WORLDWIDE CHILDREN'S FOUNDATION OF NEW YORK
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC co-founders James Cavello and Margarite Almeida have a philanthropic philosophy, having served as co-founders and leaders for many non-profit boards. The causes they support include the arts, education, health, and community service.
From 2005-2017 they served on the Executive Board of Worldwide Children’s Foundation of New York, a non-profit 501(c)(3) dedicated to providing life-saving and life-altering surgeries for children in need around the world, regardless of country, race, gender or religious belief. James and Margarite were hands-on for each case and managed the medical care, host families, documentation, fund raising, and loving support required from beginning to completion of every child’s case.
THE CASE OF SHARIF
A 3-year-old boy in Burkina Faso was diagnosed by a local physician with atrial septal defect, also known as, ‘a hole in the heart.’ Sharif’s doctor was concerned the young boy would not survive due to the severity of his medical condition. Sharif’s village did not have a hospital capable of managing the surgery. Through a communication network of doctors on the ground and surgeons in New York City, Sharif’s medical case was identified immediately for Worldwide Children’s Foundation of New York. WWCFNY managed the process of obtaining medical records, making arrangements with hospitals and surgeons in NYC, obtaining a medical visa, purchasing airline tickets, arranging for a local guardian to accompany Sharif, arranging a short stay NYC host family and organizing room and board at Ronald McDonald House on 73rd street. Within a couple of weeks, Sharif was on a flight to New York City. He and his guardian were met at the airport by James, Margarite and several other WWCFNY board members, who welcomed him with open arms. Sharif was happy to be on an adventure, but after a few days the surgery date was moved up due to his belabored breathing. Sharif received heart surgery from Dr. Samuel Weinstein at Children's Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx. For over a decade, Dr. Weinstein provided several heart surgeries for WWCFNY children, including a 13-month old baby from Dominican Republic shortly after Sharif’s surgery. As he recovered, Sharif could breathe easier and became more active, resulting in his desire to play with other children at Ronald McDonald House. After the final clearance of follow up care, Sharif and his guardian were back on a plane to Burkina Faso, where his parents were relieved and grateful to have their healthy child back home.
Over the years WWCFNY brought children to NYC for surgeries, from Albania, Guatemala, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and many other countries. The diversity of New York City allowed for volunteers who could assist with language, short term hosting, medical translation, and cultural understanding. Ronald McDonald House on 73rd Street was a lifeline for housing, love and family support, as almost all of the parents had never been to New York City, or had never before traveled abroad. However, they adapted quickly with a common goal, for their child to be healthy and happy.
The WWCFNY families expressed their overwhelming gratitude for an organization who would care enough to help them and their child in need of medical care. There are many other non-profit organizations throughout the world with a similar mission, and it is extraordinary to know the work they tirelessly provide.
Worldwide Children's Foundation of New York thanks all the donors, surgeons, physicians, hospitals, medical professionals, families, staff, board of directors, volunteers, advisors and everyone who made it possible to provide life-saving and life-altering surgeries from WWCF of New York. We pass the torch to other incredible organizations and caring people who save and/or alter the lives of children for the better, whether globally or in our communities.
To read about selected stories of hope, please visit https://www.wwcfny.org/stories-of-hope.