A New Year’s Message of Thanks Inspired by the People of Haiti: HOPE

In December, I had the opportunity to spend several days in Haiti visiting with several extraordinary MedShare partners.  While I was overwhelmed by the challenges this country and its people continue to face, I keep finding myself thinking of one word when I consider the overall experience of my visit:  HOPE.

I visited the Leveque community outside of Port-au-Prince, where – with support from MedShare-partner 410 Bridge – 93 families (half of those with a deaf family member) are living in community in permanent housing, and where eventually 169 families will dwell.  Two of the community leaders who are deaf, Berthide and Mackenson, spent time learning about MedShare by reading our annual report since my sign language abilities don’t extend much beyond “Nice to Meet You” and “Thank you!”  They did teach me a few new signs including that for “cow” (which crossed the road often during our visit) and “love” (a sign they used in every photo taken).

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As they showed us the amazing progress they’ve made in providing housing, access to water, agriculture and education for this community, I thought of the HOPE they are providing to hundreds of Haitians.

I was overcome with emotion when I visited the Isaie Jeanty Maternity Hospital and saw two beautiful but very small babies (less than 2 pounds) that had been given a chance at life thanks to supplies and incubators provided by MedShare in strong partnership with the First Lady of Haiti via Mona Adam, Northside Hospital in Atlanta, and GIANT. Thanks to dedicated Haitian leaders and health care providers, these babies and their families have HOPE for life.

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While these stories of HOPE may seem small compared to the millions of Haitians in need, I am truly inspired by the people of Haiti that are working diligently hour-by-hour, day-by-day to rebuild their country.  And, I am extremely grateful to the many MedShare supporters who have generously donated their volunteer time, medical supplies and equipment, and financial resources so that MedShare could support these efforts.  MedShare has shipped 84 forty-foot ocean containers full of medical supplies and equipment to Haiti over the past 15 years, with 7 in 2012 alone.  Thank you for supporting MedShare to provide HOPE and HEALING to the people of Haiti!

In Service,

Meridith Rentz, CEO & President

MedShare Creates New Videos Reflecting our Mission

As MedShare continues to expand our mission and impact, it is imperative that we have the right tools to engage and educate. To that end, we recently created two new videos to promote the MedShare message to multiple audiences.

We worked with two incredible teams on these videos: Henry Schein, with whom we partner in various ways, and Encyclomedia, a video production house in Atlanta. Each of the videos have a powerful message and leave a lasting impression. The first video utilizes recipient and volunteer footage and photos to convey our operations and potential for greater impact beautifully. In the second, Meridith Rentz, CEO and President, joins A.B. Short, co-founder and Senior Advisor to the CEO, in telling our story. This video gives a comprehensive view of both our history and future goals.

These videos are a great way to quickly share the essence of our mission and work with those that are interested, and we invite you to share them with your friends and family.

This was part of our December 2011 newsletter. To view the rest – including stories on our expansion into NY and FL and a great last minute gift idea – click here.

CEO Corner: “We Must Continue to do More”

Meridith Rentz, MedShare CEO

Dear friends,

During my first month here at MedShare, I enjoyed spending quality time in each of our current distribution and volunteer centers (Atlanta, GA and San Francisco Bay Area) as well as those regions where we are evaluating expansion including the Mid-Atlantic (to include New York City, Baltimore, and Philadelphia) and South Florida (to include Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Boca Raton).

Everywhere I go, the message from our donors, partners, volunteers, staff, Board and council members is brilliantly consistent as they share with me stories of the amazing work MedShare has done for a country, hospital, clinic or project about which they care deeply. They all express great admiration and gratitude for the unique MedShare model that A.B. Short and Bob Freeman created 13 years ago….and they all convey with great urgency that we must continue to do more. The world needs “more” of what this MedShare team delivers.

The MedShare Board and staff have heard this plea for “more,” and we are working to respond in partnership with strong leadership groups in both the Mid-Atlantic and South Florida regions. Dan Goldberg is leading our efforts in South Florida and has joined the MedShare Board. Sandy Tytel, Chair of our New York Council, and Seth Zachary, Trustee, are leading up a great group of Council members in New York. While we have much work ahead of us, there are already great things happening. For example, over the past few weeks we have received several hundred quality hospital beds from North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System. From Ghana to Ecuador and beyond, many of our worthy recipients lack adequate hospital beds; this donation will help MedShare meet those needs. We look forward to continuing this strong partnership with North Shore LIJ and building additional new relationships with health care facilities and suppliers in both markets.

There are many ways you can help us as we develop our plan for these new regions. Whenever MedShare is invited into a new region, we must develop strong partnership with local hospitals, medical supply manufacturers and distributors, volunteers, donors, and other nonprofit organizations. If you have ideas or recommendations of people or organizations we should contact in any either South Florida or the Mid-Atlantic, please send them our way. You can reach me at mrentz@medshare.org or via Twitter @mrentz.

We also have several fun events coming up to “introduce” MedShare to the community in Boca Raton (October 26th at SPIN Ultra Lounge featuring The Beach Boys) and New York City (December 8th, The University Club, 6:15 cocktails, 7:30 dinner). We’d love for you to join us.

