Trustee and Council Chair Mary Bersot Named Finalist for Community Leadership Award

Mary Bersot, MedShare Trustee and Western Regional Council Chair, was recently named a top-three finalist in the “Volunteer of the Year” category of the 2011 Community Leadership Awards presented by The Invest in Others Charitable Foundation and InvestmentNews.  As part of this honor, she traveled to New York on September 14 to attend the group’s fifth annual awards ceremony, and had the opportunity to ring the NASDAQ bell the following morning.

Mary Bersot, Trustee and Council Member, representing MedShare in NYC's Times Square

Mary has been involved with MedShare since 2008, when we expanded to Northern California. Her leadership and fundraising efforts were instrumental in making this expansion successful during a recession, and she continues to build community awareness of our mission to responsibly recover and redistribute surplus medical supplies to those in need around the world.

We’re thrilled to share Mary’s account of this incredible honor and trip, in her own words:

“It isn’t often that an individual can take the spotlight and represent an organization such as MedShare in front of 600+ people, and then in Times Square. I recently had that privilege, however, when I was selected as a finalist for the 2011 Community Leadership Awards presented by Invest in Others and InvestmentNews in the Volunteer of the Year category. Clearly, it wasn’t me that was nominated. It was MedShare, and I was honored to represent this incredible organization.

First, I didn’t expect to be one of the three finalists and was surprised and honored to be included. On September 14th, my husband and I went to New York for the Invest in Others’ fifth annual awards ceremony to honor financial advisors who make a difference in their communities. We were also invited to ring the opening NASDAQ bell the following morning with the other finalists and sponsors. I have been in the investment business over 30 years and my dream has been to ring the bell and launch another trading session; I had no idea that I would feel such emotion and pride at being part of MedShare.

Upon entering the dining room the night of the awards ceremony, I was in awe when I saw the photo of the recipient country flags on the wall of MedShare’s Western Distribution Center on the main screen. This photo was chosen as part of the colorful backdrop as we met the other finalists, and I couldn’t help but recognize the sharp contrast between the lavish ceremony and the folks we serve both at home and abroad who couldn’t imagine such a fine event. Those flags helped me stay focused on why I was there.

I am just as happy making labels for the boxes of supplies bound for Haiti as I am taking a bow in front of 660 people. What those attending the reception didn’t see were the thousands of volunteers and staff behind the scenes that have made it possible to ship over 700 forty-foot containers full of much needed medical supplies to countries around the globe. One person can’t possibly take credit – it’s truly a collective effort. The contribution MedShare makes to global health is enormous, and as the story was told throughout the event more and more people expressed a genuine interest.

It was overwhelming to think that I was recognized by my peers at the event, and the next morning I found myself as excited as a kid entering Disneyland when I walked onto the NASDAQ set. I didn’t really care if the market was opening higher or lower – I was just excited to be there. We had our individual photos taken at the podium, which were then projected outside on the 3 story NASDAQ tower in Times Square. We rang the bell as a group and went outside, where we had our photos taken again. I had no idea that behind me would be MedShare’s logo projected two stories high for all of Times Square to see! I felt such pride and excitement. Now I know what it means when someone mentions their fifteen minutes of fame!

I am proud to be part of an industry that gives back and to have had the opportunity to share the MedShare story with the many remarkable people I met. My hope is that the recognition MedShare received those two days continues forward so many, many more lives can be saved.”

-Mary Bersot, MedShare Trustee and Western Regional Council Chair

This article is an excerpt from our October e-newsletter. For more – including a letter from CEO Meridith Rentz, 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.

MedShare Celebrates 700th Container Shipment

MedShare staff, volunteers and supporters celebrate the 700th container shipment

On Friday, September 2nd, MedShare celebrated a milestone achievement: we shipped our 700th container of humanitarian aid. This shipment paid tribute to A.B. Short and Bob Freeman’s founding vision, and celebrated the success of our past 13 years, during which we’ve shipped over $93 million worth of medical supplies and equipment to 88 developing countries and territories around the world. In the process, over 2 million cubic feet of space has been saved from landfills, as well as millions of lives around the world.

The container was sent from our Western Region Distribution and Volunteer Center in Northern California, and will benefit beleaguered hospitals in Misrata, Libya.

