Dr. Francis J. Collini, a board certified plastic surgeon, began volunteering his surgical skills with a Pennsylvania based organization known as “Hands Healing Hearts” in 1994. Unfortunately, this organization became inactive in 2004. To continue fostering community volunteerism in non-government sponsored medical and social growth programs, Dr. Collini continued his benevolent activities by co-foundering Community Cares For Kids (CCK) with his wife, Susan J. Collini in 2006.
Who We Are…
Based in Shavertown, Pennsylvania, “Community Cares for Kids” (CCK) provides surgical services completely free of charge to the poorest children in Ecuador and the United States. (Currently, Ecuador is the target country because of the extreme need in this part of South America) Primarily, CCK provides surgical care for children born with birth defects such as cleft lip/palate, hand deformities, club feet, craniomaxillofacial deformities, and deformities arising from burns. Occasionally adults or adolescents with other reconstructive deformities are treated, but the organization focuses primarily on the needs of children, who are given top priority in triage.
To date, CCK funds an annual mission to Ecuador. This mission usually hosts four surgical teams and complete PACU team (Recovery Room team), comprised of plastic surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists, anesthesiologists, anesthetists, nurses, translators, dentists, pediatricians and other volunteers. In the United States, with the help of Geisinger Hospital and Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, CCK has funded operations and medical interventions for poor children with more difficult and challenging medical/surgical cases. When the surgical need is not met in our area, CCK donates part of its proceeds to another local charity annually to help foster community involvement, education and civic duty. We have rallied in aiding flood victims both in Wilkes Barre and New York/New Jersey suffering from the effects of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, helped facilitate the purchase of a transportation vehicle for the local veterans needing medical treatment, supported the Wyoming Valley Children’s Association with funds utilized for physical therapy needs and challenges.
In the future, CCK would like to expand its charitable activities to sponsor children-in-need through scholarships, mentoring, and other help in fostering their educational and social development.
What makes “Community Cares for Kids” a unique organization is the following:
- It is a completely voluntary organization. This means that all personnel associated with this organization donate their time and expertise and work without pay. Specifically, all administrative, legal, accounting, reporting, medical, nursing, physical therapy, and laboratory tasks, as well as any other tasks that are performed by individuals associated with the organization, are donated and performed pro bono. All doctors and nurses that belong to this organization work on a 100% voluntary basis collecting no costs or fees for any of the work that is provided.
- All donations received go directly to sponsor the medical missions and CCK’s benevolent activities. There are no salaries paid by the organization. The donations pay for the airfare needed by the team to travel to our destination and the lodging for the medical team while in Ecuador. Portions of the travel to and from the airport is donated. Meals for the team members and other personal items such as phone calls, etc are the responsibility of the members themselves.
- Most of the medical supplies, including all the materials that are used for the surgical procedures performed, are donated through a variety of different organizations such as local hospitals and major US companies. These supplies are taken to Ecuador and used during the surgical procedures. Any supplies taken abroad that are not used will be left behind to be utilized by the local physicians.
- Our website CommunityCaresforKids.com provides information regarding our activities and fundraising events.
- Community Cares for Kids also believes that the most effective way to promote the future well-being of the children in Ecuador is through teaching. “Feed one person by giving him a fish; feed millions by teaching them how to fish for themselves.” Ecuador does not have a formal training program for surgeons. CCK welcomes and encourages those medical doctors interested in plastic surgery to join and assist the teams in this operating room. Teaching includes many of the advanced surgical techniques performed in the US. To date, CCK has trained 20-25 devoted surgical residents.
- CCK also provides a unique educational experience for local high school, college and medical school students. Each mission includes local and national students who gain knowledge, experience and a wonderful “sense of duty” by assisting the professional staff wherever needed in Ecuador. They comfort children, inventory, carry and transport equipment, and provide “helping hands” wherever needed. Volunteers often remark “that they have received more than they have given” after their truly “eye-opening” experience!
Our fundraising efforts include the following:
- Mail solicitations.
- Personal solicitations.
- Foundation grants and solicitations.
- Accepting donations via our website.
- Government grants and donations.
- Vendor, Business and Corporate donations
- Raffles, Auctions, Social Galas, Sales
From 2006-2010, SMILE TRAIN partnered with Community Cares for Kids and has donated over $50,000 to support our efforts. In 2011, Smile Train re-organized and ended their national grants to small organizations. Hence, CCK performs 99% of its fundraising endeavors.
Community Cares For Kids was honored as one of four organizations selected out of hundreds of international medical mission type organizations for a PSEF grant in 2007. This grant was given for excellence through the education foundation of the American Society of Plastic Surgery and sponsored by Ethicon.
We also involve our local community. Specific fundraisers have included:
- A gala event each January that involves a social celebration in a Mardi Gras theme and features an educational slide show of CCK’s activities for the year. A large raffle, silent auction, and solicitation of sponsors aid in the fundraising efforts of the evening.
- Promotional sales for fundraising, including a calendar with pictures drawn by local grade school children, CCK T-shirts and service-sales provided through Age of Innocence (Salon and Day Spa owned by Susan Collini.)
- School art or essay contests and fund drives hosted by individuals or local groups.
Other CCK Endeavors…
- CCK mentors local and national students as volunteers during our annual mission,
- There is a $500 Francis J. Collini, Sr. scholarship award given each year to a student volunteer to facilitate his or her travel expenses to our annual mission.
- CCK helped purchase a van to transport local veterans for their medical treatments.
- CCK has donated to the Wyoming Valley Children’s Association (WVCA).
- CCK has donated to Volunteers in Medicine.
- CCK volunteers physically helped flood victims of Irene and Sandy and contributed to the local and New Jersey relief efforts.
- CCK donated to the victims of the Connecticut elementary school shooting.
- CCK helps feed the homeless during the Christmas and Easter seasons at Camp Orchard Hill in The Back Mountain.
- CCK offers community service project volunteer hours for local students.