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The Power of Partnerships Transforms Leesburg Community

Sunday, May 1 marked a special milestone for the residents of the Leesburg Mobile Home Park (LMHP). It was the first community-wide picnic organized by the development’s new owner, David Gregory, and local nonprofit INMED USA. “We have a lot to celebrate,” said Jennifer Lassiter Smith, the US Programs Director for INMED Partnerships for Children, the parent organization of INMED USA. “It is a community we have been serving for many years, but now there is a new feeling of optimism and hope.”

Over the past year, the LMHP community’s fate has been in limbo. Facing displacement under a potential property buy-out, residents pleaded with the Town of Leesburg and Loudoun County for a solution to keep their neighborhood in place. When the deal fell through earlier this year, Joe Serafin of Serafin Real Estate worked with local philanthropist Gregory to preserve and protect the tight-knit community. Gregory bought the property outright. “So many of us want to keep the community stable and where it is,” said Serafin. “Together, we took the Town of Leesburg and the residents off of what could have been a collision course. Dave is going above and beyond to make sure the residents have a great place to live.”

As a partner of INMED USA, Gregory reached out to Smith to help him engage with residents on their hopes and dreams for their community’s future. “INMED already works with many families in the park, and we are honored to build the support network to help the community thrive moving forward,” said Smith. “As we learn more about their needs, INMED will bridge the gaps and work with the residents in programs that build a sustainable future for the families.” But first, they celebrated!

Participants in INMED USA’s entrepreneurship program served homemade pupusas, beans and rice from their startup catering company. Children who attend INMED’s after-school and teen programs dressed in colorful attire to entertain fellow residents with traditional dances and hip hop numbers, while proud parents and neighbors clapped and snapped photos on their cell phones. INMED staff and volunteers doled out frosty snow cones, popcorn, pizza, and cake and painted the upturned faces of children and adults alike. Music and laughter filled the air. 

INMED community partners also set up tables to share information about helpful resources. BCT-Bank of Charles Town, for example, has been working with INMED USA to provide free financial literacy classes for low-income adults. “BCT is proud to continue our outreach to the LMHP community,” noted Alice Frazier, President and CEO. “Our solutions will allow them greater access to financial services, creating an environment of financial inclusion for all.” 

By far, the most popular attractions were the games and activities led by Leesburg Diversity Commission and the Leesburg Police Department. “Our officers had a lot of fun with the kids, especially leading tours of the inside of a police car and taking pictures with the families,” said Sgt. Wael Abilmona. “Most importantly, we got to know the community and they got to know us. With the assistance of Officer Castro, who translated our message to everyone, we stressed the importance of developing a partnership with the police and the police having a positive partnership with the community.”

Building trust is a priority for the community moving forward, said Linda McCray, Chair of the Leesburg Diversity Commission, which serves as a liaison for the Leesburg Police Department and other local agencies. “Our mission is to help foster diversity and inclusion within the community at large. The event truly embodied the spirit of inclusiveness, community and what is possible. We loved it!” So did resident Cesar Frias.

“It was wonderful to celebrate together as neighbors and as a family with food, drinks, music, activities for the children and so much fun. We’ve never had an event like this before,” said Frias. “We really appreciated that the police were there to let us know that we can count on them. I’d like to thank Mr. Gregory for this act of kindness towards the residents of Leesburg Mobile Home Park, as well as INMED and everyone else who helped make this event happen.”

For more information about the programs and services of INMED USA, please visit https://inmedusa.org.

Photo captions:

  1. INMED-LMHP picnic: Children enjoyed games, food and fun at the Leesburg Mobile Home Park community picnic organized by INMED USA.
  2. Wael Abilmona and his fellow officers tossed footballs with kids in the LMHP community at its recent picnic.
  3. Residents of the Leesburg Mobile Home Park celebrated the new ownership of the property, which will keep their community intact.
  4. Many countries, one community.
  5. Children in INMED USA’s after-school and teen programs entertained the crowd with traditional dancing at the LMHP community picnic.

Another Outstanding Report Card for Healthy Families Loudoun

STERLING, VA (February 21, 2022): INMED USA’s Healthy Families Loudoun continues to be a top Healthy Families Virginia (HFV) programs to prevent child abuse and neglect, according to a recent quality assurance assessment.

Healthy Families Loudoun is a three-year child abuse and neglect prevention program that helps at-risk, first-time parents build a foundation for self-reliant families and raise children who enter school ready to learn and succeed. The program includes intensive case management, regular home visits, parent education classes and support groups, access to critical resources and mentorship. INMED USA has facilitated the program for 24 years, improving the lives of thousands of families throughout Loudoun County.

