Article written by Loudoun Chamber Intern, Emma Royce
INMED is celebrating their 25th anniversary! I visited INMED’s headquarters in Sterling earlier this Summer and had the chance to sit down with CEO Dr. Linda Pfeiffer, Marketing Director Nancy Baker, and International Staff Member Alexandra South. We got to talk about the history of INMED and how they help the Loudoun community. An international nonprofit, their primary focus in Loudoun is to assist low-income individuals and help break the cycle of poverty in families. The acronym INMED was originally International Medical Services for Health, and today represents the continuity and evolution that is INMED Partnerships for Children.
Dr. Pfeiffer says she first saw a need to help others while on an archaeological dig in Mexico in the 1980s. She mentions that there was a “missing link” between getting families the medications they needed and ensuring that the correct drugs were being administered due to the language barrier between English and Spanish. Dr. Pfeiffer shakes her head when thinking about the near-fatal miscommunications, and says she is grateful to have helped intervene when she did. After helping train locals to translate and understand the medications being donated in their area, Dr. Pfeiffer would move forward in training people across all 50 states, Canada, and Australia to ensure that their communities were getting the medical help they needed.
Within Loudoun, INMED takes pride in its Healthy Families Program. This is to assist in preventing child abuse and neglect, help parents obtain the resources they need such as work and resume preparation, and also provide English as a Second Language classes. Dr. Pfeiffer says there is a tremendous need in Loudoun for resources for those who are homeless or running single-parent households. She states that part of INMED’s vision is to take each individual person in need and help them as much as possible. This includes case by case management and advocating for those who are losing their homes, educating young mothers who need resources for prenatal care, and guiding parent education groups that meet twice a month.
INMED Loudoun also specializes in providing after-school programs for up to 40 children at a time. While I visited the Opportunity Center, you could hear the shrieks and running feet of the energetic children roving about the classrooms and playing with their friends. INMED assists over 2000 individuals who utilize come through their programs annually, and many of those clients are kids. Each child is first assessed based upon their individual needs and then volunteers and counseling teams work with the children towards bolstering their self-confidence, encouraging physical exercise, practicing mindfulness, and providing homework help.
When asked for one of her favorite success stories, Dr. Pfeiffer smiled and told me about a 1st grade girl who was experiencing trouble at home. Her dad was incarcerated and her mom trying to juggle two jobs while providing for her daughter. The girl began to fail in her classes at school because of the stress in her household and was then brought to INMED to get some help. INMED was able to successfully tutor her through her classes, support the mom in obtaining a stable housing situation, and assist the young girl in making friends and gaining self-confidence. She graduated from INMED’s program and is currently stable and loving life with her mother in 2019.
Dr. Pfeiffer explains that INMED also looks to help countries around the world by providing education about sustainable agriculture. One of these ways is to introduce communities to the process of aquaponics, which is the ingenuity of combining hydroponics and fish farming to ensure that there is enough food for the area throughout the year.
While this concept goes slightly over my head, Dr. Pfeiffer explained that without aquaponics, several areas around the world would not be able to acquire proper nutrition for their communities due to drought and other natural impactors. International Staff Member Alexandra South adds that if there is healthy food provided to a community, INMED can then focus on the entire lifecycle of children at risk, beginning from maternal child health all the way to adulthood.
Marketing Director Nancy Baker took me through a tour of The Opportunity Center and it was a delight to see it for myself. INMED has an expansive library, kitchen, and lockers for each of the after school children with their names posted in bright colors. Each hallway is well lit, and the staff and volunteers I met with were smiling and seemed genuinely invested in the kids.
The Opportunity Center offers classes such as basic guitar lessons, STEM classes, math tutoring, reading help, cooking classes for both children and adults, yoga, and nutrition for the community.
My time at INMED was very enlightening. It was a privilege to see the good work that they are doing both locally and internationally, and I left with a full heart knowing that such great people are helping our Loudoun community. INMED is continuously looking for volunteers to help in a number of areas, be it speaking to the children about their respective profession, helping with child care, monitoring after-school programs, and tutoring. If you and your business would like to volunteer or donate, please contact INMED’s Volunteer Coordinator, Yahaira Hanon at email@example.com or 571-465-5996.
INMED’s 25th Anniversary Celebration will be held September 15th from 12 – 4 p.m. at Dulles Golf Center. Congratulations!