AmeriCares Foundation, Inc.
AmeriCares Foundation, Inc.
88 Hamilton Avenue
Stamford, Connecticut 06902
U.S.A. Telephone: (203) 658-9500
Toll Free: (800) 486-4357
Fax: (203) 327-5200
Web site: http://www.americares.org
Incorporated: 1979 as Americares Foundation, Inc.
Operating Revenues: $1.32 billion (2006)
NAIC: 624230 Emergency and Other Relief Services
AmeriCares Foundation, Inc., is one of the top disaster-relief and humanitarian-aid organizations in the world. The majority of the Connecticut-based nonprofit’s activities support permanent, ongoing healthcare programs in more than 50 countries, but the organization is best known for being the first on the ground when a major disaster strikes anywhere on the planet. With only a small number of paid employees, AmeriCares operates on the energy of hundreds of volunteers; the donations of medicines, medical supplies, and other relief materials from pharmaceutical companies and other corporations; and annual cash contributions from more than 150,000 individual and corporate donors. The group constantly collects donated supplies and stores them in two warehouses, one in the United States and one in Europe. When a need arises, it charters the cheapest and most appropriate means of air or sea transport and delivers the goods for distribution by one of many of its local partners on the ground, which include the International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent, the Order of Malta, and Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. AmeriCares’ key domestic programs include Camp AmeriKids, AmeriCares Free Clinics, Inc., and AmeriCares HomeFront.
When 55-year-old Robert C. Macauley officially established Americares in 1979, he was no stranger to helping the needy. In 1968, he founded the Shoeshine Boys Foundation, a charitable organization that operated in Saigon, Vietnam, and by the war’s end had established 14 homes and given help to over 2,500 Vietnamese war orphans. On April 4, 1975, just weeks before the fall of Saigon, a U.S. jet carrying 243 war orphans bound for adoption in the U.S. crashed into the jungle outside Tan Son Nhut, killing a third of the children and critically injuring many more. When the Pentagon said it could not get help to the crash site for 11 days, Macauley sprung into action. As a private citizen, he arranged to have a Pan American Airlines 747 diverted from Guam to rescue the children and fly them to San Francisco. The $50 million paper mill that he founded a few years earlier, Virginia Fibre Corporation, was still deeply in debt, so when Pan Am sent the $251,000 bill for the jet, Macauley was forced to hock his house to the bank to cover the expense.
The year 1981 brought the fledgling nonprofit, tax-exempt Americares Foundation its first real mission. Macauley, who is not a Catholic, was summoned to a private meeting in Rome with Pope John Paul II. The pope asked Macauley if he could find a way to get some medicines, clothing, and other supplies into Poland, the pope’s native country, which at the time was under martial law. In March 1982, Americares airlifted drugs and supplies into Poland valued at $2.4 million. The Roman Catholic Church handled distribution and a representative from Americares filmed the operation from beginning to end. The organization’s inaugural relief operation established Americares’ hallmark recipe for future success: leverage Macauley’s business and personal connections to secure donated relief supplies, money, and volunteer time, while keeping costs low and maintaining tight control over distribution.
Macauley was well connected. He was born in Connecticut and attended Andover Academy and Yale University, where he studied international affairs. He had been a classmate and friend since kindergarten of George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States. Macauley’s newly chartered organization’s list of sponsors included ambassadors and corporate executives as well as Christian and Jewish religious leaders. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Polish-born national security adviser to former President Jimmy Carter, signed on as honorary chairman of the board of directors. When approaching the nation’s top drug and medical supply companies for handouts, Macauley later recounted, “Either I knew someone on their boards or I knew someone who did.” Macauley kept organizational costs down by working without compensation, often with weekend help from his wife, Leila, and son, Robert, Jr.
In August 1982, Americares cosponsored a $1 million shipment of medical supplies to Lebanon, another country torn by civil conflict. The distribution of supplies locally was handled by the Knights of Malta and marked the beginning of a long-term relationship between the two organizations. Founded in 1050 to aid the wounded and to battle Muslims during the Crusades, the devoutly Roman Catholic Sovereign Military Order of Malta, known as the Knights of Malta, is the world’s only recognized sovereign nation without territory. In 1982, it had over 10,000 members and ambassadors in 40 countries. Affiliation with the Order of Malta meant that medical aid could be moved through diplomatic “pouches” into target countries without going through customs. Before 1982 was over, Americares had airlifted and transported by ship another $2 million worth of medical supplies to Poland, and had also provided humanitarian relief work in India.