Thank you for your support and feedback as we work to provide expanded MedShare services in order to save more lives and support more communities.

In Service,

Meridith

This letter is an excerpt from our October e-newsletter. For more – including a first-hand account of a Trustee’s trip to NYC, our Clinton Global Initiative Commitment with icddr,b and Americares to strengthen health systems in Bangladesh, and how to get your family and friends involved – click here.

A Letter from Meridith Rentz, MedShare’s CEO

Meridith Rentz, MedShare CEO

Hello Friends,

It’s officially been two weeks since I joined the MedShare team, and I am honored and thrilled to be writing to you. With each day that passes, I continue to be amazed by the passion and commitment that all members of the MedShare family have for our extraordinary mission.

Balancing this feeling of exuberance, I find myself to be in a particularly reflective mode with the recent passing of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a day that touched all of us in a tragic, and in some cases, life-changing way. My almost 10-year-old son was born a few weeks after September 11th, 2001. As I was watching him play soccer recently, I thought about how much he has grown and changed over the past 10 years – it’s a dramatic difference.

Have these same ten years made a difference in our collective communities, too? I do believe that as individuals and groups, we have grown and changed since the tragic events of ten years ago that drew our nation together in a collective holding of breath and sense of loss, followed by intense pride and action.

Are we a nation that cares more? Are we a nation that takes action more? Are we a nation that works harder to find practical solutions to issues of social justice?

For the most part, the answers are a complex combination of yes, no, maybe, it depends, and sometimes.

But then I look at you – the supporters of MedShare’s mission – and the answers are crystal clear. You care. You take action. You’re not afraid of complex challenges. You want to improve this world of ours in practical, life-saving ways. The clarity of your support is what fuels the power of MedShare. Your contributions – be it the gift of your time, your voice, your financial support or your in-kind donations – make all the difference, every day to people across the globe.

Your support enabled MedShare to ship its 700th container just two weeks ago. The supplies on this container will support urgent humanitarian needs throughout Libya. Consider the impact that 700th container and the 699 before it (with their $93 million worth of medical supplies and equipment) have had on the people living in 88 recipient countries – it truly takes your breath away.

And then – once you catch your breath – it’s easy to lose it again when you consider the significant work ahead of us. According to Healthcare Without Harm, U.S. hospitals generate more than two million tons of medical waste each year. Much of that waste is unused medical supplies and equipment. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization estimates that more than 10 million children under the age of five die in the developing world due to inadequate medical care.

We must take a deep breath and then we must carefully pursue opportunities to expand the impact and sustainability of MedShare’s unique model of gathering suppliesmatching needs and improving health. We can and must continue to work in partnership with the communities we serve as well as individuals, corporations, foundations, and other nonprofits working to achieve our ambitious goals. We must care more. We must take more action. We must redouble our efforts to take on complex challenges. We must do all of this to save lives and improve health infrastructure in the developing world, and reduce our incredible environmental impact in our own communities.

I am excited to work in partnership with each of you over the coming weeks, months and years to bridge the gap between surplus and need. It is an honor and a privilege to follow in the footsteps of MedShare’s amazing co-founder and former CEO, A.B. Short. I am also delighted that A.B. has accepted my request that he stay on at MedShare as Senior Advisor to the CEO to support this leadership transition and continue to contribute his tremendous entrepreneurial skills to our growth endeavors.

I promise each of you that I will do my best every day to keep up with you in your advancement of our mission and to ensure MedShare continues to merit your invaluable support. I welcome your ideas, questions or concerns. You can reach me any time at mrentz@medshare.org or via Twitter @mrentz.

In service,

Meridith

This is an excerpt from September’s e-newsletter. To read more – including a story of a medical mission team in South Georgia and our 700th container shipment celebration – click here.

MedShare Southeast’s Rookie of the Year Volunteer Award: Rona Gilchrist

On Friday, September 2, 2011, Meridith Rentz, MedShare’s CEO, awarded Rona Gilchrist with our Rookie of the Year Volunteer Award.

MedShare CEO Meridith Rentz award Rona Gilchrist our Rookie of the Year Volunteer Award

Rona may be a familiar face to those of you who volunteer in our Decatur sort room. She’s contributed an impressive 320+ hours since this January, and has been a tremendous help in the MedTeam store, volunteer programs, and other countless other ways at MedShare. There aren’t enough words to express how grateful we are to our volunteers; without their incredible dedication to our mission, we wouldn’t be able to achieve our mission of bridging the gap between surplus and need. To all of you – thank you!

Congratulations, Rona, and thanks for your wonderful support! Please join us in congratulating her in the comments section below…

If you’re interested in signing up for a volunteer session in either our Decatur or Bay Area facility, please click here.

AJC article: MedShare names new CEO; co-founder steps aside in planned succession

Today, September 1, 2011, is a monumental day for MedShare. This is the day A.B. Short steps down from his post at CEO, and we welcome a new leader to our organization, Meridith Rentz.

