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Huntington Woman puts others before self.


Huntington In

Melissa is the Director of Katie’s Cure Foundation

Growing up, Melissa always knew that she had a purpose in life: she wanted to help others in any way that she possibly could. Melissa never let anything prevent her from volunteering in programs such as home health care, meal delivery, taking care of families, and cancer comfort kit delivery. The needs of others are put before her own. Melissa gives credit to her grandfather and father for modeling this for her when she was a child. She sees them as her true heroes and inspirational figures. Her grandfather would give you the "shirt right off of his back and the last cup of water that was left" without hesitation. She promised her grandfather years ago that she would always take care of others as he had. Melissa is instilling the same virtues in her boys and others that she comes in contact with. She always tries to see the best in everyone because, "If everyone can do that, then hopefully one day it can be given back if needed. It would be one big ball of giving back."

Family influences everything Melissa does. Her family and children keep her going. She has two biological children named Dylan and Ethan and also has an adopted son named Al whom she has, "adopted and taken under her wing." What formed Melissa into the strong, determined woman that she is today? She claims it is all due to an experience she had with her sick grandmother. For seven years, she cared for her before she passed away. It was one of the hardest things that she ever did, but was grateful for the opportunity. Many memories were formed during those years and she gained experience she would use later on in her volunteer work. Eventually, she found her way into working for home health care and thoroughly enjoys it.

When it comes to volunteer work, Melissa has a hard time saying no. Two different volunteer opportunities took her to Cazale, Haiti, and she is looking forward to going again in the near future. The first time she went was in 2015 with the organization Real Hope for Haiti our of St. Paul's County Line Church. While there, she had many different duties. The organization has an outpatient clinic in rural Cazale. It provides a variety of medical services to the surrounding communities including health care education, preventative medicine, prenatal care, primary care (treatment

Melissa at Cazale, Haiti

of infectious disease, hypertension, diabetes, malnutrition, etc.), limited emergency services, minor surgeries, wound care, and limited

lab services.

The clinic also dispenses medicines required for the treatment of the illness that is presented. If the clinic is unable to treat a patient due to the complexity of the case or lack of resources, the clinic refers the patients to a larger regional health center. The acting director of the clinic is Lori Moise, an RN from Indiana. She works as a nurse and provides emergency and wound care to patients. Lori is also responsible for managing the organizational aspects of the clinic such as hiring staff, monitoring staff performance, generating patient reports for the Haitian Government, corresponding with supporters to keep them aware of the needs, researching and applying for grants, and educating herself to better serve her patients. The clinic also employs four Haitian nurses to perform general consultations and provide patients with health care and nutritional education. In addition, the clinic also employs numerous support staff who assist in the clerical and organizational aspects of the clinic. There is also a vacation Bible School. Here they continue to work with the children who come in for care and they teach them about Jesus and his work here on earth. Melissa really enjoyed helping the children and the people there. The second time she went was a year later. She coordinated the trip herself with a team of four. She even took her youngest son with her. They thought that they would surprise the kids over there and take a huge bag of soccer balls. When they got over there, the kids were really happy. They held a three-day soccer camp. It wasn't long until they realized that Indiana soccer balls don't hold up very well in the rough terrain over there.

Wynkoop states that "it was such a great opportunity and an experience to visit a different country and culture and a way of life. It has opened my eyes and it really makes you appreciate what you have and to never take things for granted."

Another place that Melissa's volunteering has taken her to is Brunswick County, NC on Sept. 17, 2018. She was stationed at both the North Brunswick and West Brunswick shelters with the American Red Cross for Hurricane Florence. Those two were the hardest hit areas. Melissa's team was deployed for two weeks. While there, they flew in Black Hawk helicopters and surveyed the area from above. They all saw how devastating the flooding was and worked long hours each and every day to get what needed to be done completed.

Melissa says the hardest thing about being there was that she missed her youngest son's Senior Awards Night for soccer. Her son, Ethan, had been playing soccer since he was old enough to join the Pee Wee league, and Melissa was always there to support him.

She was so depressed and didn't know quite what do to. Melissa reached out to Greenbear Photography and explained the situation to him, and asked if there was any chance he could be there and take a few pictures of her son walking across the field. Melissa then contacted her mother, Janice, and Ethan's mentor, Ramiro Escamilla, to see if they could escort Ethan across the field. Both were happy to oblige. After all of that was taken care of, Melissa went to the Red Cross to ask for a favor. They set up a video stream via Skype in another sheltered area so she could watch the event. With tears streaming down her face, Melissa watched her son walk in one of the proudest moments of his and her lives.

Some of the devastation of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina

The volunteering does not stop with hurricane relief or home health care. One of the things that Melissa really enjoys is getting her family involved and delivering meals to the shut-ins on Thanksgiving Day for The Trinity Church. They have been doing this now for thirteen years. It started out with just a few family members, but now there are up to 12-15 members involved. She and her family give up their Thanksgiving so others can have a Thanksgiving.

Melissa is also the Director of Katie's Cure Foundation. She started the foundation shortly after her younger sister Katie was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in March of 2018. It is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to supporting those that are undergoing treatment. They strongly believe that "NO ONE FIGHTS ALONE!" Comfort Kits are filled with items the patient may need at treatment to help pass the time including a blanket, snacks, chapstick, hand sanitizer, and a little notebook. As of now, these Comfort Kits are being delivered to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne. Eventually, they would like to branch out to Riley Children's Hospital and to other local area hospitals. You can read more about this wonderful foundation and how you can help by going to

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