Turn-out at the ceremony was fitting for an event of this magnitude: Mr. Homdi Soliman, Operation Director of HOPE International Relief & Development Agency and sponsor, Dr. Heshaam Fallah, a Libyan-American physician with Kaiser Permanente and project coordinator, the Chief Medical Officer from Sutter Health, Kaiser Permanente representatives, a Council Member from the City of San Leandro, MedShare Trustees and Regional Council members, and many of our volunteers were in attendance. Mr. Soliman and Dr. Fallah spoke about the grave healthcare situation in Libya, and Mary Bersot, Trustee and Western Region Council Chair, shared her appreciation to our staff and volunteers.

“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.

The container was sponsored by HOPE International Relief & Development Agency (USA)based out of Columbus, Ohio. I-GO Aid Foundation, based in Malta, Libya, will coordinate delivery of the supplies and equipment to hospitals in Libya. The 1,000 boxes of medical supplies we sent were supplemented with biomedical equipment and durable medical goods, including 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. This marked the fourth shipment we’ve sent to hospitals in Libyacollaborating with these partners.

We must give credit where credit is due: MedShare wouldn’t be celebrating this milestone achievement were it not for our wonderful community. For those that support MedShare through your gift of time, in-kind or financial donations or community advocacy, we thank you for all that you do, and ask that you continue helping us bridge the gap between surplus and need. With your partnership, there is no limit to what we can achieve, and we look forward to celebrating our 1,000th, 2,500th, and 5,000th container shipments with you!

To view more photos of this shipment ceremony, click here.

This is an excerpt from September’s e-newsletter. To read more – including a letter from CEO Meridith Rentz and the story of a medical mission team in South Georgia – click here.

MedShare’s Mary Bersot Honored for Contributions to MedShare in New York

We mentioned earlier this week that Mary Bersot, MedShare Trustee & Western Regional Council Chair, was named a finalist for the 2011 Community Leadership Awards presented by The Invest in Others Charitable Foundation and InvestmentNews.

Mary was honored for her significant contributions to MedShare last night at the Invest in Others Community Awards in New York. While not selected as the top winner, she was one of just 3 people selected nationally as finalists as “Volunteer of the Year.”

Hundreds of entries for the Community Leadership Awards are received each year, and 2011 brought nominations for nearly 300 advisors from over 100 different broker/dealers and custodians. Finalists were determined by a diverse panel of industry leaders and InvestmentNews editors, and were selected based on their level of involvement, contributions, and the impact of their efforts.

This morning, Mary had the opportunity to join The Invest in Others Foundation in ringing the NASDAQ Stock Market Opening Bell:

The Invest in Others Foundation Rings the Nasdaq bell on September 15, 2011. MedShare's Mary Bersot (front, in the white shirt) joined them.

Invest in Others Charitable Foundation visited the NASDAQ MarketSite in New York City’s Times Square following the Invest in Others Community Leadership Awards, which were held Wednesday night at Cipriani 42nd Street. Invest in Others is a public charity established in 2006 to celebrate financial advisors across the industry for their philanthropic efforts. (via)

Congratulations, Mary!

MedShare’s Mary Bersot Named Volunteer of the Year Finalist

Our own Mary Bersot, Trustee & Western Regional Council Chair, has been named a finalist for the 2011 Community Leadership Awards presented by The Invest in Others Charitable Foundation and InvestmentNews. The recipient will be announced at the group’s fifth annual awards ceremony in New York on September 14 to honor financial advisors who make a difference in their communities. Bersot was among three finalists selected in the “Volunteer of the Year” category. Invest in Others will make a charitable donation to each of the finalists’ charity of choice.

Mary has been involved with MedShare since 2008, when we expanded to Northern California. Her leadership and fundraising efforts were instrumental in making this expansion successful during a recession, and she continues to build community awareness of our mission to responsibly recover and redistribute surplus medical supplies to those in need around the world. Recently, Bersot spearheaded a project to sponsor a container of medical supplies and equipment that was sent to the Kingdom of Tonga in April, 2011.

InvestmentNews featured a wonderful article on their site about Mary that we wanted to share with you:

2011 Community Leadership Awards Finalists

Finalist: MARY BERSOT

Mary Bersot

MedShare may not be a household name yet, but Mary Bersot is striving to fix that. 

