“A Kiss and a Hug” for this group of Baby Bag Packers

On the evening of Monday November 5, twelve people gathered around the table at Global Links for a little feast, a little wine … and a whole lotta baby bags. Global Links had a serious need for baby clothes to complete our New Baby bags – handmade bags filled with supplies for new mothers and babies. The contents of the bags have been determined in consultation with our partner hospitals in the countries where we ship the bags, and are used by hospitals as an incentive for mothers to come in for prenatal care and attended deliveries – both of which save lives.  We couldn’t ship any bags until we had more clothes.

Each of the guests brought three new baby outfits apiece – 15 pounds of baby clothes. Together, they packed 57 bags and listened to a presentation from Program Officer Marisol Valentin, who read a thank you note from a mother in Cuba who had received one of the bags.  “I send you a kiss and a hug to thank you with all my heart,” the note concluded.

The packers, four of whom are long-term Global Links volunteers, understand how the bags are a valuable tool to improve Maternal/Infant mortality – a special focus of Global Links. Thanks to their efforts, we can make this tool available to a hospital in Haiti that requested them in our next donation there.

Find out more about Global Links New Baby Collection, and all the different ways you can get involved.

The baby bag crew, clockwise starting on the left: Cecelia Brissett, Roberto Briceño, Barbara Reichbaum, Carol Reichbaum, Theresa Scheiffarth, Chris Miller, Gwen Thesen,
Marcie Barent, Sabine Scheiffarth, Luise Davis, Jack Reamak, Marcia Brissett



Collecting Scrubs is Only the First Step

Recently, Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore responded enthusiastically to Save Your Scrubs, donating 810 pounds of gently used medical uniforms. Next, a group from the International Women’s Association of Pittsburgh came in to begin the job of sorting through them, making matched sets, grouping by size, and packing them for donation.

Scrubs are an important way to limit the spread of infectious material, protecting both healthcare workers and their patients. In the hospitals with which Global Links works, budgets rarely provide for scrubs, and our partners have been requesting them regularly. Scrubs will be included in our upcoming hurricane relief shipment to Cuba.

Global Links accepts all scrubs, men’s and women’s, tops and bottoms, in sizes up through X-Large that don’t have one’s name embroidered onto them. Institutional names are acceptable. Scrubs must be clean and in good condition, with no rips or stains.

The scrubs that Global Links’ overseas partners are unable to use- because of sizing, mismatched pairs or other issues – are given to a local volunteer organization that makes them into children’s quilts for donation.

Small donations of scrubs can be mailed or dropped off at

Global Links
4809 Penn Ave. #2,
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Attn: Save Your Scrubs

For larger, institutional collections, email Hayley Brugos or call 412.361.3424, ext. 213.

Your additional donation of $25 will help us deliver these scrubs to where they are desperately needed. To make a secure donation via our website, click here and put “scrubs” in the comment field.

Devoting an Evening to Maternal/Infant Health

“If I was a new mother, needing these supplies,” said Barbara Reichbaum, a longtime regular Global Links volunteer, “I would be happy to receive the bag with even a portion of the contents.” Barbara and her fellow “case packers” had just learned that the only reason Global Links was unable to ship more baby bags was that we did not have enough baby clothes. Wanting to ensure that all recipients would receive some baby clothes in their bags, the case packers decided to take action, and planned a baby shower/clothing drive to complete the bags for an upcoming donation to La Croix Health Center in Haiti.

Case packers come in regularly to check, count, label and pack materials that arrive in cases. It is a big job, and this dedicated crew is vital to the functioning of Global Links.

The baby bag project was inspired by a hospital Global Links worked with in Nicaragua, which provided bags of essentials as an incentive for mothers to come in for prenatal care and a medically attended delivery. Global Links consulted with medical personnel in the countries where we work to devise a list of appropriate items to include in the bags. A quilter in Ann Arbor, Michigan, designed a sturdy, all purpose bag and made hundreds of them herself before helping to assemble easily followed instructions for other volunteers to follow.  The bags are designed to have a long and useful life after the baby is born.

Global Links plans to send 100 bags to La Croix, each bag containing the same carefully chosen items.  “We believe these bags help encourage mothers to deliver in the safe environment of the Maternity Center,” the staff at La Croix wrote.

