Kathie and Peter were originally introduced to Mercy Ships years ago at a church service. They were so inspired by what they heard, they knew that they wanted to be involved—the Mercy Ships message spoke to their hearts. At the time, they were parents to two young children, Mary Elizabeth and Dennis. Both children, now young adults, have had complicated medical issues since birth. The Connellys remembered thinking that their children have benefited from the best medical care the world has to offer and imagining the hardship and sorrow of those not able to obtain adequate medical care. Their involvement began when they spoke to Don Stephens. He said he could use them right where they were to build and grow Mercy Ships presence in New England.
The Connellys recruit medical and non-medical volunteers for Mercy Ships programs. They also raise money and awareness by speaking at hospitals, Rotary Clubs, schools and churches. The recruits include surgeons for the ship’s core competencies: orthopedics, ophthalmology, dental and women’s issues. Kathie, herself a critical care nurse, feels at home speaking directly with these health care professionals. When speaking to recruits following their volunteer assignment, Kathie remarks that the common response from the participants is that the experience was so profound that their lives will never be the same.