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More Than Just Logistics: Kelly Call Raises the Bar and Takes Care of Business

Kelly Call is GHF’s “Logistician Extraordinaire”.  She has been doing medical outreach across the globe — from Wyoming to Indonesia, Nepal, and currently in Guatemala.  She is an incredibly organized woman and a great problem-solver that helps our healthcare delivery model work like a well-oiled machine!  We are blessed to call her our friend!  Read all about her story with Global Healthworks Foundation below.

More Than Just Logistics:  Kelly Call Raises the Bar and Takes Care of Business

“Where’s the orange group?” Dan Wunderlich, Founder and Executive Director of Global Healthworks Foundation, asks. Kelly Call picks up her clipboard and glances at a list with eight colors and various jornada (medical mission) stations. “In yoga,” she responds. “They’re almost done.”

Next to her clipboard sit several boxes of colored paper bands—the kind placed on the wrists of concertgoers or patrons at a bar. “We don’t want anybody getting lost,” she says. “We didn’t have these when I first came here. I work in a rock-and-roll bar and we use these. So, I thought, ‘This could work.’”

The wristband system “works” in that it creates a much more efficient and organized system, allowing patients to flow easily from one treatment area to the next and Kelly to monitor their time spent in each location. “It’s an art,” Dan explains simply. After registration, one group may head to yoga, then to triage; from there, patients are seen by health practitioners in the main treatment room for acupuncture, massage, and/or Reiki. “As the jornada evolved and we began seeing a greater number of patients,” Kelly says, “we needed a better system. We started it my second or third time.”

The co-owner of Snug Harbor Bar in Charlotte, NC, Kelly began working with Dan in 2010. In need of someone to help with jornada logistics, Dan followed up with a colleague who recommended Kelly for the job. “She blew me away the first time we met,” he says. The two have worked together ever since. “She’s the first person I check with when I’m planning the calendar. If the dates don’t work for her, we look at something else,” he says.

Picking the date is the easy part. Planning the trip begins months in advance, with Kelly responsible for gathering office and ancillary medical supplies in the States and hauling them down to Guatemala. While these materials are obviously important, volunteers are often more interested in the contents of the third bag she carries: the snacks. “She keeps people happy—and less whiny,” Peter Caron, the Foundation’s Program Manager in Guatemala, says. “She knows if the team morale suffers, we don’t have a team, and we can’t treat. But she also says, ‘I love them, so I want them to have good snacks.’” As Dan explains it, “She knows the medical team needs to be well-nourished to endure the intensity of the week. She’s thinking ahead to make sure they’re well taken care of.”

"Kelly is an incredibly organized woman.”

Kelly also ensures Dan is taken care of. “If Dan’s happy, I’m happy,” she says. Part of keeping him happy—and herself—is maintaining an organized, sanitary, and well-labeled space. One need only look at what she describes as “her haven”—a small room above the primary treatment space which houses clinical supplies—to understand she likes things neat. Next to boxes of needles and natural herbs is her own container with some of her favorite things, including sandwich crackers and a few packets of instant noodle soup. “It reminds me of my grandmother. We used to drink it together when we traveled through Europe.”

Though she doesn’t use the word to describe herself, Kelly is also an altruistic person who donates her time and energy to a variety of causes. In addition to participating in the biannual jornadas, Kelly also donates her fiancé’s artwork to various places in her community and volunteers as a lunch buddy at her local elementary school. (“Can you imagine a six-year-old having me as a lunch buddy?” she asks, laughing.) “I think she’s found a little bit of her passion,” Dan says, when describing her work outside her bar.

Part of that passion stems from her relationships with people. While most of her interactions are with English-speaking volunteers from Canada and the United States, Kelly manages to “get by” when speaking to Guatemalans thanks to her limited Spanish and her fearless demeanor. “We have our own language,” she says of her relationship with Eva Carrillo, who coordinates the local health promoters and mobile clinics in Quiché. “She speaks Spanish. I speak English. We get each other.” Eva agrees. “Nuestro acuerdo era que ella aprenda inglés y yo, español. Nadie habla muy bien, pero nos entendemos. (Our agreement was that she would learn English and I, Spanish. Neither speaks very well, but we understand each other.)”

When asked why she continues to come back, Kelly’s response is modest and straightforward, as one would expect it to be: “It’s humbling. It’s good for me to do something different and to be someone low on the totem pole. I’ve made some really good friends and I’m excited to see them twice a year.” Friends like Peter feel similarly. “I’ve been able to learn a lot from her,” he says. “I’m not sure we’d be able to do this without her.”

Though the bar owner may appear to be an unlikely part of the team at first glance, volunteers agree: she’s part of the glue holding the operation together. “She’s a problem solver,” Dan says. “With her help, now it works like a well-oiled machine.” And, Eva adds, there’s more that meets the eye. “Es una mujer increíblemente ordenada. Aunque parece una persona muy dura, en realidad, es muy afectiva y cariñosa. La amamos mucho. (She is an incredibly organized woman. Although she seems like a very tough person, in reality, she is very supportive and caring. We love her very much.)”