Leslie McGuire is excited about her new job as director of U.S. Programs for AmeriCares. Her mission is to greatly increase the number of partnerships donating medical resources and supplies to those in poverty and uninsured in this country.
For an example, Ms. McGuire turns to Boehringer Ingleheim for assistance. “We can see our program in action right in Danbury,” she said. “Here you will find one of our free clinics on West Street. It is being backed financially by Boehringer Ingleheim and staffed by many qualified volunteers.”
It is just one of many AmeriCares clinics.
According to Ms. McGuire, “The United States presently has more than 400 free clinics for people in need, but that is nowhere near enough. Although the number of clinics tripled over the past two years, we still have to do better. Funding is our major source of income, but we also need donations of resources and volunteer help as well.”
Speaking to Ms. McGuire, you immediately notice the passion in her voice and the dedication to her cause. “When you work in a job where you are helping people who would not often get help, you are energized,” she said. “You want to go to work”
Moving here 10 years ago, Leslie McGuire was commuting to Columbia University where she was working as deputy director of a national teen screening program for mental health issues.
“My husband and I settled in Ridgefield after a lengthy search of towns in Westchester and Fairfield Counties. We were living in a studio apartment in New York City and wanted a special town in which to raise our children. We wanted a town that was not too big or too small and one that had a great education system and lots of activities for children. Ridgefield fit all of the criteria.”
Ms. McGuire’s first true service learning experience came when she was still a school girl. She had to do an internship at a residential center for children with mental health problems.
“After that internship, I knew my destiny was to help improve people’s lives through whatever efforts I could bring.”
“When I talk to teenagers, especially those in privileged communities, I talk about my early experience,” she said. “I also talk about not thinking the world is all about yourself, but rather about working and learning from people who are different and in need. I tell them not to just donate money, but to give of themselves through service.”
Ms. McGuire has her mission set out for her, but with her track record, who knows what else she may be able to accomplish. With a degree from Lafayette University and a master of science degree in social work from the University of Michigan, she never really worked as a social worker. Her work has always been more on the leadership level.
Adam Zayan, a vice president of AmeriCare’s Global Program summed it up, “We have a very ambitious plan to expand our aid deliveries to the underserved and Leslie McGuire has the knowledge and energy to do it.”