Feliz Navidad mission takes health care and good cheer on the road to Mexico
Some travel by sleigh high above the rooftops in the month of December, while others choose a different route.
Recently, the message of holiday friendship, caring and service came by trucks, bags and overstuffed boxes from the U.S. It went to families in need at two small elementary schools on the outskirts of Piedras Negras in the northeastern Mexican desert where health services and many necessities of daily living can be scarce.
For 13 years, UNTHSC School of Public Health Associate Professor Thad Miller, DrPH, and his family have volunteered with the larger mission behind these holiday trips to tiny rural communities across the harsh Chihuahua desert, which staff temporary clinics and provide medical and dental treatment and other support to local villagers.
The Millers have participated in the holiday trips for the last three years, taking one day each December to deliver good spirit, warm clothing and children’s special gifts along with the needed healthcare services and medicines.
This recent visit was facilitated by the International Rotary Club’s Piedras Negras Chapter, whose members met the surrogate Santas as they crossed the border.
Dr. Miller served as volunteer pharmacy technician while his wife Kelly, a North Texas pediatrician and TCOM graduate, treated schoolchildren and many of their infant siblings and parents.
Overall, the Feliz Navidad team served about 50 children and 10 adults between two schools in one day.
“On the day we come, no class is held, all the children dress up in their very best clothes, and their mothers, younger siblings, grandparents and sometimes fathers attend,” Dr. Miller said. “The kids are so excited. First we do the clinic, then it becomes more like a festival day – this year we brought pizza, a rare treat for the children, and a piñata, and the families brought all of us volunteers homemade tamales and charro beans as gifts in return.”
Fredericksburg and New Braunfels-area Rotarians provided the toys, along with blankets and clothing, assuring that each child received something personal and special.
The Miller family contributed their own gifts of knitted hats made by Dr. Miller’s sister, whose family has also been a part of various Mexico mission trips over the years.
“Temperatures run quite cold this time of year, and there is a real lack of warm clothes among many families, so these items are much appreciated,” Dr. Miller said.
By mid-afternoon, the volunteers left the kids playing with their new dolls, crafts, footballs, soccer balls and other presents as they packed up to head home.
Tired but still in the holiday spirit, they crossed the border around 5 p.m. and arrived home by midnight.
“It was a very long day to be sure,” Dr. Miller said, “but rewarding as always.”
UNT Health Science Center and Quest Diagnostics, the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services, have formed a unique collaboration that converges data, research and technologies to help improve prevention and treatment for individuals at high-risk for preventable diseases, su...Read more
Jan 21, 2020
By Jan Jarvis If anyone can navigate through the complex health care system, it is Dr. Dan McCoy. A physician and President of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Dr. McCoy knows his way around a hospital. But when his 93–year-old father fell and broke his hip, Dr. McCoy was ensnared by a s...Read more
Jan 21, 2020
Dr. Saperstein provided empathetic, high-quality care to countless patients at the UNTHSC Patient Care Clinic on East Seminary Drive. He retired in 2010. A U.S. Navy veteran, Dr. Saperstein operated a private practice in Kansas City, Mo., and Fort Worth prior to joining UNTHSC. At HSC, Dr. Sapers...Read more
Jan 20, 2020
By Jan Jarvis FitSteps for Life at UNTHSC Learn more about how to participate in FitSteps for Life at UNT Health Science Center. Learn More Four months after undergoing surgery to remove much of his right lung, Phil Moroneso steps on a treadmill and walks at a...Read more
Jan 16, 2020