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By Teresa Simpson
Whitman County Gazette 

Fire chief and pastor to lead service team to Mexico


February 15, 2024

Submitted Photos | Michael Birnbaum

Well Child International has lunch during the 2023 trip to Mexico. Right,

COLFAX- The Colfax Rotary, local emergency responders and some local churches are teaming up to form and send a team to do community and medical service in Mexico from March 16 through the 22nd.

An orientation and informational session for those interested in participating in the service mission will be held Friday, Feb. 16, at 6 p.m. at the Plymouth Church, 321 South Main Street. Pizza will be provided at the information session.

Rosalia Fire District 7 Chief Laura Lautenschlager said she teamed up with Reverend Michael Birnbaum when he approached her after a presentation for the Colfax Rotary Club. Birnbaum said that Lautenschlager seemed like the kind of person who would be interested in doing this.

Birnbaum and Lautenschlager are organizing and leading the team that will be providing medical assistance or serving in a community center providing help for low-income women and children in Puerto Penasco, the Baja area of Mexico.

Birnbaum said that there are a couple of EMT students who will also attend the service trip and have the opportunity to be taught emergency Spanish.

Lautenschlager said that it will be fun to learn something new even though it's not something she has encountered a lot in Whitman County. "It has happened a couple of times were we've had a non-english speaking patient," she said.

Laughtenschlager said that donations are an important part of the trip, "We're bringing things like blood pressure cups and medications," she said, adding that somebody was trying to get defibrillators to bring for the Mexican EMTs.

All logistical arrangements are made through Well Child International (WCI).

"One of the advantages of this trip is we fly into Phoenix, and then WCI picks us up in vans and takes us to the work site and hotel," Birnbaum said, noting that the trip also includes local tourist options for downtime.

The trip cost is $985, plus a $150 deposit that includes transport from the airport and local transport, housing, two meals a day, professional guides and team leaders, and some local touring and translators.

Those who want to participate must have a passport or an enhanced driver's license with birth certificate.

"If somebody is considering going it's an opportunity and experience that not of people take or get," Lautenschlager said, noting that helping people less fortunate is always a fulfilling experience.

Serfes Bistro, 212 North Main Street in Colfax, is hosting an all-day fundraiser on Sunday, Mar. 3, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to raise funds for the trip.

Alex Serfes said that the fundraiser will raise funds for whatever the team will use the money for.

Attendees can order from the regular menu, and profits will go to the Whitman County Mission Service team.

Serfes will also coordinate donations for home medical kits, including children's chewable vitamins, band-aids, antibiotic ointment, ace bandages, Tylenol and baby aspirin.

Submitted Photos | Michael Birnbaum

Well Child International visits a local orphanage.

"What I'm doing is getting volunteer donations for medical supplies," Serfes said, noting that Birnbaum will have a letter to pass out to collect the supplies.

Serfes said these supplies will be to tend to the needs of the people in the service mission area that have been underserved.

Monetary donations or checks payable to "Well Child International" will also be accepted.

Donations can be brought to the March 3, 2024 fundraiser.


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