Volunteer Spotlight – Ray Wiedmeyer
What Ray Does For Mano a Mano
Ray manages the Mano a Mano warehouse, overseeing the volunteers who sort and pack donated materials. It’s a dizzying array, ranging from simple and easily understood equipment such as canes, walkers and sutures, to complex diagnostic tools, boats, clothing, furniture and more.
From there Ray gets boxes of sorted equipment organized on pallets that can be loaded in the shipping containers that Mano a Mano sends on to Bolivian partners. It’s a staggering amount of usable hardware, much of which would otherwise end up in US landfills. For instance, in September 2015, Ray oversaw the loading of four shipping containers that held nearly 100,000 pounds of supplies. That’s enough gear to fill all the rooms of a small suburban rambler to the ceiling. That load came on the heels of another 85,000 pounds of equipment shipped in June 2016.
How He Got Started
Back in 2003, Ray heard about Mano a Mano through his church, St. Paul’s Unity-Unitarian. The church offered congregants an opportunity to tour Mano a Mano projects in Bolivia. “It sounded like an interesting organization, and I like to travel, so I signed up,” Ray says.
He decided he should know something more before he left, so he showed up for a sorting session at Mano’s former Mendota Heights headquarters, in the garage attached to founders’ Segundo and Joan Velasquez’s home. “You go and you get hooked,” Ray says now. After he returned from Bolivia he was all in — regularly attending Friday afternoon sorting sessions, cooking meals for volunteers, loading shipping containers, and digging deep to fund a Bolivian clinic with his wife, Karen Abraham.
Why Mano a Mano is Important to Ray
“There are three big reasons,” says Ray.
“One, I’ve seen how the organization operates. I love the fact that it’s managed by Bolivians, and that it gets so much out of every dollar it spends.”
“Two is that when I retired I knew I needed something to bring meaning to my life.”
“And three is that I really feel that what I do at Mano a Mano saves lives and reduces pain in the world.”
This interview and article were written by Mano a Mano volunteer Anthony Schmitz.
More 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!