Holly Gendron, RN/Director of Serenity House, and Susan Saperstein, RN, both work for Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care (VNHC) of Santa Barbara. In 2004 through the Foundation for Hospices, their organization partnered with a Hospice in SubSaharan Africa and were assigned the Viagenco Comprehensive Care Clinic in Mbita/Luanda, Kenya. Mbita was noted to have one of the highest HIV rates in the world.

On behalf of the VNHC, Gendron and Saperstein have made four assessment trips to Kenya, have raised funds for Viagenco, and have expanded the program. Viagenco now has a fully operating health clinic and home-based palliative care program which serves the entire community. Because so many children had been orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, they started a program to sponsor these children to attend school which has produced good results.

These ladies also helped to start a microfinance program and Permaculture program that the community eventually took over. Because of these programs, village people have learned how to utilize sustainable agriculture. VNHC aided in establishing relationships between Viagenco and several local agencies such as Direct Relief International, Crane School, Unite to Light, Rotary, UTU, and Engineers Without Borders. Thank you Holly and Susan for your dedication, time, and effort.

The Paul Harris Fellow is named after the founder of Rotary and is a special acknowledgement award given in Rotary. It is a very special honor to give to a non-Rotarian and is not done often by the RCSBS.

Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise meets at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday at the Santa Barbara Club, 1105 Chapala Street (www.clubrunner.ca/santabarbarasunris or www.sbsunriserotary.org).


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