I am about to do a new thing;
Years and counting
Foundation & Faith
When in Antigua, Guatemala, Todd Collier, a then-intern at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, met Franciscan Brother Guillermo, then-Director of Las Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro, a home for the ‘incapacitated and abandoned’. In response Brother Guillermo’s request and in answer to Jesus’ call, Todd returned to Houston, Texas and contacted Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church members Joe and Vera Wiatt. Together, they organized a small surgical mission to operate at Las Obras, the site of a abandoned and ill-equipped former national hospital.
Inspired by the Franciscan brothers and moved by the patients and their families, Todd and the Wiatts incorporated Faith In Practice as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 1994 and began to build what would become Faith In Practice. In 1996, Joe and Vera Wiatt sold their two hardware stores to dedicate 100% of their time to Faith In Practice, continuing to manage the growing mission from their back bedroom.
At a crucial moment in the life of the mission in 1999, the fledgling board split on whether the mission would remain a Christian non-profit. By the difference of one vote, and resignation of nearly half the board, Faith In Practice remained Christian, a decision that has seen it through every crisis across the years.
With this trust and faith, the Wiatts continued to expand the mission to include not only surgical but medical clinic teams to respond to the great need.
Growth & Expansion
Under the Wiatts’ dedicated leadership, supported by their strong sense of call, Faith In Practice flourished. Over the next several years, they developed the surgical program at Las Obras, assisting the nascent hospital in developing processes, policies, and procedures. Working closely with the Obras, they negotiated with local authorities and built the patient guest house, the Casa de Fe, in 2003, and oversaw its management. Together with Dr. Peter and Mrs. Nancy Thompson they launched the first cervical cancer screening and treatment program in Guatemala. They also managed and raised funds to expand, renovate, and equip five operating rooms as Las Obras, where the first teams served in the new OR’s in 2006. In 2007, Vera and Joe also managed and renovated operating rooms at Hopitalito Corpus Christi in Patzun and organized and financed the building of a medical clinic in the isolated community of Sarstun.
The Wiatts’ were also committed to ensuring that the mission continue beyond them. Therefore, they increased their focus on building a committed and dynamic board of directors, with an eye toward handing over the reins of leadership.
By 2006, Faith In Practice’s cash revenue was $1.65 million leveraging an additional $3.2 million in in-kind services and supplies, medicines, and medical devices. More than 600 U.S. volunteers were serving more than 13,000 patients, hailing from 33 states.
Expansion & Structure
After an extensive search, the Board of Directors and the Wiatts welcomed Rev. Linda L. McCarty as Faith In Practice’s new leader in 2007. Also motivated by a strong sense of call, Linda, an attorney and Presbyterian minister, committed to remain true to the spirit that motivated the first Faith In Practice volunteers, while continuing to grow the mission. Throughout these years of growth, Faith In Practice remained committed to working beside local Guatemalans, strengthening ties and building community.
The next several years saw increased structure and infrastructure designed to ensure that Faith In Practice would continue to develop systematically and strategically. Building upon the legacy of the Wiatts, Faith In Practice committed to expanding the provision of care through an extensive network consisting of partner hospitals, Guatemalan volunteers from rural communities, rural clinics, and local staff. This period included the formalization of the organization to increase efficiencies and effective delivery of care, the established of a Quality of Care Committee, setting practice parameters and applying risk management principles, formalizing and growing the Guatemalan volunteer program designed to reach the patients in the greatest need, the establishment of the Traditional Birth Attendant training program, and investing in infrastructure to provide as much support to the volunteers and patients as possible.
By 2013, Faith In Practice’s cash revenue was $3 million leveraging an additional $8 million in in-kind services and supplies, medicines, and medical devices serving more than 20,000 patients through approximately 1000 US volunteers coming from every state in the Union.
Sustainability & Partnership Investment
This period began with a major expansion and renovation of Hilario Galindo Hospital which doubled the size of the hospital and established it as a regional health center. This period also launched initiatives toward establishing corporate partnerships to streamline the provision of medical supplies, resources and medical devices, an extensive investment in warehousing and supply chain management to most efficiently utilize and account for the significant assets entrusted to Faith In Practice, and an infrastructure that would allow the most efficient and effective provision of care to honor patient, volunteer, and donor alike.
By 2020, Faith In Practice’s cash revenue was budgeted to be $5 million leveraging an additional $15 million in in-kind services and supplies, medicines, and medical devices. More than 1,500 U.S. volunteers and more than 1,000 Guatemalan volunteers were serving more than 30,000 patients through a sophisticated and integrated system of care.
By early 2020, Faith In Practice was living into the vision of integrated and sustainable care through a network of relationships and partnerships both in Guatemala and the U.S.
Faith & the Future
The pandemic resulted in crisis but also an opportunity. With volunteer teams unable to travel to Guatemala for fourteen months and the need rising, Faith In Practice developed a series of programs committed to serving even in those difficult days. These programs included telemedicine, delivery of food and medicine, provision of PPE, mobility clinic delivery to the most vulnerable, an expansion of the reliance upon the Guatemalan volunteer network.
Throughout the pandemic, Faith In Practice was committed to more than surviving but rather finding ways to enhance and further streamline programming into the future. As such, leveraging technology and continuing to further develop the delivery of healthcare through our network to enhance and complement the work of our U.S. volunteer providers, Faith In Practice is on the threshold of a new beginning.