wakamiya is a practicing emergency physician at Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento, California. He is on the clinical faculty at UC Davis teaching Emergency Medicine residents, and his current project is the implementation of an Emergency Department computerized charting and computer order entry system. He has been the medical director of the Emergency Department and has been involved in various hospital, local community, and regional medical committees. His expertise is in medical quality, credentialing, EMS and resident physician education. He is also an owner of a medical supply company, Care Medical and Surgical Supplies, which has helped supply the Bayanihan Clinic, a medical student run free clinic in downtown Sacramento.
Mary Dickey is a volunteer director at ECI. Ms. Dickey received her degree in International Management from Butler University in 1993. Living in Quito, Ecuador in the late 1980’s, Mary became fluent in Spanish, which led to a career heavily focused in Latin America. Ms. Dickey has held various positions in the international arena. Her most recent posts include a position as International Sales Representative for the Hill-Rom Company in Batesville, IN, and she currently works as a Business Development Manager for Steo-Medical, exporters of medical equipment to South & Central America and the Caribbean. Ms. Dickey was instrumental in coordinating the transport of Everyone’s Child International’s first patient, Paulette, to the US for treatment. She and her family also serve as Paulette’s host family during her one-year stay in the US. They also served as the host family for a three year old burn patient from Iraq and his mother.
Rhonda Savage, MPH, is the volunteer secretary of ECI. Ms. Savage served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer providing community health education for two years in Nepal. She was also a Peace Corps contractor and trained new health volunteers to prepare for their jobs in the health sector. Ms. Savage was hired by Habitat for Humanity, Intl, where she traveled globally to provide training services. She also organized and led volunteer mission trips to build houses in Nepal. Ms. Savage operated an import company in which she worked with village-based income-generation programs and provided them with a U.S. market for goods. She was employed by International Medical Corps, Los Angeles, where she had roles in human resources, training, and program management to provide aid to refugees and internally displaced persons living in countries affected by war or natural disaster. Ms. Savage now works with Foster Care Select, where she provides therapeutic support to foster children.
Lisa Tuveson, MEd, is a volunteer Director for ECI. Mrs. Tuveson has a passion for children who are challenged. In 1985 she began volunteering her time working with special needs children at New Horizons Rehabilitation Center in Batesville, Indiana. The joy she found when working with the children led her to pursue a career in Special Education. After graduating from Colgate University, she earned a dual Master’s Degree in Moderate Special Needs and Early Childhood Education from Boston College. Mrs. Tuveson taught special education to children from preschool age to third grade. She currently spends her time at home with her six children. In her free time Mrs. Tuveson volunteers at church, school, and sport related activities. She is very excited about working with Everyone’s Child International.
Stephen Denas is a volunteer Director of ECI. Mr. Denas graduated from the University of Miami (FL) with A BS in Biology and Chemistry. After spending seven years in Pulmonary Reseacrh at Mt Sinai Medical Center (Miami Beach, FL) he ventured off to 15 years in medical diagnostic sales. After engaging corporate America and spending 15 years in a plane, he decided to completely change career directions and open his own Graphic and Web Design company: Psiborg Productions, located in Hollywood, FL. Stephen is responsible for the graphics and web production of Everyone’s Child International.
Medical Advisory Member
Dr. Dele Davies is Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University. He received his medical degree and a Masters Degree in Epidemiology from the University of Toronto in Canada. He obtained specialty training in Pediatrics and subspecialty training in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He also holds a Masters of Science Degree in Health Care Management from the Harvard School of Public Health. Prior to being hired at Michigan State University, Dr. Davies was on Faculty at the University of Toronto and the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada where he was Chair of the Child Health Research Group and Director of the Child Health Research Unit at Alberta Children’s Hospital. Dr. Davies is internationally renowned for his population based research on perinatal group B streptococcal infections and invasive group A streptococcal and related infections. He has over 130 publications in peer-reviewed journals in addition to numerous book chapters, review articles and proceedings of presentations at meetings. He is also the editor of a recent book on Child and Adolescent Obesity. He has received numerous prestigious awards for his research, teaching and other contributions during his career, including twice being awarded the Mo-Watanabe Distinguished Faculty Award for all round excellence at the University of Calgary. In addition to the multiple traditional administrative duties of Department Chair at Michigan State University, Dr. Davies continues to hold active research grants, he sees patients and he serves on numerous state and national advisory boards. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs (AMSPDC). Dr Davies has fostered the development of University and Community wide interdisciplinary collaborative networks including Childhood Obesity and is the founding chair of the MSU Children's Health Initiative which benefits children of Mid-Michigan. Born in Nigeria, Dr. Davies has also volunteered on medical missions or lectured in several countries including Ecuador, Belize, India, Nepal, Laos, Belgium, Spain and England and has travelled extensively through the US, Europe and South East Asia.