Good prenatal and obstetric care can save lives. Global Links New Baby bags can help.








Barbara, left, and the rest of the case pack crew: Ann, Louise, Sabine and Marcie.

Please support of Maternal/Infant health. To find out how to host your own Baby Shower for Global Links, email Stacy Bodow.

One Volunteer’s Impact on Primary Care

“See that?” says Jim Carr, pointing out a deep crease in a piece of red tubing snaking out of a blood pressure cuff. “This one is new out of the box, but it won’t last long with that crease in it.” He pulls the faulty tubing off – he’ll find a better piece, attach it into the cuff, and pack it for donation to a hospital or clinic in an underserved community where, thanks to Jim, it should last for a long time.

Since Jim began volunteering at Global Links in November 2005, every blood pressure unit we have sent out has been checked and, if necessary, repaired by Jim.  Jim is an Equipment Specialist, a volunteer who has received training to manage one specific project. He comes in as his time permits, and he takes great satisfaction in knowing not only how vitally important blood pressure units are for primary care, but also that, as he says, the ones Global Links sends “are going to work.”

“Jim’s dedication to his work at Global Links is remarkable,” says Medical Outreach Manager Hayley Brugos.  “Working with blood pressure units requires matching the proper size cuffs, bulbs, stethoscopes and the detailed work of making sure each gauge is calibrated properly.  Jim pulls all of these components together.  He’s totally reliable. And he wouldn’t want me to say this, but he’s a real sweetheart.”

Jim Carr with all the components of blood pressure units.

While there is no special knowledge required to be a volunteer equipment specialist, Jim says that mechanical skills come in handy. A former electrical technician with Bell Atlantic, which is now Verizon, Jim, age 70, brings a certain know-how to the job.

Testing every gauge takes not only patience and meticulous attention to detail, it also takes a special tool – created for Global Links by University of Pittsburgh Engineers for Sustainable Medical Development. “This group has been collaborating with Global Links since last year, looking for simple solutions to recurring problems in resource-poor communities,” explains Global Links Deputy Director Angela Garcia. “One of Jim’s challenges was how to calibrate the BP units, so when he opened one up and showed the engineers the inside, they developed a small, specialized wrench that enables him to calibrate the gauge. We have plenty of units, they just need to be recalibrated.”

Global Links includes BP units in just about every shipment as well as with many medical service trips. “They are one of the most important tools for primary care,” says Suture and Medical Service Trip Manager Jennifer Novelli. “Expectant mothers and many other community members need to have their blood pressure checked regularly, and there is just no way to do that without a blood pressure unit.”

Since Jim’s first day on the job, he has prepped nearly 2000 BP units. “It’s not rocket science,” he says. “But if you’ve got time on your hands, you may as well be helping somebody.”


Dr. Luther Castillo of Honduras checks a patient’s blood pressure with a unit prepared for donation by Jim Carr.

Global Links is looking for more volunteer Equipment Specialists. Please visit our website for more information.

Please make a donation to Global Links in support of primary care.


Johns Hopkins and Global Links: A Winning Partnership

Helping their peers in resource-poor communities, keeping usable materials out of landfills – the medical staff at Johns Hopkins Hospital rose to the challenge. Last month, they participated in Global Links’ Save Your Scrubs collection, and sent 810 pounds of gently used and very much needed scrubs to Global Links for redistribution to hospitals in underserved communities.

Nurses Niki Giddings, left, and Kristi Bode, right, who ran the Save Your Scrubs collection at Johns Hopkins.

“This is a win-win for everyone,” said Hayley Brugos, Medical Outreach Manager. “Volunteers will be packing these in the coming weeks so they can be included in our upcoming shipments to Haiti, Nicaragua, and all the countries where we work.”

“Scrubs are so basic for anyone working in healthcare in the U.S., we rarely give them a thought, but they are critically important in reducing the opportunity for infectious material to be transmitted between patients,” says Global Links Deputy Director Angela Garcia.  “Their design makes them easy to clean, with few places for microbes to hide. In the communities we serve, critical medical equipment and medicines are in short supply; the purchase of scrubs cannot be a priority given the urgency of other needs.”

Over the past two years, Johns Hopkins has donated hospital beds, mattresses, IV poles and other medical supplies. We are thrilled to have them as a partner in Save Your Scrubs.