Meridith Rentz, MedShare's CEO & President

As CEO for 13 years, A.B. was the motivational and entrepreneurial force that drove MedShare to ship $93 million worth of supplies and equipment in 700 forty-foot containers to 88 developing countries, outfit 2,100 medical teams and save over 2 million feet of cubic space from landfills in the U.S.

Meridith’s goal is to take MedShare’s innovative, global medical supply chain concept and expand its reach and social impact. She’ll do this by focusing on two interdependent priorities: 1) improve the model and 2) expand the model.

We’ll leave you with an article the Atlanta Journal Constitution ran on our CEO transition. If you wish to share your thoughts, bid farewell to A.B. or welcome Meridith, we invite you to do so on our Facebook wall or via Twitter, @MedShare or @mrentz.

MedShare names new CEO; co-founder steps aside in planning succession
by: Sheila Poole

A.B. Short, chief executive officer of Decatur-based MedShare, is stepping down from the helm of the nonprofit he co-founded.

Meridith Rentz, most recently chief operating officer of Points of Light Institute, will become the new chief executive. 

The move, which is part of a planned succession strategy, takes effect Sept. 1.

“I am not retiring, I’m not even thinking about that,” said Short, 66. “I’m moving over and inviting some youthful and creative leadership to come in and take MedShare to the next stage.”

Short, who co-founded the organization with Bob Freeman in 1998, said he will remain as Rentz’s senior adviser for an unspecified time.

 “Some of us who start things stay too long,” he said. “We get comfortable and organizations can suffer.” He said he asked the organization’s board to start the process of finding a successor about a year ago. 

MedShare collects surplus medical supplies and equipment from hospitals, companies and individuals and distributes them to health care facilities in developing nations. It also helps medical missions and safety net clinics in the United States and abroad. In doing so, the organization’s work helps reduce the amount of medical waste in landfills.

“I’m going to take off my hat here and put on my MedShare hat,” Rentz said. “MedShare is really on a fantastic trajectory.” She said her plans are to continue to provide the same “high-quality services and expand our footprint.”

MedShare currently has two warehouses — in Decatur and in San Leandro, Calif. Officials hope to expand into the Mid-Atlantic region, which would cover Boston, Philadelphia and New York; and in southern Florida.

MedShare Celebrating 700th Humanitarian Aid Shipment with Formal Ceremony – Libyan Relief

MedShare to host a formal shipment ceremony for its 700th aid container to beleaguered hospitals in Libya on Friday, September 2nd.

For 13 years, award-winning nonprofit MedShare has bridged the gap between surplus and need by recovering and redistributing surplus medical supplies and equipment from hospitals and medical companies to needy health facilities around the world.  On September 2nd at 9:30 a.m., the organization will celebrate its 700th container shipment of humanitarian aid with a formal ceremony. The container will be sent to benefit beleaguered hospitals in Libya.

I-GO AID Foundation

The container is sponsored by HOPE International Relief & Development Agency (USA) based out of Columbus, Ohio. I-GO Aid Foundation, based in Malta, Libya, will be coordinating delivery of the supplies and equipment to hospitals in Libya. Among the over 1,000 medical supplies and equipment that will be sent are hospital beds, gurneys, exam lights, exam tables, a ventilator for pediatric and adult patients, surgical packs, syringes, gloves and oxygen masks. Hospitals throughout Libya are dealing with a humanitarian catastrophe, as they are running short on critically needed medical supplies.

“It has been an exceptional experience working with MedShare and all their staff throughout the Libyan conflict. With their extraordinary service and vision, we were able to help save the lives of thousands of men, women, and children,” said Homdi Soliman, Operation Director of HOPE.

In its 13-year history, MedShare has shipped over $93 million worth of medical supplies and equipment in 700 tractor-trailer size containers to 88 developing countries and territories around the world. In the process, the organization has saved over 2 million cubic feet of space from landfills, and millions of lives. This will be MedShare’s fourth shipment to hospitals in Libya collaborating with these partners.

“It’s truly remarkable what MedShare has accomplished over the past 13 years.  Our success is tied directly to the strategic partnerships that we have cultivated over the years,” said Meridith Rentz, CEO of MedShare. “We are proud to send over 1,000 medical items to those in Libya that have been dramatically impacted by the turmoil in that country.”

I-GO Aid Foundation is a nonprofit organization that delivers much needed medical and food supplies to the Libyan people, specifically those in cut-off coastal areas of the country. HOPE International Relief & Development Agency is an American non-profit, humanitarian organization dedicated to easing the hardships of the disadvantaged, displaced, and misfortunate people of the world through programs that provide food, shelter, education, and financial means and incentives to start small businesses and industries that could serve as permanent sources of income.

“I am driven by the simple desire to do anything I can to help the thousands of Libyans that are suffering every day,” said Dr. Heshaam Fallah, a Libyan-American physician with Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, CA and primary coordinator of MedShare’s four aid shipments to Libya.

The aid shipment ceremony offers a TV and photo opportunity for the media as MedShare celebrates the impact of their mission through the formal send-off of its 700th shipment of medical supplies and equipment.  The event is scheduled for Friday, September 2 at 9:30 a.m. at MedShare located at 2937 Alvarado St, San Leandro, Calif.