Volunteer Spotlight: Lori Wedeking

Volunteer Spotlight: Lori Wedeking

During her professional career, Lori Wedeking worked for decades at the Minnesota Department of Health, and as a teacher at Winona State and Metro State’s nursing colleges. More recently she’s been a stalwart Mano a Mano volunteer, undertaking research on Bolivian health issues, but also taking up other necessary tasks, such as sorting medical supplies and staffing the inventory table when shipping containers get loaded. Here’s why she finds her volunteer work so important. 

Lori Wedeking, in the Mano a Mano Warehouse in St. Paul, MN

Lori Wedeking, in the Mano a Mano Warehouse in St. Paul, MN

How did you get started with Mano a Mano?

It was 2003 or 2004. I heard about Mano a Mano at church. For many years I helped out by sorting medical supplies on Friday afternoons.

Eventually I dropped out of that because the adults weren’t there any more. It was university students. And I thought, every day I was with students. It wasn’t that much of a change for me. After I retired I found out that Mano a Mano needed somebody to do research. I met with [Mano a Mano co-founder] Joan Velasquez and she gave me many questions to write papers about. Soil, climate change. Things like that. After the move to Pierce Butler I started to work again on Soup and Sort days. And then last year I took a 1,500 paper donor list and digitized the information for them.

Now I’m back to writing research papers again for Joan. Now I’m working on a paper about infectious diseases in the Department of Beni. It’s about leishmaniasis, malaria, yellow fever, TB, and how they effect particularly the people who live in Beni.

Why do you find the work satisfying?

When I was a public health nurse I learned you can’t change people; you have to work with what they’ll do to change themselves. Mano a Mano asks people what they need. They work on what people think they need rather than being Americans who come in and say, ‘Okay, this is what we’re going to do for you.’ Mano a Mano listens to what people need rather than telling them what they need. That’s important to me.

Residents of the Wirkini communty attending a meeting with Mano a Mano - which are held throughout the planning and construction process - at the site of the reservoir.

Residents of the Wirkini communty attending a meeting with Mano a Mano – which are held throughout the planning and construction process – at the site of their water reservoir.

Mano a Mano asks people what they need. They work on what people think they need rather than being Americans who come in and say, ‘Okay, this is what we’re going to do for you.’ Mano a Mano listens to what people need rather than telling them what they need. That’s important to me.

Plus, the work keeps me busy. I have rights to research libraries, so I can get journals without having to pay for it. I have skills and resources that help Mano a Mano that way. I understand science. Or I learn. That helps. And I can translate the information so other people can understand it. It’s good to help people who need help — to do what they need rather than me telling them what they need.

This interview and article were written by Mano a Mano volunteer Anthony Schmitz.

More Mano a Mano Volunteer Spotlights

Below are a few more interviews with Mano a Mano volunteers that are so crucial to everything that we do. Are you interested in getting involved? Please contact us!



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