Poverty, low income, lack of employment, and poor or no access to health care are factors that create stressful living environment and consequently, can cause numerous negative health effects. People lacking a consistent source of health care are less likely to receive preventive health services, such as routine check-ups and screening for chronic conditions. As a result, diseases and illnesses are often worse by the time low-income or uninsured patients seek treatment. These circumstances can be even more complex without the support of society. Manos Juntas was founded in response to this situation.
Dr. Boyd Shook, whose awareness and concern for the large number of uninsured people and the high cost of healthcare in the United States; his desire to help the underprivileged; and his passion for Internal Medicine with more than 50 years of experience, was motivated to start the non-profit organization Manos Juntas.
Kathy McCallie, whose perseverant dedication to help the poor and as a Ministry of the Epworth Methodist Church, proposed to her father to join hands to create Manos Juntas.
Dr. Shook and Kathy participated for the first time in a Medical Mission Trip to Nicaragua with the Community of Hope Church group in 1994. This was a life changing experience for him and his daughter. They visited remote rural communities where they saw extreme levels of poverty, the lack of basic human needs such as clean water, nutrition, health care, clothing, and shelter. It was hard to believe that a vast majority of the Nicaraguan population struggled to survive on little more than US$1 per day. They were there and saw the cruel reality.
After they returned to the United States, their experiences in Nicaragua inspired them to continue medical work within their own community in Oklahoma City. The poverty levels between the places are not comparable, but the need for accessible health care among the uninsured, the unemployed, and the undocumented immigrants was growing. In 1995, a year after the trip to Nicaragua, they opened the doors of a free medical clinic in the basement of the Epworth Methodist Church.
During the medical mission trips to Nicaragua, Dr. Shook and Kathy also realized that many children and young people are faced with high risk of educational underachievement. Poverty drastically affects children's success in school. Their lack of health care or poor health care ultimately results in many absences from the academic year. They are much more likely to suffer from hunger, fatigue, infections, diarrhea, flu, and colds. Moreover, many of them are forced to work in order to bring home a bite to eat. All of these circumstances are causes to restrict the students' concentration that also makes them drop out school. Dr. Shook and Kathy wanted to do something for these kids and decided to create the Manos Juntas Scholarship Program.
During the first 3 years Manos Juntas started their three main programs: Medical and Construction Mission Trips to Nicaragua, Free Medical Clinic, and the Scholarship Program. In 1997, Fundación Manos Juntas became officially incorporated as a non-profit organization. Since then, Manos Juntashas joined hands with volunteers and friends to reach a hand to those in need.