The impetus for the Foundation occurred in 2009 when Chris Pantuso, Founder and Executive Director, was assisting his men’s group from church in building a wheelchair ramp for a mobile home in San Antonio, Texas. Upon successful completion, the resident was overly appreciative. When Chris commented, “this is what we’re supposed to do – help each other,” the woman’s tears revealed her true level of desperation and relief.
After calming herself, she mentioned that the ramp was not for her; rather, it was for her mother – a diabetic amputee – who had been confined to the master bedroom due to her inability to leave her home. To make matters worse, the woman revealed that her mother had not been to see a doctor for several years. This did not sit well with Chris given his Christian beliefs.
As a young child, Chris often heard his maternal grandmother, Mabel Moreau, state that “life is service.” Mabel lived her life according to Christ’s Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have done unto you). Mabel’s kind and gentle nature served as a guide for young Chris as she taught him to have respect and to show compassion for others. With Mabel’s words ringing in his ears, Chris was not satisfied with simply building a single ramp for one family. He felt compelled to do more for those in need. After reading John Kasich’s Courage Is Contagious: Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things To Change The Face Of America, Chris was motivated by the story of Dr. Jack McConnell and his work at the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. With this clinic model in mind, Chris founded The Calabria Foundation, named for the province of Italy from which his paternal ancestors originate.
With a seasoned group of medical professionals, The Calabria Foundation is poised to tackle the systemic problem of treating the uninsured and underinsured healthcare needs of our fellow citizens.