Volunteer Spotlight: Peg Thomas

Peg Thomas at the Mano a Mano warehouse.

Peg Thomas at the Mano a Mano warehouse.

How Did You Get Started Volunteering for Mano a Mano?

I knew [Mano a Mano Co-Founder] Segundo because he was a board member on the Sundance Foundation, where I’m the Executive Director. We’ve provided some small grants to Mano a Mano over the years. Recently I made a commitment to go on a trip to Bolivia and see what Mano a Mano does there.

I just got back. While I was there I saw the other side of the operation. My first day there we were distributing all the material that I’ve seen in the warehouse up here. It’s absolutely stunning to see the distribution of this material on the other end. There were people there who had spent two and a half days traveling just so they could go home with some of the equipment and supplies we’re packaging up here.

What Do You Do for Mano a Mano?

I’ve become a runner while we’ve been loading containers. Somebody says crutches, and I hand somebody some crutches. I’m very new to this, but it’s actually very easy to be useful.

When I was in Bolivia they had their first ever physical therapist conference. They had 70 physical therapists come in from all over Bolivia and they showed them how to fit patients with wheelchairs and braces, how to demonstrate useful exercises — basic kinds of things. They gave them stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs. This was amazing because physical therapists are not seen as professionals and yet they are. Mano a Mano staff members were so respectful with them.

Physical Therapy Workshop attendees using the PT cage during a practical section.

Physical Therapy Workshop attendees using the PT cage during a practical section.

There was a young woman there that they were upgrading, but they were upgrading her to this geriatric chair with handles on the back. She was crestfallen to be put in this chair. She was obviously very independent. I talked with her and discovered that she plays wheelchair basketball, so I committed to her to try to find a basketball wheelchair. As it turns out, I found one at the Courage Center. Now that wheelchair is on one of these pallets and it’s headed toward that young woman.

So this may be the beginning of a bigger thing. Maybe the sports wheelchair programs in Minnesota could have a counterpart in Bolivia.

Why is This Work Important to You?

I think the reason to volunteer and to help other people maybe comes out of the fact that I’ve been blessed with enough, and blessed with the desire and skills to help. So I feel compelled to be of service.

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!