ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The nonprofit Counterpart International today celebrated 47 years of community-driven development that has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of people around the world. www.Counterpart.org
"Counterpart's mission of empowering people and communities to drive and sustain their own development continues to be at the core of the organization," says Board Chairman Jeffrey T. LaRiche, President & CEO at CASTLE Worldwide in Morrisville, N.C. "These 47 years have been a prologue to even better things to come for Counterpart and the people it serves."
Today, Counterpart is in 22 countries, including Guatemala, Senegal, Armenia, Yemen and Afghanistan. It works closely with communities on civil society, livelihoods, food security, health and humanitarian assistance. www.Counterpart.org
President and CEO Joan Parker says Counterpart has grown because it combines three ingredients: proven international development practices, professional staff members who are well grounded in the communities they serve, and local community knowledge.
"We are a catalyst that brings together everyone in a community to identify their needs, resources and desired outcomes," she says. "Our team then brings in external resources, know-how and strategic planning in order to make those goals a reality."
LaRiche credits Counterpart's two founders – Father Stan Hosie and the late Betty Silverstein – for their vision of how an international organization could empower underserved communities in the South Pacific.
Hosie, a Marist priest, was sent by his order to the South Pacific islands in 1963 to review the Marist Order's humanitarian efforts.
"The islands in the Pacific were worse off at the beginning of the 1960s than they had been before World War II," he recalled in a 2011 interview.
With a clear understanding of the challenges facing the islands, Hosie launched the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific with Silverstein (nee Betty Bryant), one of Australia's best-known actresses in the 1930s and 1940s, and her husband Maurice Silverstein, then president of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer International.
In 1992, the Foundation was invited by the U.S. government to apply its proven community-driven approach to the former Soviet Union, which prompted the name change to Counterpart International.
Hosie, in his 2010 book "The House that Betty Built" (Ruder Finn Press), discussed why the name Counterpart was selected.
"We opted for a name that expressed what we stood for. This, from our earliest beginnings, was 'partnership.' We were not an organization with a large staff that we sent into developing nations to run programs. We were an organization that went into developing nations to work with their leaders, with their grassroots communities and their embryonic, even virtual, civil societies."
Counterpart International (www.Counterpart.org) is based in Arlington, Va.
SOURCE Counterpart International