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Our Story

How it all began

In 2005, Dr. Juana Hernandez and her parents Maria and Francisco Hernandez meet Stacey Giglio for the first time at Kennedy Airport while traveling to the Dominican Republic with three members of a local church for a medical mission trip. The trip was programmed for the west coast of the island towards Haiti. Upon their arrival at Santiago International Airport, their contact, Pastor Marcelino Mendez informs the small group that the weather had been bad and a hurricane was on the way and forecast to hit the west coast. Due to the news of the inclement weather, a decision was made to head to the east coast and bring the mission there instead.

Pastor Marcelino and his two helpers Johnny and Garlic the bus driver take the seven people to the east coast on the journey to the pastor’ humble home. There the group will have room and board for the next three days. Along the way, they pick up Dr. Carlos Vasquez, a local physician, who had volunteered to help. They carry with them ten boxes of medications designed to treat approximately 200 patients each. That evening, they sit down with the pastor and the local physician to plan the two day mission. The next morning, the group travels thirty minutes out of town to a local church to provide the medical care. As they drive across town, Dr. Vasquez and one of the volunteers make several announcements on the location of the medical mission to the public. Meanwhile, the locals gather on the road side to follow the bus to the church and shortly after a line forms and grows longer and longer. The medical staff is made up of two physicians and two nurses and once inside the church they start the consultations. By mid-day, the torrential rains from the hurricane begin. At the mission site, the locals run for cover and push their way into the small church. The people left waiting outdoors are agitated, frustrated, and restless. They are soaking wet, however they would not leave their place on line. For everyone’ safety, the doors are closed at 3:30 p.m. and the mission is called off for the day. Although the heavy rains continue, the team must travel back to the pastor’ home. On the road, they encounter hazardous conditions and soon the tires of the bus get stuck in the deep wet mud. Everyone jumps off the bus, and the men push the bus up the hill. The group all covered in mud finally arrives at the pastor’ home ready to sit down to their first meal of the day; a dish of rice, peas, and chicken. The following morning, the rain tapers off and they resume the mission at a different church in town. In the afternoon, the teachers of the local school prepare a meal for the children and the group joins them. The day after, the volunteers depart for Santiago to head back home.

There is no doubt that this unique experience created a strong bond between the volunteers and sparked a genuine desire to serve those in need. After the mission, Dr. Hernandez, Dr. Vasquez, and Nurse Giglio kept in contact. One day, Maria Hernandez had a vision where she saw a group coming together for another mission and so she encouraged Dr. Hernandez to make plans for a new medical mission trip. Dr. Hernandez carefully analyzed the 2005 mission experience and considered ways to provide enhanced quality care for the needy and to improve safety at the mission.

In 2007, Dr. Hernandez, her parents, and Stacey Giglio joined forces with Pastor Marcelino and Dr. Vasquez to make the decision to launch a mission on their own with major improvements under the name “Called to Serve”. At this time, new members join the team and together forty-one volunteers including a local pharmacist and two additional physicians, Dr. Otto Hernandez and Dr. Arturo Rivera participate in a two day mission to La Vega, Dominican Republic where 953 patients were seen.

In 2010 and 2013, “Called to Serve” ventured to other areas in the Dominican Republic with the same goal in mind – “To serve the neediest in these communities”.

“Called to Serve” has overcome many challenges and obstacles that have helped to guide them to improve and make each medical mission the best it can be.

You can watch more videos of our last mission in the Dominican Republic, CLICK HERE...

We invite you to be a part of our team for the next Medical Mission Trip to Nagua and Cevicos, Dominican Republic.