In 1983, Americares and the Knights of Malta started shipping medical supplies to Central America. Prescott Bush, Jr., brother of then vice-president George H. W. Bush, and former Treasury Secretary William E. Simon, both Americares board members, helped Macauley raise funds and obtain free medicine for the effort. Americares expanded its work in southwest Asia in 1983 when it began sending medical supplies to Afghan refugees in Pakistan who had been uprooted by fighting between the Soviet-backed Afghan government and insurgents.
In May 1984, the organization was given the President’s Volunteer Action Award for International Humanitarianism from President Ronald Reagan. In August, Americares facilitated the flight of seven wounded Afghan rebels to the United States for treatment, and by November, had delivered about $5 million in medical supplies to the Afghan rebels. By December 1984, Americares had sent over $14 million in medical aid to Central America, primarily to the two countries where U.S.-backed governments were battling rebel insurgencies. About $10 million in aid went to hospitals and clinics in El Salvador and $3.4 million to Guatemala. At the time, all officials denied that Americares and the Knights had any political involvement in the region. For the year, the organization shipped $20 million in supplies on a budget of only $600,000. The group had only one paid employee, a secretary/bookkeeper.
AmeriCares is a nonprofit disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization. It provides immediate response to emergency medical needs, as well as supports long-term humanitarian assistance programs for all people around the world, irrespective of race, creed or political persuasion.
In 1985, Americares sent food, medicine, and other relief supplies to Ethiopia and Sudan, where more than one million people had already died from famine. In the same year, Americares and the Knights of Malta in the Philippines began a partnership to support hospitals, clinics, homes for the elderly, and orphanages throughout the country. In May 1985, Americares, the Knights, and the Christian Broadcasting Company announced they were teaming up to send an additional $20 million of humanitarian aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. An earthquake in Mexico City in September followed by a volcanic eruption in Colombia also brought relief efforts to the area from the organization.
The April 26, 1986, Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Soviet Union prompted Americares to send milk products, iodine tablets, and other aid to Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine to alleviate problems created by radioactive fallout. The organization responded to an October earthquake in El Salvador with its largest disaster relief operation to date, and during the course of the year expanded its ongoing Central American relief efforts to Nicaragua and Panama. It was at about this time that the organization changed the typography in its name from Americares to AmeriCares. In June 1987, Macauley was referred to in the media as a “one-man Red Cross.” His organization had, since its birth, distributed $140 million worth of medicine and supplies around the world.
In April 1988, AmeriCares launched its HomeFront division. HomeFront’s main task was to organize and coordinate an annual one-day volunteer-driven project that provided free home repairs for people with special needs. The first HomeFront event drew 300 volunteers and took place in South Norwalk, Connecticut. AmeriCares responded to a December 7 earthquake in Armenia with a December 23 airlift of emergency aid, which was accompanied by John E. “Jeb” Bush, son of president-elect George H. W. Bush. In 1989, Doctors To All Peoples was formed by AmeriCares to set up a clinic in the Armenian capital of Yerevan and to facilitate the medical care and rehabilitation of December earthquake victims in hospitals in New York and Connecticut.
Following a devastating earthquake in June 1990, an AmeriCares-sponsored cargo jet containing a medical team and 40 tons of supplies became the first shipment of U.S. aid accepted by Iran since the hostage crisis of 1979–80, when 52 Americans were held at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran for 444 days. When the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in August and the run-up to the 1991 Gulf War caused thousands in the region to flee their homes, AmeriCares sent food, water, and medicine to refugee camps in Iran, Turkey, and Jordan. In December, the group became the first American charity to send supplies to relieve widespread shortages in the Soviet Union and pledged to deliver one million tons of food and medicine.
In March 1991, the private relief group airlifted medical supplies, and medical personnel from the White House staff and the Mayo Clinic, into Kuwait City, just days after that city was liberated from Iraqi occupation by a U.S.-led multinational military force. In May, an AmeriCares medical team was forced to abandon a health clinic in a refugee camp for Kurds in Iran after being harassed and receiving death threats from armed Iranian guards. In April 1992, AmeriCares’ annual HomeFront project drew over 4,000 volunteers in 15 communities. By November, the group had sent three shipments of aid to combat starvation in refugee camps along the Kenya-Somalia border, as well as supplies to clinics in Mogadishu, Somalia.
- Robert Macauley’s bold actions help rescue Vietnamese war orphans injured in a jungle plane crash.
- Macauley founds Americares in New Canaan, Connecticut.
- Pope John Paul II gives the group its first mission: deliver medical aid to strife-torn Poland.
- A foundation relief plane is first U.S. flight to land in Iran since 1979–80 hostage crisis.
- Money rates AmeriCares the Best Charity in America.
- AmeriCares flies the first-ever private relief mission into North Korea.
- With Macauley’s health declining, organization hires its first president and chief executive officer.
- Foundation headquarters moves to Stamford, Connecticut.
