My Experience Volunteering and Touring MedWish

by Julie on November 5, 2012

in Cleveland,Volunteering


I’m really excited to vote today. Just exercising the right to vote really makes me proud to be an American. I’m not a political person by nature, but I want to shed light to the fact that during this year, I’ve had so many awesome conversations with friends who are voting for someone different. They were enlightening, educational, and mature. It made me happy to be in a situation where I can express my beliefs and others show me respect for them. Whoever you choose to vote for today, I hope that you vote. Then, you can look back on this election 20 years from now and know that you made a difference and your voice was heard. Happy voting!



On Saturday, I had a unique opportunity to volunteer with MedWish. MedWish International is a Cleveland-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that recovers usable medical surplus from health care systems and gives those supplies to doctors, nurses, and humanitarians around the world who could use them to improve health care.

Reanna and Tracy were our guides and Amanda, Sarah, Stuart, his wife Julie, and I were in attendance. It was a small group and we had fun together!

Medwish Volunteering

Our first stop was talking to Dr. Lee Ponsky, who is the founder of MedWish. He explained how he founded MedWish and that it was something that happened out of his desire to make a difference. When he was in college, he took a trip to Ogbomosho, Nigeria and served as a medical assistant. In Nigeria, he witnessed first-hand the lack of medical supplies to assist with surgeries and other procedures. Ironically, in the United States, we throw away a lot of perfectly good medical surplus. For example, if I was getting surgery and the doctor requested 10 syringes, the nurses would set up the operating room and open up 10 sterile syringes for the doctor to use. But, the doctor may only use 6 of them and 4 would go to waste. Perfectly good syringes would just be thrown away. Dr. Ponsky realized this when he started MedWish and now, they have partnerships with a ton of area hospitals and facilities to not throw those “extra” supplies away. Instead, they donate them to MedWish and ship them internationally.

Medwish Founder

There are a lot of pictures in this post because I wanted to show you the warehouse and how many medical supplies they have collected. Words cannot really describe the depth of MedWish. This is truly a wonderful organization.

Medwish Cleveland

MedWish is a volunteer driven organization. They have about 12 employees and they use volunteers for donation, time, travel, and sponsorships.

Medwish Cleveland

Volunteers hard at work!

Medwish Cleveland

Medwish Cleveland

Sorting the supplies takes a lot of time. Volunteers are very much needed for this task. The most important part is for the supplies to be sorted in the right areas. If something is in the wrong place, it may be shipped to a place that didn’t request the item, and then it will be shipped back. It’s better to be done right the first time.

Medwish Cleveland

This is a picture of “hot items” that are always requested. In fact, there is a list of the top 10 most requested items that they never have in stock. There are items on that list that I’m surprised to see, like toothbrushes!

Medwish Cleveland

MedWish is also a working facility to individuals with disabilities and special needs. They are a vital component of MedWish and have valuable skills that help the organization run smoothly. MedWish provides them with work opportunities and training. For example, some of them do not know how to count, but they can sort using their visual spatial skills. This picture shows how someone can use spaces to sort different items, instead of counting 1-10. I love how MedWish not only provides opportunities internationally, but also right here in Cleveland.

These are cribs ready to be shipped to Tanzania.

Once the tour was over, it was time for our group to get to work! Our task was to organize Epidural Kits. We had bowls and buckets to sort the important items. Often times, not all of the items in medical kits are used. MedWish makes sure that the extra items are donated.

It took a few minutes to understand our task. We didn’t want to mess it up! Soon, we figured it out and worked efficiently as a team.

Medwish Cleveland

Our end result:

Medwish Cleveland

I had a GREAT time on Saturday morning!

Medwish Cleveland

A huge thank you goes out MedWish!

Medwish Cleveland

If you are interested in volunteering, I highly recommend it! Visit their website or email You can volunteer by yourself, with a friend, or even with a group. It’s actually a cool way to get friends together. They recommend that if you have a social group that wants to work together, email them ahead of time and they will come up with a group project for you and your friends.

On November 17, they are having an event called Huddle with MedWish! It will be at the Wickliffe Italian and American Club (29717 Euclid Avenue, Wickliffe, Ohio) at 6 pm. Tickets are only $25 and include dinner. Don’t forget to bring some spending money as they will be raffling off prizes all night! There will be a cash bar and a DJ. Buy tickets online or call 216-692-1685.

Also, Dix and Eaton has picked MedWish as a finalist for Dix and Eaton’s 60 for 60, which is a pro bono contest! VOTE for MedWish by “liking” the picture so they can win 60 hours of pro bono communications services.

I hope you enjoyed learning about MedWish! I can’t wait to go back and volunteer!



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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah @ Cooker Girl November 5, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Great write up about a wonderful organization! I look forward to volunteering again!
Sarah @ Cooker Girl´s last [type] ..Soup & Chili Roundup


Crystal @EatDrinkCleveland November 6, 2012 at 9:17 am

Great post! I love MedWish!! I toured them earlier in the year and was amazed at how BIG the warehouse is and how organized too!! Wish I could have been there but I was in C’bus for the weekend. I think we should all plan to go back again soon.


Amy G November 6, 2012 at 10:12 am

This sounds like a fantastic organization! Thanks so much for sharing.


Sana November 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Great post! Volunteering has been a huge part of my life and I love reading about the experiences that other people have :)
Sana´s last [type] ..Live For Something Higher,Bigger and Better Than You


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