The evaluation, conducted by a representative of HFV and Prevent Child Abuse Virginia, examined family files, supervision documentation, training records and outcomes for healthy births, well-baby care and parenting skills development. In addition, group discussions were conducted with home visitors, assessment workers, program management, and a host agency representative, as well as a home visit of a participating family.

“The INMED Healthy Families Loudoun team is a group of highly professional, competent and committed individuals, each determined to give their all in serving families and maintaining a culture of excellence,” said Hope Schutte, who conducted the independent assessment.

The team and participating families achieved a 100% success rate for babies having medical providers and up-to-date immunizations and a 90% success rate for well-baby visits. The HFL team also scored high marks for expanding access to vital resources for struggling families.

Thanks to INMED US Programs Director Jennifer Lassiter Smith’s outstanding program development and community collaboration skills, “the resources available to HFL parents and community members at large have also grown significantly since last year—from diapers and non-perishable food distributions, to personal hygiene items, baby strollers, perishable as well as non-perishable food distributions, free refurbished and new computers, and even rental assistance for ‘non-traditional’ renters, such as families with no signed lease,” noted Schutte.

Through a partnership with Inova Cares Clinic for Women, at-risk pregnant women and new mothers are referred to Healthy Families Loudoun for free critical support to ensure healthy birth outcomes and prepare the way for optimal child development. The HFL team also supplies clinic staff with diaper bags to distribute to families willing to be referred to HFL—with a 94% acceptance rate.
Yeny Ventura is one of those women referred by the clinic to the Healthy Families Loudoun program. A single mom of newborn twin boys, she was overwhelmed, but INMED Family Support Specialist Yesenia Abrigo was by Ventura’s side to help her build parenting skills and confidence.

“[Yesenia] showed me how to believe in myself as a single mother and to ask for assistance. She taught me how to spend quality time with my children and has given me the tools and ideas to continue working on their development,” Ventura said. “She also gave me an opportunity to learn about finances. I am very grateful to be part of this great program.”

INMED USA also has expanded its Parent Education Group program at its Family and Youth Opportunity Center in Sterling–facilitated by Healthy Families Loudoun and free for all Loudoun families. The program helps parents practice good physical, mental and emotional health via workshops on COVID prevention and treatment, weekly Zumba classes and wellness and support groups for mothers. Last year, INMED USA introduced a basic computer skills class to help parents access community resources, including their children’s teachers and online

“I am extremely proud of our Healthy Families Loudoun team and the hard work of the program participants. This has been a flagship program for INMED in Loudoun for decades,” said Dr. Linda Pfeiffer, Founder and CEO of INMED Partnerships for Children, the parent organization of INMED USA. “Complying with the national and state-wide program standards is highly complex—with intensive case management, rigorous record-keeping, tracking of processes and outcomes, extensive training requirements and regular reporting and accreditation.”

For more information about Healthy Families Loudoun and other INMED USA programs, visit https://inmedusa.org.
For more information about Healthy Families Virginia, visit https://www.familiesforwardva.org/.

Photo caption: Pictured left to right: HFL Program Manager Gester Pino, Tania Frias (Family Support Specialist), Paula Callaghan (Community Educator), Yesenia Abrigo (HFL Supervisor), Nancy Ordonez (Family Support Specialist) and Tanisha Cox (Program Development Coordinator).

SBA Finalist Spotlight 2021: INMED Partnerships for Children

Loudoun Chamber announced INMED USA as a finalist for Nonprofit Organization of the Year! Join us for the 27th Annual Loudoun Small Business Awards on Friday, October 29, 2021 at The National Conference Center. Ticket information here.

Thank you to INMED Partnerships for Children Founder and CEO, Dr. Linda Pfeiffer for answering our questions! Congratulations on being a finalist for Nonprofit Organization of the Year. View all of the finalists here.

 

Tell us your story of how your business evolved into what it is today?

The vision for INMED began while I was completing my doctorate in archaeology and anthropology. As a single mother, I took my young daughter with me on excavations in remote indigenous communities in Latin America. In the evenings, I spent time with the other mothers in the village, sharing concerns for the health and wellbeing of our children. These mothers lacked access to the most basic healthcare, and their children’s suffering was heart-breaking.

Even well-intentioned efforts to deliver medical assistance and supplies from the developed world sometimes caused more harm than good—with medicine arriving without instructions in the native language or a local network for proper distribution. I knew there had to be a better way to get basic healthcare to the people who needed it most.

