Yesterday was our first in-person event in three years – A Bridge to Change. Thanks to all of you, it was a huge success.
We had a great turnout. Everyone had a wonderful experience sharing delicioso food from Casa Zoraya, amazing Pisco sours from Una Mas Bartending (and Caravedo Pisco), pacific northwest wine pours from the venerable Elk Cove Vineyards, the best beer on the planet from Gigantic Brewing, and an enchanting MC for the event in HBI Board Member Benjamin Grass.
Even if you were not able to attend the event, we wanted to share a few of the highlights. Posted below is an excerpt from the words shared by HBI’s Executive Director, Wayne Centrone, during the event. We look forward to seeing you in 2023! Thank you for all your support . . . and remember, #BetheBridge
Hello, everyone, and welcome. Thanks for being here. A very special thank you to our Volunteers, Board of Directors, staff and all of you – the family of HBI. For those in the room who do not know me, my name is Wayne Centrone, and I am the Executive Director of Health Bridges International (HBI).
Wow, it’s been three years since we have all been together and – it’s not just that it’s been three years, but it’s been a unique and crazy challenging three years for all of us here and I’ve been thinking a lot about where to begin.
This work, the work of our organization has been a beautiful and adventurous road of learning, growth, adaptation, and success. It has included all of you, our incredible donors, and supporters, our talented and dedicated HBI team and hundreds of healthcare workers and partners with whom we carry out our work in Perú and South America.
As I reflect on HBI’s evolution over the past 20-plus years, our work has taken us from direct health services delivery to now being in a position where we are meaningfully impacting the long-term care to thousands of children worldwide. Yes…worldwide. Not just in Perú. This afternoon, I am excited to share HBI’s evolving story because there is a lot to share!
Before we do that, let’s try something new! I’d like you to join me in a brief participatory activity. I promise it won’t be hard and you won’t need to put down your drinks.
I’d like you to think about why you’ve taken time from your busy lives to spend this afternoon with HBI? Take a moment and ask yourself what is it that has brought you here, to HBI’s event?
Now I’m going to ask you to turn to the person on your left, and maybe also on your right and share with each other what is it that has brought you here? I’m going to walk around and listen in. I’m curious about your responses!
So, take a moment to reflect – and have a chat with your neighbor and I will call you back in a few minutes.
I heard many varied/different/mixed responses to the question of Why am I here, at an HBI event?
Many of you will have different understandings of “Who is HBI”? And you know what, they are all correct, in some way.
This afternoon, we want to take you on the journey that we have been on, and the focus of our vision and purpose which is that we envision a world where… every child has access to health, hope, home, and purpose.
This afternoon we will share how your support changes lives and reshapes futures; and we invite you to learn just how important your support is in the lives of thousands of children and healthcare workers.
When we started Health Bridges, we had a simple idea. Our vision was this – our conviction that building bridges between resources and needs – changes the playing field. It creates a “sum of all parts” is greater than the whole solution.
In our first decade of work – we put our efforts into building bridges around health care challenges. We mobilized short-term medical and dental outreach clinics, and we provided care to thousands of children. This important work helped us learn a great deal about building partnerships, working in collaboration, and understanding the unique cultural, linguistic, and social context of community-based work in Perú. This work prepared us to quickly adapt and respond to continuously changing needs and today, this has become an even more relevant skillset as there is increased urgency to be nimble and effective in the wake of local and global changes and crises.
You know those life defining moments that just kind of get stuck in your head, almost like someone snuck a picture into your hard drive? Well – here is one of those crystalizing –– memories for me. Early on, when we still ran the Team Perú outreach trips, we brought groups of volunteers to help with our schools-based outreach project.
One afternoon we took the group to a large market in Lima where you can buy just about anything. It was known as a black market, not because the items were illegal, but mainly because they were brought into the country without paying taxes; and as you can imagine, the prices were much lower.
