Last summer, Canvasback volunteer Steve Doll took on a project to help young Geraldine DeBrum receive surgery for a broken elbow that went untreated and healed poorly. The project's purpose went beyond helping Geraldine, however—Doll also wanted to provide an at-home mission experience for those who can't travel internationally.
The project succeeded in doing both. Geraldine received surgery for her elbow, and seemingly half of Redding, Doll's hometown, pitched in to make it happen. Church members donated money to pay for airfare for Geraldine and her mother, Julita. Families hosted the two in their homes, saving them from expensive living costs. Doctors, nurses, and hospitals donated their services and space. Dentists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists rushed to donate their specialized skills.
Canvasback, although not based in Redding, was able to pre-screen Geraldine in Majuro and secure the donation of a Compass Elbow Universal Hinge, an important piece of equipment for healing after surgery.
Donette Jones and her husband hosted Geraldine and her mother for most of the two months they stayed in Redding. The Jones' took the two on many of their firsts: riding a horse, geocaching, visiting a mountain, seeing snow, and attending a classmate's Frozen-themed birthday party.
Geraldine's favorite event, Jones said, was visiting the Sacramento Zoo.
Geraldine and Julita are now back on Majuro. They keep in touch with their friends in Redding via Skype, and they say they are doing well. Although Geraldine does not have a full range of motion in her elbow, she has far more than she did before surgery, when her elbow was so stiff her arm could barely bend. Her elbow has enough range to allow her to eat and write with it.
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The town truly came together, proving that small cities have an extraordinary capacity and willingness to help. Despite people never having to leave Redding, this was truly the mission experience that Steve Doll was looking for. Without the community—everyone from medical professionals to churches—coming together, Geraldine would probably still have a stiff, immobile arm.
Steve Doll hopes that the impact of this project will leave the confines of Redding—that other cities and communities will follow their example and take on big projects of their own.
From our years of experience with the power of volunteers and the grace of God, we believe it can happen.