Donations in Uganda “Very Much Appreciated and Needed”

“The blood pres­sure cuff and stethoscope were very much appreciated and needed as they are very expen­sive to purchase in Uganda,” wrote Pauline Greenlick, Treasurer of Bright Kids Uganda. Global Links provided medical supplies – bandages, gauze, gloves, thermometers, syringes – that were carried to the clinic in Entebbe by Ms. Greenlick and fellow Bright Kids board member Louis Picard. Because of the donation from Global Links, Ms. Greenlick explained, the recently hired nurse at the health center “has readily available much need medical supplies to use for the many medical needs of 64 Bright Kids children.”

The supplies for the trip were sorted and packed – like most Global Links supplies – by volunteers, who dedicate many hours to making sure every donation meets high standards. The donated materials “definitely made a positive impact on the health of 64 children who have been affected seriously by HIV/Aids, poverty, conflict and abandonment,” Ms. Greenlick wrote. “On behalf of the 64 Bright Kids children who now have access to health care, medications and health support, I send you their thanks as well.”

Global Links is happy to share the thanks with our volunteers. Please visit our website to find out how you can help.

Bright Kids Founder and Director Victoria Nalongo Namusisi with some of the equipment donated by Global Links.

“You can actually see the difference being made…”

That’s what one volunteer said recently about working at Global Links, which has just been designated one of the top ten places in Pittsburgh to volunteer by GreatNonprofits.org.  A few other comments:

  • “It was an honor to be able to help sort medical supplies that might one day save someone’s life! And on top of that, we had a lot of fun too.”

  • “It is such a wonderful, successful, and extremely well-organized organization…. Everyone who volunteers here is so impressed with the mission of this group. It is amazing how much we accomplish when we are there.”

  •  “The people at Global Links are very thoughtful. Before becoming a volunteer, they give a nice tour of the place and explain their ‘business.’ Only good things to say about them!”

You can read all the comments here. And then consider devoting a few hours to a regular volunteer shift. There are many ways to get engaged in the work that Global Links does. We are especially looking for volunteers to help with sorting and packing, and beginning in October we need volunteers to assist in preparing mailings.

Please visit our website for more information and a volunteer application. Questions? Email Stacy Bodow.

Ann Terputac: Saw Needs Firsthand in Mozambique

Ann Terputac was primarily a trauma nurse at Allegheny General Hospital before she retired. She saw the need for supplies in resource-poor areas when she hand-carried sutures, lice medication and other materials from Global Links to Mozambique through a mission program at her church. Oh that trip, she was given one mask for herself to wear for ten days working with tuberculosis patients.  She found Global Links when she was preparing for that trip and came on a Global Links to Health tour – and says she was delighted to learn that a medical supply recovery organization like this existed.  She says she is glad to be part of an organization that puts surplus to good use, and recognizes the importance of sending exactly the right donation to help a resource-poor hospital provide the best care it can to its patients.

Ann found Global Links when she was preparing for a trip to Mozambique.

Ciara Biggs: “It’s a shame to waste things . . . .”

Ciara Biggs has worked on the 5300 medical surgical unit at Magee Women’s Hospital of UPMC since 2008.  This unit is the strongest collection site in the hospital and Ciara is a big supporter of Global Links.  When asked why she makes the extra effort to put supplies in the bin, she said, “It’s a shame to waste things that aren’t going to be used from a patient’s room or from our pockets.  Why not send it to someone that can use it?”

Ciara Biggs works in the strongest collection site in all of Magee-Womens Hospital.


Barbara Reichbaum: “Imagine taking care of patients without gloves . . . “

Barbara Reichbaum packing medical supplies at the Global Links warehouse.


Barbara Reichbaum worked at the VA as a cardiovascular clinical specialist, but spent most of her career as the Senior Quality Manager at the VA in Pittsburgh. After retiring from the VA, she worked in a private home care agency as the Director of Quality/Nursing for four years. Barbara says she enjoys being able to bring her knowledge and background to the job, and that improving the quality of healthcare in other countries while reducing waste in her own country are goals that are important to her. She works regularly at Global Links packing supplies, recruits new volunteers on college campuses, and encourages nurses in home care organizations to donate unused supplies. She says she loves talking to other nurses and asking them to imagine taking care of patients without gloves, bandages or the basics needed to do their job.