I was standing outside the market with one of the volunteers when I noticed a woman with her young child walking down the street. She was asking people for money and telling her story of living without a husband and struggling to feed herself and her children. She was begging.
I had seen this exact scenario countless times. But this time, something felt different. There was a crushing quality to knowing the solutions this family needed to stay together, to grow, to thrive – they did not fully exist. Something deep inside of me said, “I need to do something. We must help create a change.”
After talking with the woman, and offering her some money, I walked back over to the volunteer, a person who is an excellent friend of mine who happens to be here right now; and I said, “[my life goal] is to make sure no child is ever in a situation like that again.”
At the time, I wasn’t fully sure what I meant by that statement, but it has impacted my life and it has been a catalyst for my work and purpose ever since.
That memory has been a centering/grounding influence that has driven me and our team to shift Health Bridges from an organization that built bridges of support through our four pillars of training, connecting, consulting, and serving – into an organization that seeks to radically reinvent child supportive services (child empowerment services) in Perú . . . and later, the whole world. Let me say that again.
HBI’s progressive work means that we have cracked the code and we have transformed into an organization that seeks to radically reinvent child supportive services in Perú AND we want to take our proven models and practices and support other organizations to champion change for children and mothers.
How did we crack the code? For over two decades, with your support, HBI has become a trusted advisor and partner with governmental agencies like the Peruvian National Institute of Mental Health and professional associations like the Peruvian College of Nurses and the Midwives and well-respected multinational organizations like Caritas – the branch of the Vatican and Catholic Church involved in social outreach around the world.
Our team is embedded, and we use our influence and earned trust to drive/execute solutions that work and improve the lives of children, mothers, and healthcare workers.
Health Bridges International is a nonprofit organization that seeks to create a stable home environment for children in Perú who live without it. We aim to provide vulnerable youth with a life built on health, hope, home, and purpose by building with local champions evidence-based models that protect and empower these children.
For over 20 years, we have partnered with academic institutions (such as Yale, Thomas Jefferson University, St. Olaf College, Linfield University, Universidad Catolica Santa Maria, LaSalle University, and subject matter experts and academics from non-governmental, governmental, and private sector partners to invest in programs and projects that build scientifically rigorous approaches to empowering child welfare providers.
Our capabilities focus on the following areas: teaching institutional care takers, influencing government policy, and training other organizations in evidence-based practices and tools to care for formerly homeless, abandoned, and marginalized children.
HBI’s Centers of Excellence, such as, Casa Girasoles, the care homes for abandoned and runaway boys that we operate in the Sacred Valley of Cusco and the city of Ica – are model community-driven programs that deliver standardized frameworks for child welfare providers like NGOs, government agencies, educational institutions, and youth organizations. By incubating best practices, the Centers promote evidence-based models that help children and families become self-advocates, strengthen child support service providers, and uplift the entire community. We are championing children and the communities that care for them.
To take this work to the next level, we need your help. We need you to invest in us. When you make that investment, in a small, effective, and nimble NGO operating on $750,000 per year, serving the needs of some of the most marginalized children in Latin America, you help us build a pathway for long-term, sustainable change.
We don’t take your investment lightly. We are committed to transparency to all our donors and to full accountability. We pledge to show you how all your support is used. We continuously seek to make the most of every dollar you so generously provide. One way we do that is to dedicate over 92% of all monies we receive directly into programs.
What’s our end goal? Well, I guess it is to make our work obsolete. We envision a day when training teams will run around Latin America, building networks, or learning communities to advance lifesaving newborn resuscitation.
We look forward to the day our efforts focus on supporting organizations worldwide to build their own Centers of Excellence. We want to be the behind-the-scenes champions who are helping child-welfare champions, champion change. We envision a world where every child has access to the life they deserve. A life of health, hope, home, and purpose.
So, I ask you to join us in our mission.
Will you Be the Bridge?
Thank you so much for being here. It is a true delight to be in your presence.