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranks AmeriCares third best-funded charity in the nation.
In 1993, AmeriCares began sending monthly shipments to American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), which distributed the hospital supplies, medicines, nutritional supplements, hygiene items, and school supplies to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. At the time, AmeriCares was operating long-term programs in approximately 80 countries around the world. In December, Money rated AmeriCares, with its paid staff of only 45 people, the Best Charity in America, citing the fact that 99.1 percent of the $100.6 million it raised in 1992 was spent on services, not administrative costs. The year ended with former First Lady Barbara Bush acting as ambassador-at-large for AmeriCares on a mission that delivered humanitarian aid to war refugee camps in Croatia.
AmeriCares continued to earn its worldwide reputation for being the first disaster relief organization on the ground in May 1994, when it sent emergency supplies to Tanzania to aid Rwandans fleeing a three-week-old civil war between rival Hutu and Tutsi clans. In November, the organization opened the first AmeriCares Free Clinic, a state-of-the-art primary care facility that served the community of Norwalk, Connecticut. On January 10, 1995, AmeriCares became the first international relief agency to airlift humanitarian supplies into war-torn Chechnya. The organization created Camp AmeriKids in 1995 to provide an outdoor camping experience for inner-city children from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut who were affected by HIV/AIDS.
In April 1996, the ninth annual HomeFront project drew 10,000 volunteers in New York and Connecticut. In June, AmeriCares organized a campaign to assist more than 70 African American parishes that had lost their churches to arson since January 1995. The group used two anonymous $1 million donations to purchase tents and pianos and a donated DC-8 flight to deliver the cargo to any of the churches that requested help. International efforts continued with help going to flood victims in China and Cambodia, and more than $1.4 million of medicines and medical supplies to aid 100,000 Tibetan refugees in China.
In January 1997, the second AmeriCares Free Clinic opened in Danbury, Connecticut. The big story of 1997 was the group’s humanitarian aid to North Korea, where an estimated five million people faced starvation caused by drought, flooding, and crop failures since 1995. In September, the group’s chartered cargo plane, carrying medical personnel, medicine, and medical equipment, was the first civilian American plane to land in Pyongyang since 1949. By the end of 1997, the foundation had delivered more than $1.68 billion worth of donated medicine and relief supplies, and had long-term aid programs in 109 countries.
In April 1998, AmeriCares delivered medicines and supplies to Albanians in strife-torn Kosovo through Mother Teresa’s order, the Missionaries of Charity. The shipment was one of many that AmeriCares had delivered over the years, with help from the Order of Malta, to the Missionaries of Charity in Albania, India, South and Central America, parts of Africa, and the Middle East. On April 28, an AmeriCares-sponsored airlift carried the first U.S. humanitarian supplies to land in Iraq since economic sanctions were imposed by the United Nations on the country for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The medical and nutritional supplies were distributed to 22 clinics by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. By November, AmeriCares had sent 12 airlifts to survivors of Hurricane Mitch in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
In a year of typical activity, AmeriCares in 1999 sent aid to earthquake victims in Colombia, Turkey, and Taiwan; to flood victims in Venezuela; and to war refugees in Kosovo. In February, the group delivered $3.3 million in medical supplies to the Palestinian Authority and dedicated the shipment to the memory of King Hussein of Jordan.
During the course of 2000, a toxic-waste spill in Kentucky; flooding in Mozambique, Cambodia, and Vietnam; a cyclone in Madagascar; drought in Ethiopia and Armenia; and continuing conflict in the Middle East all initiated emergency aid shipments from AmeriCares. In addition to responding to disasters, in February 2000, the organization began an ongoing partnership with the Giao Diem Humanitarian Foundation to sponsor mobile health clinics, hospitals, orphanages, and elementary schools throughout Vietnam. In March, AmeriCares began providing ongoing assistance to Mongolia through Fraternité Notre Dame for the operation of a soup kitchen, shelter, orphanage, and hospital. In October, the organization expanded its partnership with ANERA with a grant of $14 million in medical aid to Lebanon and the establishment of an ongoing program of yearly shipments.
As 2001 began, AmeriCares had delivered disaster relief in some form to 137 nations and had established ongoing programs in many of the same countries. Consequently, when an earthquake struck Peru in June 2001, 11 tons of medical supplies were already en route by sea from Miami as part of a long-term humanitarian aid campaign. In 2001, the group responded to major earthquakes in India and El Salvador, famine in North Korea, severe medicine and medical supply shortages in Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, and civil conflict in Congo, all places with ongoing programs. AmeriCares responded within hours of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, sending four helicopters loaded with medical supplies and personnel to lower Manhattan.
