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Spring 2004 | Volume 26, Number 6 | Alumni

When Disaster Strikes

As Senior Development Officer for Northwest Medical Teams, Alum Helps Deliver Care to Those Who Need It Most

WHEN EVENING NEWS ANCHORS report world disasters such as flooding in Mozambique, earthquakes in Turkey or civil unrest in Albania, there’s a good chance that Northwest Medical Teams volunteers are already on site, thanks in part to the work of Dick Frederick ’63.

From pouring concrete floors in Mexico to treating burn victims in Moldova, volunteer teams dispatched by Dick Frederick ’63 serve some of the most impoverished regions of the world.  

The organization, which sends medical supplies and response teams comprised of nurses, physicians and other aid workers to countries worldwide, recently caught the eye of Forbes magazine. In the December 8, 2003, issue, Forbes identified Northwest Medical Teams as one of the nation’s top 10 charities for investors.

“Your credibility instantly climbs when an organization like Forbes recognizes you,” says Frederick, Northwest Medical Teams’ senior development officer. “This will definitely help us in our mission to demonstrate the love of Christ to people who are impacted by disaster and poverty.

”But when the emergency response organization was established in Portland, Oregon, in 1979 by founder Ron Post, there wasn’t any fanfare — just a vision to reach the world’s most needy. Frederick loves to tell the story. “Ron saw an image on television of a young Cambodian girl’s body in a rice paddy being picked up by an aid worker,” he says. “He looked over at his own healthy daughter and vowed to do something to help the world’s suffering.”

That is a vision Frederick says he can’t get out of his head. “One man — rather than flipping the channel, or grabbing a snack from the fridge — decided to make a difference,” says the former Seattle Pacific University alumni director, who left his post at his alma mater in 1996 to head the Northwest Medical Teams’ first Puget-Sound-area office.

Frederick says that leaving Seattle Pacific wasn’t an easy choice, but the call on his heart was real and pressing. Even more, it was Frederick’s personal way, he explains, of engaging the culture and changing the world.

Since its beginning, the organization has deployed more than 1,100 volunteer teams, and through a unique partnership with the Boeing Company, it has helped ship some $525 million in medical supplies around the world. But not all teams are made up of doctors and nurses — many are staffed by people of different occupations. One such group recently journeyed to Oaxaca, Mexico, to lay concrete floors in homes where children previously played on dirt.

Frederick notes that Northwest Medical Teams reaches people close to home, too. “Thanks to donated dental supplies and volunteer dentists and dental hygienists, the Mobile Dental Clinic program has served more than 12,000 patients in the Northwest who were without dental care,” he says.

What is the message Frederick wants to send to the SPU community? Simply stated: There is no limit to what one person can accomplish. “I will never stop being impressed by the impact people can have by giving of their time,” he says.


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Back to Campus

From the President
As today’s opinion-shapers declare the Christian message irrelevant, Seattle Pacific University President Philip Eaton reminds us: “For two billion people, the resurrection of Jesus Christ changed everything.”

“This Is Our Campaign”
Creativity and commitment are the hallmarks of faculty contributions, including finding precision science equipment and seeking grants. [Campaign]

Acting on AIDS
A student-led campaign encouraging a Christian response to a world pandemic had the campus seeing orange. [Campus]

Fact or Fiction?
A new Response department reviews the best-seller The Da Vinci Code. Why is this page-turner disturbing so many Christians? [Books & Film]

Looking Ahead
Falcon women keep their sights on a national championship after a perfect season ends too soon at the Elite Eight. [Athletics]

My Response
Nicaraguan native Maria Antonia Caldera Hunter ’89 tells of an SPU study tour to her homeland that showed her the presence of Christ in unlikely places.