global links

Global Links is changing lives locally and globally – and you can help

Remarkable things happen in a real-life Pittsburgh neighborhood every day at a place called Global Links, and this article will give you a window into the ways you can get involved. But I should start by telling you: I originally found my way there because of Pittsburgh’s most famous imaginary neighborhood.   

Have you ever watched the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” or seen the TV show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”? As many Pittsburghers know, Fred Rogers was a pioneer in children’s media. Using puppet stories set in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and his real-life conversations with friends and neighbors, he inspired people of all ages to be kind, have self respect, chase their dreams, and always be imaginative. 

When I was a kid, I loved watching “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” I felt like I truly belonged and lived in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. He had a way of transporting you out of your living room and into a real adventure with learning experiences. Through his puppet shows, tours and so much more, I discovered  the world around me. He even made a lot of scary things seem not as scary by teaching us how to understand why those things happen. 

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Mister Rogers, which is very famous: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” 

At Global Links, every single person is a helper. 

This Pittsburgh-based nonprofit is dedicated to saving medical surplus – things like surgical supplies, wheelchairs and more – from ending up in landfills and instead getting these important items into the hands of healthcare workers to improve health in communities with need. Their funding comes from donations, corporation sponsorships, and grants, and they rely in large part on the work of volunteers in order to achieve their mission.

global links

I’ve had the chance to volunteer there, and recently I got the opportunity to talk with Stacy Bodow, the Outreach and Engagement Manager at Global Links about all of the amazing things they do to improve the health and wellbeing of people all around the world and in our community. 


Global Links has plenty of International Medical Aid programs, located in regions across Latin America and the Caribbean, providing funding for health improvement initiatives in areas with limited resources. They are heavily involved in disaster recovery and improving public health – particularly mothers’ and infants’ health. 

global links
These beds, no longer needed in dorms at Duquesne, are now at a home for pregnant women and new mothers in Nicaragua. Photos courtesy of Global Links.

Here’s one example: A local company called Radnor Property Group needed to get rid of hundreds of bed frames and mattresses from St. Martin’s Hall at Duquesne University in order to remodel the dorm.

The beds were still in excellent shape. So Radnor chose to donate them to Global Links, where the mattresses and bed frames were thoroughly cleaned and then shipped to maternal homes in Latin America for use. Many moms in nations like Nicaragua and Honduras travel hours to give birth. These beds and mattresses helped support homes in Nicaragua where mothers can deliver their babies and rest both pre- and post-partum. 

This medical center in Tapacari, Bolivia, operates with supplies received via Global Links.

Many of us in Pittsburgh never worry about whether we can get medical care. When I had a bike accident as a 4th grader, I never had to worry about whether I was going to get better, because I knew I would be able to go to the hospital with my parents and a doctor would help me heal.

However, for a lot of people in the world, such as the people in Tapacari, Bolivia, that’s not the case. A Community Health Care Center (CHCC) in Tapacari was unable to open because the public health authorities didn’t have enough money to fund it. Once Global Links learned about this issue, they donated beds and other necessary medical equipment. 

“This is the first time that Tapacari has received this type of help,” says Dr. Marco Antonio Adrian Tarqui, Medical Director at the CHCC in Tapacari. “It is so important [to have adequate equipment] for more remote places because patients walk three to four hours to reach this health center.” 

Global Links supports equity in access to healthcare, which should be a fundamental human right. 


At Global Links, I was assigned to sort medical equipment into different boxes. That taught me about the types of medical equipment that go into each category. For example, masks and gloves go into the general use section, whereas a surgical tool would go into a different section. I had a lot of fun learning about all of the medical terminology and different types of medical equipment. After a while, I almost felt like I knew enough to see patients as an actual doctor! 

This volunteer program is an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to work in the medical field, but it’s important to note that anyone can volunteer at Global Links. My personal favorite part of volunteering was the wheelchair workshop, where we repurposed so many wheelchairs by taking the good parts of broken wheelchairs and creating new, usable ones.

There are so many ways to contribute to Global Links’ missions, because they have new volunteer opportunities for upcoming projects all the time. You might sort medical equipment, pack equipment for shipment or take part in their Personal Care Project. 

Personal Care Projects: This is something everyone can do to help out people in the community. Kids can learn about the importance of hygiene by  helping their parents collect and organize all the materials on the list, things like soap, toothpaste, shampoo, floss, deodorant, moisturizer, mouthwash, hand sanitizer, wipes, etc. 

Who can volunteer? : People 16 years of age or older are eligible to volunteer without an adult, while those aged 12 to 16 years can volunteer with a parent or teacher. Volunteer hours are usually in two-hour segments from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.. And kids of all ages can help their families create the Personal Care packages. 

Click here to learn more and sign up to volunteer. 

Annually, Global Links improves more than 1.6 million lives. It’s extremely inspirational to think about the positive impact they have on people in so many different ways, locally and globally Global Links also supports UN Sustainable Development Goals 3, 6, 11, 12, and 17. 

Global Links is an organization of helpers, and by volunteering, you too can help make a difference in the lives of people throughout the world as well as in your local community.