SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Sept. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Direct Relief today broke ground on what will become the largest accredited distribution hub for humanitarian medical aid in the United States. Located on a 7.99-acre parcel in Santa Barbara, California, the new facility will meet heightened federal requirements for security and storage of prescription medications and increase efficiencies for Direct Relief's expanding humanitarian activities that serve people throughout the United States and globally.
Now the ninth-largest U.S. charity, according to Forbes, Direct Relief runs the largest charitable medicines program in the United States and is among the largest providers of humanitarian medical aid in the world, both to meet ongoing needs and in response to emergencies.
"More than ever before in its 68-year history, Direct Relief is being called upon to assist people who are vulnerable – who endure poverty or crisis situations, and who often confront both," said Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief President and CEO. "This project is critically important for Direct Relief to fulfill its longstanding humanitarian role of providing essential medical support to those most in need."
A Warehouse for a Better World
Built to accommodate the increasing demand for Direct Relief's services, the new headquarters and distribution center will be 155,000 square feet – nearly four times the size of Direct Relief's main facility in Goleta – making it the largest accredited distribution hub for humanitarian medical aid in the nation.
By incorporating state-of-the-art distribution technology, it will also transform how the organization mobilizes medical aid and dramatically increase the efficiency of its services.
To complete and endow the new facility, Direct Relief today announced a $40 million fundraising campaign, for which it already has secured $25 million in private contributions and pledges from corporate partners, foundations, and individuals, with lead gifts from FedEx, the Zegar Family Foundation, and Dorothy Largay and Wayne Rosing.
"FedEx is honored to support the lifesaving work of Direct Relief as part of our FedEx Cares initiative," said Patrick Fitzgerald, senior vice president, Integrated Marketing and Communications at FedEx. "The new headquarters and medical distribution warehouse will help Direct Relief do what it does best – provide immediate relief to men, women, and children who need it most."
The Highest Standards for Humanitarian Medical Aid
Direct Relief's tradition of adapting business tools and approaches to its public-benefit humanitarian mission led it to become licensed as a California drug wholesaler more than 50 years ago. In turn, the organization was among the first nonprofit organizations licensed in the same manner as commercial businesses to accept, store, and provide donations of prescription medications needed by persons unable to afford them.
This role has expanded as gaps and needs have expanded, including in the United States. In 2009, Direct Relief became the first and remains the only U.S. charity to be designated by The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) as a Verified-Accredited Wholesale Distributor (VAWD) and licensed to distribute prescription medications in all 50 states. The accreditation attaches to an organization's physical plant – the building in which prescription drugs are stored – not to the organization.
The Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), enacted in 2013 as federal law, raised those requirements for any organization that owns, stores, handles, or distributes prescription drugs.
California-Based for 68 Years and Counting
Based in Santa Barbara since its founding in 1948 by refugees of World War II, Direct Relief has long served as a critical resource for emergency preparedness and response efforts in California and nationally.
"Direct Relief has called Santa Barbara home for 68 years while improving the lives of families around the world," said U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara). "This new facility will allow them to continue doing their meaningful work that helps so many. We are fortunate to have an organization with such a global impact right here in our local community, and I am so pleased that Direct Relief and the City of Santa Barbara worked together to make this new facility possible."
Construction is projected to conclude by early 2018, at which point the organization will relocate its staff and consolidate its operations into the new facility.
"This is an incredibly important moment in the history of Direct Relief," said Dr. Angel Iscovich, Chair of Direct Relief's Board of Directors. "We are grateful to the generous supporters who are helping make this new facility a reality."
About Direct Relief
Established in 1948 with a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies, Direct Relief delivers lifesaving medical resources throughout the world – without regard to politics, religion, ethnic identities, or ability to pay. With operations spanning more than 70 countries and all 50 states in the U.S., Direct Relief is the only charitable nonprofit to obtain Verified Accredited Wholesale Distributor (VAWD) accreditation by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Among other distinctions, Direct Relief earns a perfect score of 100 from independent evaluator Charity Navigator, was listed among the world's most innovative nonprofits by Fast Company, and has received the CECP Directors' Award, the Drucker Prize for Nonprofit Innovation, and the President's Award from Esri for excellence in GIS mapping. For more information, please visit https://www.DirectRelief.org.
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/direct-relief-investing-40-million-to-strengthen-and-expand-supply-chain-for-humanitarian-medical-aid-300336541.html
SOURCE Direct Relief