Among the team that traveled to Metropolitan Hospital, Guatemala City, Guatemala was Chuck Scheetz, a local businessman and Boardman High School class of 1974 graduate. He accompanied Mission of Love founder Kathy Price of Austintown along with a team of 10 volunteers who were on a medical mission to bring hope to suffering children.
“I first met Kathy (Price) when she was looking for used medical equipment over 20 years ago,” Scheetz said. “Since then I have been on three trips.”
Scheetz has been in the medical field for 31 years, of which the past 17 were in his own medical supply business called Source Products, which he runs along with his brother, Dr. Richard Scheetz of Columbus.
On Oct. 7, the team left Ohio and headed to the jungles of Guatemala. After landing at a local airport, the team took a long ride to get to the hospital where 30 families awaited an opportunity to change their children's lives for the better.
“Some had traveled eight hours by bus to get there,” Scheetz said.
Over that weekend, a medical team that included several local surgeons and Scheetz’ brother, looked over the children and assessed what could be done. As Monday rolled around, the surgical teams began their work and by week’s end, 27 children had their cleft lip and cleft palates repaired. One young girl named Catherine also underwent surgery to separate her webbed fingers.
The medical team took brief breaks during the day, but basically worked from sun up to sundown. The time went fast, they said, and before anyone knew it, Friday (Oct. 14) arrived and it was time to return home.
"It was all like a blur,” Scheetz said. “Each day started at 7 a.m. and ended at 7 p.m. at the hospital.”
Scheetz said when they first arrived, he recalled 30 families with children awaiting the Mission of Love team.
“I had to go into a back room and cry for 10 minutes,” Scheetz admitted.
Like others on the trip, seeing what the children have to go through was very touching. Scheetz took the brief moment, pulled himself together and got focused on the mission.
When Scheetz returned home, he had a new-found appreciation for just what Mission of Love is all about.
“Mission of Love is the most under-publicized nonprofit around,” he said. People have no idea what Kathy does. She has the drive of 10 people and if it wasn’t for her, there would be no Mission of Love.”
He said when so many nonprofits have huge overhead and salaries to pay, every dime Mission of Love receives goes into the trips. No one, not even Kathy, gets a penny of the donations. On the trips, everyone pays their own way and no one gets a dime.
“That is impressive,” Scheetz said. “As for going on more trips, I definitely will.”
Scheetz has been on three trips with his recent experience included. The prior two trips were to Pine Ridge, S.D., to help the Native Americans on the reservation who are suffering with 85-percent unemployment and horrid living conditions. Scheetz said he is looking forward to returning to Pine Ridge to help any way he can.
As for Guatemala, Price is already planning the next trip in 2012.
“Mission of Love will send an airlift of medical supplies and equipment to Metropolitan Hospital early in 2012,” Price said. “That airlift will also have the supplies to build a children’s hospice in Tec Pan, Guatemala. The name of the hospital will be Way-bi, which means House of Dreams.”
Price said there are also many more cleft palate surgeries to be performed as she tries to get to all the children in need.
Scheetz, in the meantime, has been instrumental in putting together the Nov. 4 Mission of Love auction at Avion on the Water in Boardman. The fundraiser will highlight the past year’s missions and will showcase 2012 and the work that will continue with volunteers like Scheetz and others. All of the proceeds from the event will go towards future mission trip supplies and materials.
For information on the Mission of Love, visit www.missionoflove.org.
Photo special to the Town Crier
Posing in the Metropolitan Hospital, Guatemala City, Guatemala, are Chuck Scheetz of North Lima and Kathy Price from Austintown with young Catherine, a Mayan girl who underwent two surgeries to correct a cleft palate and webbed fingers. The trip was the latest Mission of Love mission to help children that are suffering in the poorest regions of South America.