My volunteering revolves around giving a voice to those who all too often don’t have one. I can’t imagine anything more gratifying.
A native Texan, Francesca learned her love of stories from her mother, author Elizabeth Black, who will be joining her on the cruise. After studying English at the University of Texas San Antonio, Francesca oversaw the preservation of a private library at Yale University before returning home to the South. Today, she is rewriting the story of healthcare in her city as Chief Operating Officer of San Antonio's Patient Institute, where she helps patients navigate the intricacies of the healthcare system through free workshops and seminars. Her goal, says Francesca, "is to give a voice to those who all too often don't have one."
Her passion for health extends into her volunteer work. While serving as the Associate Executive Director of San Antonio's Holocaust Memorial Museum, Francesca worked with the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, meeting young victims and their families at the hospital to offer counseling and administrative help. She filled out forms, guided them through various support options, and tried to make the ordeal manageable. "These cases were often gut-wrenching," says Francesca, "but it was incredibly rewarding to help a family imagine life and happiness after the trauma."
Francesca has an equally long history volunteering with Kinetic Kids, an after-school sports program for kids with physical and mental disabilities. Whether working one-on-one or guiding larger groups, she helps these kids gain confidence, learn teamwork, and develop a positive outlook, whatever their disability. This year, Francesca is guiding a special group of kids through their first musical theater performance.
Francesca also sits on the Advisory Board of Medic Mobile, a program far off the beaten path. Medic Mobile collects old and broken mobile phones through their Hope Phones initiative and recycles them. The phones go to people in developing countries, many of whom live one hundred miles from the nearest hospital. Empowered with a phone, community health workers can transmit personal medical data to medical facilities far away - with a single text. When patients can't physically visit the hospital, the phones let them get consults remotely. Says Francesca: "Simply put, Medic Mobile's system saves lives."