by Zach Schwenk
Zach was involved with the IU Timmy student chapter during his time at IU and also served as the first Timmy Nonprofit Management Fellow during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. He recently traveled with Timmy to Quito, Ecuador on our first ever Timmy Alumni trip in July 2014. This blog highlights some of his thoughts and memories of traveling with Timmy, both as a student and as an alumni.
Some months ago, I awoke to an email that was so unexpected I was almost certain I was still dreaming- I had been offered a spot on a Timmy “Alumni Trip” to Quito. After 3 years of involvement at Indiana University, with trips to Ecuador and Guatemala and a year on our chapter’s board, and then becoming the first Timmy Fellow, I had thought my Timmy trips were behind me. You see, along with many other Timmy volunteers, I’m not going to be a nurse, doctor, or pharmacist (education is my calling). And I am not engaged or married to someone who is a medical professional (applications accepted on a rolling basis). So, I assumed my trip-going was just a supremely pleasant memory of times past.
I could not have been more excited! I called my buddies, my family, and the Indy Timmy team to tell them I was already looking forward to it. My enthusiasm oozed as I anticipated another “one of the best weeks of my life” experience to where I had first traveled with Timmy. But what exactly to expect? It had been four years since my last trip and three since I had worked there. On my other trips, I had worked with the other members for at least six months before we got on a plane. Who would make up the team? Would I go to the same communities? Timmy’s grown so much.Would I still recognize it?
Like a lot of friends, Timmy and I used to hang out a lot, but recently it has been mostly emails and Facebook updates (thanks internet!). Getting to hang out a few weeks ago was a treat. And like my best friends, seeing how Timmy has grown and progressed since we last met was an absolute joy. We saw 565 patients in our clinics, run by tremendous volunteers. We are now working with medical students from Ecuador. Timmycare is awesome. I could go on about the growth made, but I would like to leave you with what struck me the most.
Having been around Timmy for so long at different levels, I am keenly aware that its mission requires a lot. After this last trip, I am renewed in my belief that every bit is important. So let me say thanks. To the medical volunteers, thank you for your skills. To the student chapters past and present, thank you for your donations drives, fundraisers, and regular contributions that allow Timmy to provide its continuum of care. To Dr. Chuck, thank you for providing the spark that lit the fire for global health in us Timmy Kids’ hearts. To the Board and Staff, thank you for constantly pushing Timmy’s scope and depth. To our Medicine Women, you are rock stars. To anybody that has ever donated their time or money to support Timmy’s efforts, thank you for the goods that have propelled Timmy forward. To anybody that has ever listened to our stories (I’m talking to you!), thank you for assuring us that Timmy’s work and mission are important.
To Timmy Global Health, thank you for honing my commitment to a life of service, for the good work you do, for lifelong friendships, and for three of the best weeks of my life I’ve spent volunteering on Timmy trips! I am truly grateful and look forward to our next rendezvous.