PLATTSBURGH — Tom LaBombard set the example for his daughter, Nicole Groleau, to help the poor in Nicaragua through North Country Mission of Hope.
“He went three years ago for his first trip, and I went with him the last two years,” said Groleau, who lives in Waterford and is a respiratory therapist at the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center.
Her dad lives in Keeseville.
“I’m hoping we will both go back this year,” she said. “I always wanted to do this. I always wanted to go on a trip like this. I lived in Plattsburgh so long and didn’t realize that was happening right there.
“He told me he was going. I said I wanted to go. It was too late for me to sign up, so I had to wait until the following year.”
Mission of Hope, founded and based in Plattsburgh, has accomplished more than 50 missions of “hearts and hands working together to improve lives” in Nicaragua, as its mission statement says.
This year marks the group’s 15th anniversary.
The commemoration kicks off today with Prayers for Plattsburgh, an interfaith prayer vigil for Plattsburgh and the North Country, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Macdonough Monument.
Attendees are invited to bring a food-bank donation, any new household/toiletry item, diapers or used cellphones to be donated to the Interfaith Food Shelf, the Salvation Army or STOP Domestic Violence in Plattsburgh.
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In Nicaragua, the tasks LaBombard, Groleau and, over the years, hundreds of other volunteers have done include building home shelters for the poor and improving hospitals, orphanages and a disability center.
“We did all kinds of stuff,” Groleau said of her own experiences. “We did some medical exams for some of the nuns, basically blood pressure and listen to their lungs. A lot of them had respiratory problems. I talked to them about different breathing techniques they could do.”