In 2002, AmeriCares began a medical aid partnership with the Bulgarian Red Cross in Bulgaria and the Asociatia Speranta Pentru Sanatate (Hope for Health) in Romania, a provider of medical and social services to children infected with HIV. With the founder and chairman of the board, 78-year-old Robert Macauley, in declining health, the organization hired Duncan Edwards, former Headmaster at Brunswick School in Greenwich, Connecticut, as president and chief executive officer in January. Edwards would be responsible for overseeing the daily operations at AmeriCares as well as programs, communications, and development. By May, war in Afghanistan had prompted two airlifts of medical supplies and blankets for distribution to hospitals, clinics, and orphanages by Help the Afghan Children. In October, Edwards was replaced by Curtis R. Welling, a former investment banker. In December, the organization launched a major relief effort to deliver medicines and nutritional supplies to Ethiopia and southern Africa, where 20 million people had already died from AIDS and famine.
In April 2003, just weeks after the start of war in Iraq, AmeriCares passed the $3 billion mark in aid delivered since its founding when the group’s shipment of emergency medical supplies arrived in Kirkuk, Iraq. The delivery, as well as another to Baghdad in May, also marked the first humanitarian aid from a U.S. nongovernmental organization to arrive in either city after the U.S. military had declared victory. AmeriCares had actually prepositioned medicines and supplies in Turkey and Jordan in the run-up to the March 23 coalition invasion of Iraq. By the end of the year, the group had delivered over $8.3 million of aid by air and truck into Iraq, with most of the supplies originating from its warehouse in Amsterdam. In October, AmeriCares moved its headquarters from elegant downtown New Canaan to an industrial pocket of Stamford, Connecticut. The new facility had cheaper rent and allowed for a larger office and warehouse to be located on the same site.
TAPPING INTO THE INTERNET IN 2005
In May 2004, AmeriCares began a series of shipments of emergency medical aid to Sudanese refugees in northeastern Chad that were seeking safety from a brutal civil conflict in Darfur. Closer to home, starting in August, the organization responded to four hurricanes in six weeks, sending aid to Florida, Alabama, Haiti, Jamaica, Grenada, and the Cayman Islands. AmeriCares, which had become the major provider of essential medicines for the entire Darfur region, was finally able to send supplies directly into Darfur in October. In November, the Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked the foundation, with $695 million in contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations in fiscal 2003, as the nation’s sixth largest nonprofit recipient of private donations. In December, AmeriCares received a gift of $50 million worth of antibiotics from Purdue Pharma, the largest single donation in the organization’s history. As the year came to a close, the group’s focus turned to supplying emergency relief to victims of very powerful tsunamis that struck Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and India on December 26.
AmeriCares continued its major tsunami relief effort in January 2005 with additional airlifts to Sri Lanka, where it established an office in the capital city of Colombo and shifted its focus to long-term relief. The public’s response to the disaster was unprecedented. On March 31, 2005, with $40 million in donations in hand, AmeriCares stopped accepting contributions to its Tsunami Relief Fund (TRF). The source of the funds also showed, for the first time, the significant power of the Internet. In a matter of months, AmeriCares’ TRF had received $12.7 million from over 75,000 web donations. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August, in the worst natural disaster in modern U.S. history, AmeriCares responded with $8.1 million in relief supplies to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in a three-month emergency response effort. After an October earthquake in Pakistan that claimed over 70,000 lives, the organization sent a series of relief shipments to its local partner, Islamic Relief, and opened a 15-bed field hospital in the village of Bana in early December.
In 2006, AmeriCares sent three airlifts of essential medicines and relief supplies to Sudanese refugees in February and March, and a fourth shipment in April to restock clinics operated by Save the Children. The AmeriCares Indonesian office, set up following the tsunami disaster, was able to respond quickly with emergency supplies when an earthquake struck Java in May. The organization continued its recovery efforts in quake-ravaged areas of Pakistan with shipments of medicines and relief supplies, and in October opened the first of 20 rural health centers in a partnership with the World Health Organization. The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked AmeriCares third in the nation, trailing the Salvation Army and the American Cancer Society, in its 2006 edition of the “Philanthropy 400,” which rates charities based on the amount of support they raise from individuals, foundations, and corporations.
As 2007 began, the organization had distributed more than $6 billion in aid to more than 137 countries since its founding. Historically, it could boast that every $100 it raised in cash enabled it to distribute $3,000 in emergency relief, a record that made it one of the most efficient organizations in the nonprofit industry. AmeriCares’ incredibly well-connected and compassionate founder, Robert Macauley, was no longer involved in day-to-day operations but the organization he founded, based on delivering the greatest amount of aid to the people most in need for the least amount of money, was still growing and maintaining its reputation as one of the premier charities in the world.
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