On my return to the U.S., I decided to forgo my academic career to found International Medical Services for Health (INMED) in 1986, leveraging multi-sector partnerships to deliver essential medicines to under-served populations around the world. I quickly realized that the cycle of infection and disease would continue without follow-on preventive education and training—thus INMED became INMED Partnerships for Children to build pathways to enable vulnerable children, families, and communities to achieve well-being and self-reliance. We established our international headquarters in Loudoun County in 1989, where we launched our U.S. programs to apply our international expertise to solve local socio-economic challenges.

In Loudoun, we focus on vulnerable children and families through our INMED Opportunity Center, and we continue to evolve. We recently launched an INMED Aquaponics program for children and youth from low-income environments and those with   health and developmental challenges—through education and vocational training in the burgeoning field of adaptive agriculture. INMED Aquaponics is a holistic program that involves hands-on technical training as well as business and financial planning.

What are you most proud of about your team?

Our team has earned the trust of our community. Everyone who comes to INMED knows that our team is passionate about building community, so we work with partners and our participants to find solutions together. Our mentoring, vocational training, and leadership training programs for our participants mean that people who originally came to INMED for help are now working on our team to help others. It’s a testament to the trust our staff have in our community that, during the pandemic, our INMED families knew they could come to INMED with any problem. I’m proud that our INMED team had that relationship that brought our community together during the pandemic to solve problems.

In what ways do you give back to the community?

As the Founder of INMED, it has been my life’s work to give back to the community.

What would it mean to you and your business to win a Small Business Award?

This prestigious award, coming from the Loudoun Chamber, would help to elevate and raise awareness for INMED’s work in Loudoun and the opportunity gaps that still exist for so many of our neighbors- and how we can work together to change that. It also would demonstrate and spotlight how our presence in Loudoun County, and how our dedicated Loudoun staff, have made lasting and positive change in the lives of millions of people around the world, as well as in Loudoun County.

What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?

It may have seemed a small thing at the time, as we were less than 3 years old and still very small, but the decision to move from Washington DC to Loudoun County made the largest impact on INMED.  Our original location on Capitol Hill in Washington DC and most accessible workforce promoted a very structured and political environment.  Loudoun County, on the other hand, encouraged our entrepreneurial spirit and a like-minded workforce.  INMED and Loudoun County have grown together.  This would not have been possible in our original location.

Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?

This is my husband.  I met him within two months of starting INMED, and he has been a guiding light as well as comfort ever since.  He is an Immunologist/Infectious Disease specialist who lived and worked in Bangladesh for 5 years, starting the Children’s Hospital for severely malnourished children when he was head of the Indian subcontinent research team for Johns Hopkins University.  He has been the Yin to my Yang, offering quiet comfort to the stresses of building an organization, while also being a Renaissance Man who has developed key innovations that are improving lives in our programs in Loudoun County and around the world.

What is your favorite thing about running a business in Loudoun County?

As indicated above, moving to Loudoun County in 1989 was perhaps the most important decision in our history.  Its proximity to the Nation’s Capital and Dulles Airport are of course extremely helpful, but it is Loudoun County’s unparalleled entrepreneurial spirit and focus on partnerships across sectors that is most stimulating and important to me.

What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?

I never had a specific career goal as a child – but I always dreamed of living with, and learning about, different cultures, and what made them different from each other.  In fulfilling my dream, I learned there are more similarities than differences!

What is one book that changed your life and why?

“A Tale of Two Cities”

If you’re not in the office, where can we find you/what is another passion you have?

When I’m not in the office, I’m usually visiting our international affiliates and programs in Brazil, Peru, Jamaica, and South Africa.  I also take time to enjoy the local culture. When I’m not traveling for humanitarian business, I enjoy occasional retreats in the mountains, where I love to walk and rejuvenate.

How do you see your business evolving in the next 5 years? 

INMED is currently at a critical inflection point, poised for dramatic growth and impact on key social and environmental issues affecting us all locally and globally.  We plan to focus on scaling sustainable solutions that we have developed to address poverty.  We also are expanding a social enterprise division, generating revenue for the continued sustainability and success of our organization and its programs, while we are raising the standard of living for the people we serve.  In Loudoun County, we are exploring how to expand our education and aquaponics programs that will provide business and entrepreneurial training in a growing industry while also generating revenue for our organization to continue and grow its programs in Loudoun.  It also will serve as a model for similar ventures that are planned in South Africa, Jamaica, Brazil, and Peru.  An exchange program for children and youth in Loudoun County with these other programs is part of this plan.

To learn more about INMED Partnerships for Children, visit their website.