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Faith leads volunteers to valuable work page 2
Faith-based volunteering can help make the world a better place.

Date published: 10/17/2004


The office of Volunteers for Prosperity is based in the U.S. Agency for International Development. We coordinate Volunteers for Prosperity operations at three cabinet departments: State, Commerce, and Health and Human Services. We report to the White House office of USA Freedom Corps; this office coordinates all federally supported volunteer programs, domestic and international, including the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and Senior Corps.

Ours is not a program or grant-making office. It is a very small coordinating office. To say we are "lean and mean" would be only half-true. We are "lean and compassionate."

Volunteers for Prosperity is building a network of organizations--both nonprofits and businesses--that support international voluntary service. Nonprofits participate either by directly placing and managing skilled volunteers in overseas assignments, or by mobilizing volunteers to serve under the direction of other organizations. Businesses participate by encouraging employees to serve as international volunteers.

For grant-making and program purposes, Volunteers for Prosperity initially is focused on six foreign assistance initiatives: the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Middle East Partnership Initiative, the Digital Freedom Initiative, the Water for the Poor Initiative, the Trade for African Development and Enterprise Initiative, and the Millennium Challenge Corp.

The Volunteers for Prosperity office does not directly award grants; instead, it monitors and facilitates compliance by the grant-making offices with the president's executive order concerning grants for organizations using skilled volunteers.

Individuals and grass-roots charities can make a tremendous impact for a better world. An outstanding example of the model of short-term, flexible volunteer service promoted by Volunteers for Prosperity comes from here in St. Louis.

During the 1980s, a surgeon from St. Louis University Hospital, Dr. Theodore Dubuque, went on a volunteer medical mission to the Sacred Heart Hospital in the village of Milot in Haiti.

His enthusiasm for this endeavor led him to organize a foundation to take ownership and management responsibility for the hospital. This allowed the hospital's founders, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, to return to their primary mission as educators.

The foundation is known by the acronym CRUDEM (for Center for the Rural Development of Milot).

Today the hospital has a capable permanent staff of Haitian physicians and nurses, as well as a constant stream of short-term volunteer health-care professionals.

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