A Dover woman leaves the ‘safe bubble’ to work in Honduras

In three months, 26-year-old Rachel Foltz will fulfill a dream and a calling when she leaves her full-time job, family and friends to move to Honduras. The daughter of Jeff and Elise Foltz of Dover will lead a branch of Central American Medical Outreach, a nonprofit, nondenominational, Christian humanitarian organization bringing lifesaving medical services, education and community development to Central America.

Foltz, who has served as a physical therapy assistant at the Devine Hall of Fame Nursing and Rehabilitation for the past five years, made her first trip to the small village of Subirana on a missionary tour with her church in 2009.

“We live in this safe bubble,” she said. “Three trips to the poorer parts of Honduras during my school days radically changed my view of what life is really about.

“Most of the residents are coffee farmers or small shopkeepers. We helped build in the morning and held Bible school in the afternoon. In the evenings, my father and I and another father-daughter couple visited the houses and got to know the people. We found her cheerful, full of faith and family love.”

She joked that as a teenager she thought she could make a living off peanut butter and not have to eat the local food.

“The airline confiscated my glass and I thought I was probably going to starve,” she said, “but what a surprise when I found a glass of Jiff at the local shop. I actually tried food and found I liked it, except maybe for the iguana.”

Foltz has three goals in Honduras: train doctors and nurses in advanced CPR and ultrasound techniques, and provide medical equipment for the local hospital. She has signed a contract to lead the Yoro Project under the auspices of CAMO, hoping to ultimately help Honduras become self-sustaining. During her first trip back to the country with CAMO, Foltz said she taught nurses how to use physical therapy to get their patients out of bed and moving.

“As I saw the impact of CAMO, I wanted to make a difference for generations and began praying for guidance in my calling,” she said. “My prayers have been answered, so here I am.”

None of this is easy, as Foltz is responsible for raising $40,000 to cover her vehicle and living expenses for the duration of the project. While speaking locally and receiving some private donations, she is hoping to raise a majority of the money during the CAMO Yoro Golf Scramble on Sunday, August 21 at Oak Shadows Golf Club. The event includes a continental breakfast, lunch and awards. There is a hole-in-one contest for $5,000 cash prizes, 18-hole golf course with cart, strip steak lunch, raffles and drawings. The cost for a four-person scramble is $100 per golfer. Companies can sponsor all activities. For online registration and sponsorship options, visit camo.org/yoro-project. If you have any questions, contact Foltz at [email protected] or 330-691-1527.

There is still a long way to go from Foltz’s beginnings to answering her call.

“I grew up in my car seat at my dad’s vet clinic,” she said. “Mom worked at the front desk so there was no one watching me. Dad was such a good teacher. In elementary school I did show-and-tell x-rays, watched surgeries and learned animal anatomy and made 911 calls with him. He gave me my love of medicine. I would definitely become a vet. But in my sophomore year, I took a human anatomy class and watched the athletic coach rehabilitate injured players. I could serve as a training assistant, and I knew I wanted to do that. When I was 16 I had to tell dad I wanted to be a physical therapist instead of a vet. My grandfather, Don Foltz, a physical therapist at Union Hospital, encouraged me to mentor workers at Health Plex, I went to North Central State College in Mansfield and immediately began working on site.

“It’s certainly a huge leap from the most exciting thing in my life to be a member of Dover’s state volleyball team to help the desperately poor and forgotten live a better life,” Foltz said. “I am taking online Spanish courses and preparing to simplify. I’m not sure how long this particular project will take, but I imagine it will be my life from now on.”

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