Working as a nurse at Littleton Adventist has been a great experience for Maribeth Trujillo, clinical nurse manager women’s and newborn care unit, but when she learned about Project C.U.R.E., she knew she had found yet another way to extend the mission of the hospital to a global community.
Project C.U.R.E. (Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment) is a benevolent health care foundation based in Denver that has been helping people around the world for nearly 20 years. By collecting surplus medical supplies and shipping them to developing countries where supplies are limited, Project C.U.R.E. has helped save lives around the world.
Trujillo said she her desire to help others and work in the medical field started at a young age. "I was in and out of the hospital a lot as a kid and the nurses were always nice to me, so I always played with nurse Barbies," she said. "It seems like every birthday as a child there was something that I got that was either a nurse kit or a doctor kit or a nurse doll."
In addition to her experience with medical toys and nurses in the hospital, Trujillo also drew inspiration from her mother, who became a nurse when Trujillo was 17. "I am one of seven children, so that was quite a feat for her," she said. "I think I was impressed by that as well. I worked as a nurse’s aid through high school and then went to nursing school."
While in nursing school, Trujillo got sidetracked and went into the restaurant business with her husband for a period of time. She eventually went back to school and earned her associates degree in 1990 from Arapahoe Community College. Trujillo is currently completing her BSN at Regis University.
According to Trujillo, when Doug Jackson, president and CEO of Project C.U.R.E., came to Littleton Adventist to tell the staff about the humanitarian organization, it seemed like a perfect fit.
"My husband and I have always done volunteering together, whether it’s community trash pick up or sports or Girl Scouts when our kids were young – volunteer work has just always been a part of our life," she said.
"After I heard about Project C.U.R.E., I thought I should check it out and learn more about it. With Regis, there is a service learning philosophy, so as I sought my service learning site, Project C.U.R.E. was at the top of my list."
It was her service learning project that got her started, but it has been the satisfaction she gets while sorting medical supplies and volunteering her time that has kept her coming back and helping to generate more and more volunteers.
"I went a few times just to learn about the sorting team from another nurse. Then I talked to my husband and decided it would be a good thing to do," she said. "There was very little overhead and we could see it was really a grassroots effort. They always post where the last container was shipped, so you never feel like it’s this nebulous thing where you never know the outcome. It’s quite an impressive organization from that standpoint."
Currently, Trujillo is going once a month, leading a two-hour sorting team. She has been going since May, and would like to go more often. She usually oversees 15-20 volunteers, but it seems to get a little bigger each time, which she said is "really inspiring."
"Our job is to sort (the medical supplies) into containers that have already been labeled by Project C.U.R.E. That’s why they really like to have medical professionals helping as team leaders, so I felt that was a way I could use my medical background and bring that to a group of people who want to help in some way but wouldn’t have a clue how to tell different catheters apart.
"It feels good, and it’s really physical," she said. "It’s very immediate to look back and see how much you’ve sorted."
"I believe in this hospital’s mission, and I’m kind of the avenue for helping make that a reality for some people here. I really enjoy seeing people from around the community coming together."
Trujillo has also helped with getting the hospital more involved in donations by placing Project C.U.R.E. donation bins around the facility. "There are now bins on every floor for staff member to use. Things such as gloves that were not used, but are no longer sterile, can go in the bins," she said. "Those normally would be thrown away, but now they can be used somewhere where they are really needed.
"It’s rewarding for me to help other people who work in the hospital who don’t necessarily get that hands-on experience every day at work."
Trujillo’s work – both in the hospital and out in community – incorporates the hospital’s mission, which is extending the healing ministry of Christ to the community. "Community to me is much more than just the local level, so Project C.U.R.E. is really a way of doing that on a global level."
For more information on Project C.U.R.E., go to www.projectcure.org.