Artists respond to a call from Partners for World Health to get supplies to Ecuadorians recovering from disaster.

A tight-knit group of committed volunteers and supporters of Partners for World Health gathered at the Cumberland Club in Portland last month to sip cocktails and bid on local artwork.

The effort at hand? Raising money to ship a container of much needed medical supplies to Ecuador, parts of which were ravaged by an earthquake in April.

“We are constantly fundraising,” said Tori Lambert, program manager for the South Portland-based nonprofit. “For our event tonight, we decided to reach out to our artist community. This is the kind of generosity that just blows your mind.”

Artwork by the likes of Dietlind Vander Schaaf, Ted Arnold, Paula Ragsdale and the Ant Girls of Maine were displayed next to original pieces of pottery and photographs at the Nov. 10 event.

Guests mingled and admired the art, eager to show their allegiance to a local organization whose reach extends across the globe.

“I’ve traveled all over the world and I’ve seen the need,” said Doug Friedman, board treasurer of Partners for World Health. “This organization puts both sides together incredibly well. It’s just fantastic.”

“We do six medical missions a year,” said Elizabeth McLellan, a retired nurse and the organization’s founder and president. “We take doctors and nurses to do surgery and provide health care. We’ve been to Senegal, Bangladesh, Turkey, Uganda. … We have 12 PWH official university chapters. These students are involved with collecting medical supplies.”

“I went to Senegal with Elizabeth,” said Noelle Cooper, a nurse practitioner student at University of Southern Maine, clearly proud of her experience.

“I’m here because I’m a nurse trying to support this effort,” said Timmi Sellers, a nurse consultant at Portland Center for Assisted Living.

Diane Farren, a retired nurse and old friend of McLellan, attended with her husband, Paul Farren, the volunteer pickup coordinator for Partners for World Health. Ellen Maling of Brunswick was joined by Sandie Roberts of Yarmouth and Malcolm Graham of Falmouth, all volunteers.

“One of the things I like most about Partners for World Health is that it makes a local impact as well as a global impact,” said Elizabeth Klebe, a board member from Falmouth. She was joined by volunteers Chris Tenney of Yarmouth and Joan Renke of Falmouth.

“We have a clear medical impact locally and internationally,” said McLellan. “We have an environmental impact, literally keeping tons of waste out of landfills, and we have a social impact. We have over 85 volunteers. It truly is an awesome organization to be a part of.”

Margaret Logan is a freelance writer who lives in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]


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