“I was closely associated with Dr. Karen Rigamonti as one of the first volunteers at the “WeCan” facility which she started in the premises of the Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare Hospital in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. This was the first facility of its kind in the Eastern province (Dhahran and Dammam area) which catered to young adults with special needs with an operational structure relying on volunteers. It was indeed very courageous of her to commence, successfully staff and operate this facility in a culture and an environment that was very different from North America. I was a witness to the challenges that she had to surmount to get the facility going. These ranged from identifying a suitable location, furnishing and staffing the facility, obtaining government approval and then successfully communicating with needy families to arrange for appointments. In addition, when the facility started, the pandemic broke out within a few weeks, and it became almost impossible to keep the facility going. However, I closely observed how Karen despite all the challenges of COVID, could put in place, safety and social distancing measures, and keep the facility operational. I was truly amazed by her grit, positivity, and determination. I began relating to her as a person who can maintain her sangfroid in trying times and who does not get discouraged easily. Despite overwhelming odds, she took each day with the zest and excitement and managed to keep everyone on board enthused, and continue to contribute to the social cause that she holds so close to her heart.
It was absolutely a pleasure to work with Karen, and I wish our association could be longer because there was just so much to learn from her. I continue to work at the “WeCan” center and see the fruits of Karen’s work. Since the time she has left, the center has continued to flourish and serve the families most needy and deserving of the care it provides.”