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Jun 1, 2016

Learning by Giving - What I Learned

Paige Preston spent a semester researching and advocating for Clínica Verde. Here's what she learned.

You could say that it might be a risky move to give a bunch of college students $10,000. Risky though it may be, this past semester at the University of Southern California, I was in a class tasked with distributing $10,000 to a nonprofit organization, or two, of our choosing. Sitting in the first day of class, all I could think about was how much I wanted Clínica Verde to be a contender for the grant funds. I have always believed in the work that Clínica Verde does, but I knew that my simple belief would not be enough to persuade a class to give, and certainly would not be enough to get me anywhere close to an A on deliverable assignments. I had to do my research—delve into tax forms, critically examine the website, and sift through all information presented via third parties on the web. During this due diligence I would have to go back to my class and report my findings, as well. For me, this process was a breeze. Not only was information about Clínica Verde up-to-date and easy to find, but it was often presented in a very appealing fashion as well. While a few others had similar experiences, others came face-to-face with the inefficiencies, lack of communication, or bureaucracy that some view as a hallmark of the nonprofit sector. When standing in front of the class, the “advocates” for these organizations blatantly informed us not to consider donating to them a second longer.

After much research came the class-wide deliberation—it was time to decide how to divide up the $10,000. It was not totally a free-for-all process. To begin we had to decide upon a class mission statement, evaluation metrics, and giving guidelines. After a semester analyzing the social sector, we had a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t. For this reason, coming up with our mission statement was the easy part, Empowering individuals within their communities through sustainable solutions. A fairly broad statement to be sure, but we further narrowed it down by aiming to fund organizations that focus empowerment using skill-building or educational programs. My class felt that a nonprofit that fit this description would truly be doing the best kind of work in the world. Although some people tried making creative leaps to get the organizations they were advocating for to meet these criteria, this was an easy sell for Clínica Verde. After all, empowerment, sustainability, and education are all central tenets of its work. When giving the grant pitch to the class, it wasn’t difficult to show how each and every individual Clínica Verde serves can have a profound ripple effect across the larger community.

Throughout this process I discovered something valuable about Clínica Verde—that it truly is doing the right things in the right way to make a global impact. It is transparent, it is sustainable, it is redefining an industry, it is creating change.

Now, I am sad to say that despite its perfect candidacy for the class grant, in the end Clínica Verde was not selected as a recipient. The class decided to keep the funds more local, and gave to two excellent organizations in the LA area that numerous students in the class had prior connections to. While I understand why my peers wanted to give to a nonprofit in our own backyard, I nevertheless disagree with their choice for a very simple reason. While not in LA or Southern California or the US, Clínica Verde has the potential to scale. It is an organization that could and should be anywhere and everywhere. Throughout this process I discovered something valuable about Clínica Verde—that it truly is doing the right things in the right way to make a global impact. It is transparent, it is sustainable, it is redefining an industry, it is creating change.

 My failure is proof of the greatest thing Clínica Verde is in need of. It needs others to see how Clínica Verde belongs in each of our own backyards, and not just in some far off town in Nicaragua. In this way, each and every one of us who believes in Clínica Verde has an obligation. It is our job to advocate, challenge others to do the research, find a personal connection, share it, champion it, and push those around us to get involved and interested. We need to get others to feel that direct connection that becomes the deciding factor between choosing to donate or not. Let’s create our own ripple effect and get a truly worthy nonprofit the $10,000 it deserves and more. I say with the fullest confidence that Clínica Verde truly is the best type of force for good. As an organization, Clínica Verde, beyond doubt, gets an A from this class assignment (even if I don’t).

 Paige Preston is finishing her junior year at USC, majoring in political economy.

Clinica Verde team members in Nicaragua.
Clinica Verde team members in Nicaragua.
Mar 8, 2016

Promoting our Teen Peer Counselors

First place winner Jennifer
First place winner Jennifer

In its commitment to educate and inform teens about sexual and reproductive health at Clínica Verde, our team held a contest among members last month to reward not only their knowledge but also their commitment and work with peers in the community. Our first place winner was teen peer counselor Jennifer with 100 points, followed by second place winner Miurel with 99.4 points, and third place winner Eliecer with 98.7 points.

