CAMO puts the fun in fundraising to help others

CAMO puts the fun in fundraising to help others

This marks the 11th year for Salsa Sizzle. The proceeds will fund CAMO projects and development endeavors in Central America.


Salsa Sizzle will be Saturday, Aug. 24 from 6-11 p.m. at Greystone Event Center in Wooster. It is the key fundraiser for Central American Medical Outreach, a nonprofit organization delivering medical services and supplies, education, and community development to Central America. CAMO was founded in 1993 by Kathryn Tschiegg after a stint in the Peace Corp.

“Salsa Sizzle is, above all, meant to be a big, fun party,” Tschiegg said. “We like to put the fun in fundraiser. It’s not a sit-down, stuffy affair at all. It’s meant for people to be up and mingling and having a good time.”

Salsa Sizzle will feature live Latin jazz music, dancing, plenty of Latin-inspired food, a celebrity bartending contest, prizes and giveaways, and silent and live auctions. Tickets for the event are $45 and available online at This marks the 11th year for Salsa Sizzle.

“CAMO is not built on the model often in operation in aiding places in distress,” Tschiegg said. “We aren’t in and out. We have a consistent presence there. And we take a very different approach. We help with real development of local resources. We train people how to do things for themselves. It’s a long-term approach rather than applying a Band-Aid.”

Tschiegg said she discovered at the outset of CAMO’s beginning that the greatest need in impoverished Central America, Honduras specifically, was medical supplies and equipment. “It was dire,” she said. “There are people and doctors, but you can’t just treat people with your fingernails or something. You have to have equipment.”

CAMO ships nine 40-foot containers of medical supplies to Central America each year, each containing more than $300,000 worth of much needed medical aid.

“The supplies are fed into 18 programs we have developed there over the last 26 years,” Tschiegg said. “About 160,000 people get the help they need. We developed the largest public-health and cultural centers in the region, serving families and children in extreme poverty. We are growing every year and have collaborative agreements with city governments there. People are getting access to the only health care they will ever see in their lives.”

CAMO built the region’s largest domestic violence and abuse shelter in the 1990s as well.

All this aid is delivered at a fraction of the actual value, about 10 percent. “Since we’re there all the time, we get a much better understanding of the overall picture and its implications. We can develop what is already there, making use of local resources for far less than can be accomplished here in the U.S. They’re seeing Honduran doctors and working with people who understand the culture and the challenges people are facing,” Tschiegg said.

There are two approaches to helping the region, one of which is much less effective and more costly. “We can step up our game,” Tschiegg said, “and help people get care where they are, or we can wait until a truly disastrous situation develops and we are forced to care for them here as refugees in a far less cost-effective way, which becomes a much, much bigger problem for everyone.”

Proceeds from Salsa Sizzle will fund CAMO projects and development endeavors in Central America. “It helps us get the supplies and equipment and continue the programs we have in place,” Tschiegg said.

Salsa Sizzle’s primary event sponsors include Ron Taggart, Briggs Financial Group, AECOS, HSH Outdoor Advertising, and Stephen and Cheryl Shapiro.

Greystone Event Center is at 50 Riffel Road in Wooster.

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