Local Charity Executive Director Wins Prestigious University Award
Recognized for establishing sustainable healthcare in Central America
“I am glad I have the privilege to work with such a great group of staff and volunteers that help people in Central America who are less fortunate get access to much needed healthcare.” - Sondra Elizondo
The University of St. Thomas Alumni Association, Minn., has chosen Sondra Elizondo, Director for VIDA Volunteer, for its 2014 Humanitarian Award.
Elizondo, a resident of the Space Coast, joins a distinguished group of alumni who have made the world a better place. Such accomplishments by the recipients include establishing medical clinics in Uganda, starting the cancer Relay for Life program, and establishing a safe haven for homeless young adults.
Elizondo, a co-founder of VIDA Volunteer, said she is humbled to be a part of such a group.
“I never dreamed that I would be recognized for my organization’s efforts in Central America,” said the 1992 graduate. “I am glad I have the privilege to work with such a great group of staff and volunteers that help people in Central America who are less fortunate get access to much needed healthcare.”
While Elizondo spent much of the past decade in Central America, she realized that she needed to be back in the U.S. to coordinate with colleges, universities, students and medical professionals.
“We want to expand the services that we provide to our 70+ communities and I felt the best place for me to do that was here in the U.S.,” the 1992 graduate said. “In the last four years alone, VIDA volunteers have treated 43,448 medical patients, 18,890 dental patients and 21,057 small animals and 15,164 large animals.”
The seeds of VIDA first sprouted while Elizondo was in the Peace Corps, stationed in Cartago, Costa Rica, between 1994 and 1996.
"VIDA lets me express my spirit of giving. I love working with people and animals; I love health care and that’s why I once was a medical social worker at a Level One trauma hospital,” Elizondo said.
VIDA offers pre health professionals, graduate level students, and all professionals an opportunity to collaborate with local physicians in underserved remote areas of Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala. It provides free medical, dental and veterinary care and supports a wide variety of community led initiatives and projects.
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