Tenacity, Dedication and Determination – Dr. Patricia Wolff honored with the Daily Points of Light Award
“MFK’s work to save the lives of Haiti’s most vulnerable population honored”
It was 25 years ago this week that former president George H. W. Bush conferred the very first Daily Point of Light Award. To commemorate the silver anniversary of this award program, Points of Light invites you to meet Dr. Patricia Wolff, today’s Daily Point of Light honoree.
From his first day in office, President Bush devoted very special attention to voluntary community service as a means of helping solve some of America’s most serious social problems. He was the first president in history to establish a White House office exclusively charged with this work, and none of his predecessors had engaged the “bully pulpit” so fully on the subject.
His leadership resulted in the creation of the Points of Light Foundation, the Commission on National and Community Service, and the National Center for Community Risk Management and Insurance, as well as the recognition of thousands of volunteers whose stories were shared widely as examples to others. Between 1989 and 1993, the Points of Light movement became a defining mission of the Bush administration.
On November 24, 2014, Dr. Patricia B. Wolff became a Daily Point of Light awardee.
Dr. Patricia B. Wolff has been providing medical care in Haiti to those in need for more than 25 years. But Dr. Patricia Wolff kept running into the same issue with the kids she was treating there: they were so chronically malnourished that they kept getting sick. “It was like spitting into the ocean because they couldn’t fight off illness,” she recalls.
In 2003, Dr. Wolff, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Washington University’s School of Medicine, founded Meds & Food for Kids in response to her frustration of watching malnourished Haitian children needlessly die. After visiting RUTF pioneer and Washington University colleague Dr. Mark Manary in Malawi, Dr. Wolff was inspired to transfer the best-practice therapy of RUTF to Haiti in 2003. In 2012 MFK opened a state-of-the-art factory in Cap Haitien, Haiti that employs over 40 Haitian workers and has the capability to produce enough Medika Mamba each year to save the lives of 80,000 children.
“It feels good to be a rescuer,” says Dr. Wolff. “But that is just the beginning. We’re working to create jobs and transfer skills so, in the future Haitian people won’t need to be rescued.”
Driven by the goal to end malnutrition in Haiti, for nearly ten years, Dr. Wolff has divided her time between St. Louis and Haiti, typically spending three weeks of every six weeks in Cap Haitien. She even gave up her thriving St. Louis practice to dedicate more time to this effort.
This recognition comes on the heels of a recent announcement by National Geographic that 52% of Haitians are hungry, making Haiti the hungriest country in the world.
Dr. Wolff explains “You stay long enough, you see the progress being made. Haiti is more advanced today than when I first began volunteering there. Malnutrition has been cut in half. There are better roads. More kids are in school. More people have clean water. A middle class has begun to emerge. The work MFK is doing is changing lives in Haiti and beyond. But we also know there is still much to be done”
Dr. Wolf remains laser-focused on the work she started in Haiti more than 25 years ago. Her non-profit, Meds & Food for Kids, located in Cap Haitien, Haiti, is dedicated to treating malnutrition with a multi-pronged approach that includes treatment, jobs, training and agriculture.
“It needs to be done,” Dr. Wolff says. “Somebody needs to do it. There should be a line of people waiting to replace me or begin their own social enterprise because Haiti is a place where a huge amount of change can be effected in the next 25 years.”
For more information about Meds & Food for Kids, visit us online at www.mfkhaiti.org.
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