"I'm so happy to have won, thanks to my efforts to study the program and give educational talks and advice to peers in the community," said Jennifer, with tears of joy in her eyes. She said the prize of $50 will go to help her family, who are very poor. Each of the winners come from rural communities and families of very few resources, and the program's acknowledgement is a great source of pride.

We are so proud of our teens!

At Clinica Verde the counseling center and prevention work with adolescents is a priority. We train adolescents in the community and provide them with useful tools for making responsible decisions in their lives, but above all we love to see their efforts to work with other teens in the community. Each step forward redoubles our commitment to make this center a model in the community. 

Clinica Verde and TeenSmart partner in this program thanks to the sponsorship of the Strachan Foundation. Our Counseling Center for Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health aims to contribute to improving living conditions for the adolescents, young people and their families, through the promotion of sexual and reproductive health, with a focus on life skills and personal development that supports behavioral changes encouraging a healthy life.

As a result of this program:

• 50 young people have been trained in counseling skills and techniques
• The teens have given 97 education talks with 2,247 participants in 2015
• 78 counseling sessions have been provided by the adolescents in the first quarter of 2016

We look forward to seeing this program grow and thrive with your support!

Our TeenSmart winners and team leaders
Our TeenSmart winners and team leaders
Dec 10, 2015

One Volunteer's Experience: Meet Jessica ...

Jessie Wheeler + students from CV's teen program
Jessie Wheeler + students from CV's teen program

One of the great benefits of working at Clinica Verde is that it introduces us to so many generous and wonderful people who are interested in helping out. Jessica Wheeler is one of those special people. We first connected with her after she made an online donation in 2009, when Clinica Verde was just getting started. She wrote then: “The mission of Clinica Verde rings true on so many different levels and my contribution is the least I could do.” Jessica stayed in touch over the years as we brought the vision of Clinica Verde to life. She is now a graduate student at Columbia University in New York City getting her degree as a Nurse Practitioner, specializing in psychiatry. She also works at a startup called FRND, which is like an Uber for RN’s, bringing on-demand nursing care to people’s homes.

This past summer – 6 years after she first reached out – Jessica and her husband Tim volunteered for 5 weeks at Clinica Verde. We asked Jessie to briefly share her experience.

What drew you to working at Clinica Verde?
As an avid surfer, I have visited (and loved!) Nicaragua for over a decade. A few years ago a fellow traveller mentioned the clinic to me, saying they knew someone from California who was starting a clinic for women in the mountains (I wish I could remember who this person was!). In any event, Clinica Verde was just a concept at this point, but I started donating small sums of money for the building of the clinic. When I became a registered nurse, I wanted to give something back to Nicaragua. I thought spending some time working at Clinica Verde would be a good way to do this! In addition, I’m very interested in global health and I knew CV would give me an education that I could never find in a classroom.

What was the most challenging thing about your experience at Clinica Verde?
The language barrier. I am “conversational” in Spanish but did not have enough of a grasp on the language to understand all of the small interactions that occur between doctor and patient.

What was the most uplifting experience?
Oh wow. I’m not sure. All of it? I suppose the most specifically uplifting experience was the TeenSmart Program and our day discussing contraception. I take contraception very seriously and have been a cheerleader for family planning for quite some time! I thoroughly enjoyed imparting this information to the teens in the program. Parts of it seemed to really resonate with them!

Is there one story/patient who really stuck with you? 
I worked with one mother who had a very sick infant. The infant was not feeding properly, losing weight, and spiked a fever. Ultimately this baby needed to be in the ER and have IV fluids, but the process of helping the mother through it was very rewarding. The mother was nervous but appreciative of the care we provided.

We’re so grateful to have Jessica as a part of our Clinica Verde family!

• • •

This past year, we've served over 10,000 patients at Clinica Verde, providing not just clinical care and medical consults, but education talks on nutrition, hygiene, prenatal care and more. We're particularly excited and grateful for our TeenSmart program, which trains teen peer counselors in sexual reproductive health, and our Prenatal Nutrition Program, which provides young mothers a support network and education on the stages of fetal development, the importance of diet and nutrition, and well baby care.

We couldn't have done it without you.

We want to wish all of our awesome donors and volunteers a joy-filled holiday season. You are helping to make a difference in the world through your kindness and compassion. 

With love and gratitude,


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