By Pete Mooney
I recently had the opportunity to interview with the Waitsfield Select Board to fill Darryl Forrest’s open seat. I would like to thank the board for running a professional process and for an interesting interview on the day. While I was not ultimately selected, I am glad that I threw my hat in the ring. I was also pleased that the board had five candidates to choose from. During these very difficult times, it is important for as many of us as possible to step up and try to help our community. I am sure Jordan Gonda will do a great job and that she will complement the team we have serving as select persons.
I read the reporting of my background and comments in The Valley Reporter last week. I am writing to correct the record slightly and using the opportunity to give some visibility to an organization I think should be better known in the Mad River Valley.
The Valley Reporter missed one role on my profile where I have spent a significant portion of my time since retiring. For the last 10 years, I have been involved with an organization called Project HOPE, serving as the chair of their board of directors for the last three years. HOPE is a global nonprofit established in 1958 by Dr. Bill Walsh who had the audacity to cajole the Eisenhower administration into giving him a decommissioned Navy vessel that he transformed into a hospital ship delivering medical supplies and volunteer caregivers around the world. The organization has since given up the ship and evolved into one of the world’s largest global health NGOs with a focus on infectious diseases, maternal and child health, and disaster preparedness and response. HOPE emphasizes capacity building rather than just the delivery of aid. We’ve worked on projects like standing up neo-natal ICUs in the Dominican Republic post Hurricane Maria and staff training and departmental start-up for hospitals like the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in Johannesburg. We also edit and publish Health Affairs, a leading peer-reviewed academic health care journal.
HOPE has been heavily involved in pandemic preparedness and supported the Sierra Leone health care system during the West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2013. So, when the COVID pandemic struck we responded aggressively and to date we have distributed over 11 million pieces of PPE and trained over 83,000 health care workers. This has included working with a number of U.S. health care systems which we found were as vulnerable to stress and overload as anywhere in the world. Crucially, we accomplished this while continuing to meet our commitments to our ongoing international programs. Project HOPE’s people responded amazingly despite personal hardships and did not miss a beat.
We are not as flashy as some more well-known health care NGOs and we are not in-your-face aggressive about fundraising. But I believe we are having a major impact improving lives around the world and helping people in need. Working with Project HOPE has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. It has been incredibly humbling personally to interact with HOPE people in the field who are totally selfless, work tirelessly and, without exaggeration, would give up their own lives to help another human being.
You can find out more about Project HOPE at projecthope.org and healthaffairs.org.
Mooney lives in Waitsfield.