AMIGA OF THE WEEK ~ Jillian Gerrity

Jillian Gerrity is currently serving a year and a half term of service at Amigos, where she has taken on the immense role of Medical Coordinator for our 130 kids. Since arriving at Amigos in July 2015, she has built the medical program from the ground up, transforming an old storage room into a clean and organized medical office for our kids' treatment. She has also worked to create an electronic database of all of our children's medical records, not to mention the countless other daily duties she performs to ensure all of our children stay healthy. In February 2017, Jillian will be returning to the U.S. to begin medical school. We don't know what we will do without her patience, work ethic, understanding, sense of humor, and most of all, boundless love for our kids. She will be missed!

Read below to learn more about Jillian:

  1. Age: 24
  2. Hometown: Sunnyvale, CA
  3. University: Santa Clara University
  4. Majors: Biology and Public Health Science with an emphasis in Biomedical Sciences
  5. What have been your main roles at Amigos de Jesús since you came in July 2015? Last year, my main role was serving as the health care coordinator, which included caring for the kids when they are injured or sick, making and attending check-ups and emergency medical appointments, setting up a telemedicine program with Holy Redeemer Hospital in Pennsylvania, and revamping the health documentation system at Amigos. Outside of my medical responsibilities, I was the assistant preschool teacher, taught science lab in the EducaTodos program of the Amigos school, helped with babysitting our younger kids on the 'hogar' (home) side of Amigos, and was assigned to one of the boys' dorms (the best one, in my opinion!) for hanging out and eating dinner at night.

    This year, I have continued in my role as the healthcare coordinator and especially focused on assessing the nutrition and meal plans, as well as working to get our kids' vaccinations up to date. Additionally, I lead a science experiment club in the new After School Activities program at the Amigos school, provide IT support, and have continued helping with babysitting and eating with my same boys dorm.
  6. How did you first hear about Amigos de Jesus? I had been involved in various volunteer activities growing up and I had long hoped to one day do long-term volunteer service abroad. The time between earning my undergraduate degree and pursuing medical school seemed like the best time and upon graduating, something just began pulling at me to finally take that leap. I began looking online at different programs and I came across Amigos de Jesus through Catholic Volunteer Network. I was drawn to the Amigos mission, and while I continued to research other programs, the more that I read, the more Amigos felt like the best fit.
  7. What were you doing before you came to Amigos de Jesús? I spent my first year post-graduation managing and conducting research in a molecular biology lab. I also privately tutored middle and high school students in the evenings.
  8. You extended your term of service from one year to a year and a half. What made you decided to stay longer? When I thought about returning home at the end of last year, I couldn't imagine a job that I would be as passionate about as what I do here. I knew there were still so many ways to challenge myself and continue experiencing personal growth here. I also knew I had more of myself that I wanted to give. I have realized that there will never be the "right" time to leave this place and it won't ever be easy, but extending my commitment here was one of the best decisions I've ever made. These final six months have been my favorite part of my time here so far.
  9. What is your favorite part of your job? Oh wow, there are so many! Overall, I'm constantly taken aback by the number of times each day that I step back and think, "I wish I could stop time and save this moment forever." Even in the midst of challenges here, I experience these types of moments throughout each day. For me, that is an incredible blessing.
  10. Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Amigos de Jesus? Again, too many!! One that stands out is New Year's Eve both last year and this year. There's nothing like bringing in the new year surrounded by over 100 kids and teens who all have firecrackers and sparklers in their hands. As the healthcare coordinator, it's a bit terrifying, but it's also exciting and fulfilling of my childhood pyro dreams!

Sometimes hugs are the best medicine.

Jillian accompanying three of our kids at a doctor's checkup.

The doctor says treats are okay every once in awhile...