The Georgia-based organization collects surplus medical supplies and equipment from hospitals, medical distribution companies and individuals. It then solicits donations to ship them to impoverished health care facilities in the developing world and free clinics in the United States. 

Since 2008 Ms. Bersot, chief executive of Bersot Capital Management LLC in Mill Valley, Calif., (primary custodian Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services) has led the effort to expand MedShare’s resources beyond Georgia by leasing a warehouse in California. The organization currently collects medical surplus from 60 hospitals in the two states. 

In the past 18 months, Ms. Bersot has raised $100,000 to help fund shipments of supplies to Haiti and American Samoa for earthquake and tsunami relief, respectively. She also secured a $270,000 in-kind donation of medical supplies and recruited high-level community leaders to promote awareness of MedShare on the West Coast. 

“For me, it was a very easy decision to get involved in MedShare, because I’ve witnessed the primitive condition of clinics in Africa,”; Ms. Bersot said. 

“I believe that providing better quality medical care for the underserved here and internationally is critical for a healthy world,”; she said.

Mary and her husband, Tom, are headed to New York on Tuesday for this special event. Please join us in wishing Mary the best in the comments section below! For more information, you can read our press release here.

Thank You Letter from Tonga (the container arrived!)

Remember the Western Region Council sponsored container of medical supplies and equipment that we sent to Tonga in April in collaboration with the LDS Church? We are happy to share the good news that it arrived safely, was unloaded in a secure compound, and distributed between Niu’ui Hospital in Ha’apai and Prince Ngu Hospital in Vava’u.  Both hospitals are remote in the outer islands, and these supplies will certainly go a long way in enabling each to provide better healthcare services.

We received a thank you letter from  Halahuni Langi, the Country Welfare Manager for the LDS Church in Tonga, and wanted to share it with you.

Dear Mr. Haupt,

Greeting from Tonga!

My name is Halahuni Langi and I am the Country Welfare Manager for the LDS Church in Tonga.

This is to acknowledge receipt of the generous donations of medical equipments and supplies donated by  MedShare for the two hospitals in the outer Islands namely: Prince Wellington Ngu Hospital in Vava’u and Niu’ui Hospital in Ha’apai.

The FCL container 40-footer No. MFJU 0859239 landed on Queen Salote Wharf, Tonga on 9th May 2011.  While on hold on  the wharf with Customs seal intact, Ministry of Health was able to clear the said container through Customs on duty free basis without any problem.  The said container was delivered from the Wharf on Friday June 3rd, 2011 to LDS premises at a distance of about one-tenth of a mile secured with a 24-hour security provided by LDS staff.

Hand-over Ceremony of the medical goods and supplies by the church representative to the  Ministry of Health took place on Tuesday June 7th, 2011.  Government Dignitaries including the Minister of Health, Director of Health together with several members of their staff as well as LDS church leaders attended this ceremony.  A ceremony of this type always call for prayers.

Dr. Sililo Tomiki, the Chief Dental Officer offered the Invocation – and at this opening prayer – he was praying for special blessings for the staff of MedShare and its directors for their generous assistance in donating the medical goods for the people of Vava’u and Ha’apai, respectively.

From San Leandro, CA...

...to Tonga!

During the course of this ceremony, the Honorable Minister of Health, Mr ‘Uliti Uta and the Director of Health, Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola jointly acknowledged their gratitude for the great donation of medical goods and supplies by MedShare.  The Hon Minister emphasized of the fact that all the supplies donated by MedShare will be delivered to the two hospitals – none to remain at the Vaiola hospital in Tongatapu.  Surely, this direction was carried out by the Ministry of Health together with the LDS Humanitarian Services in Tonga.   The Minister further warned his staff of the importance of proper handling and proper application of the medical supplies in order to improve the lives of the people of Vava’u and Ha’apai as to meet the expectations of MedShare.

At this ceremony, President Fe’ao Fehoko of the LDS church offered the benediction in which , he was pleading with the Lord for his blessings upon the staff and directors of MedShare and all the people who made it possible for the delivery of the medical goods for Ha’apai and Vava’u.

Following this ceremony, a week later on 17th June 2011, final handover ceremonies took place at the two hospitals.  Again, acknowledgement of the generous assistance by MedShare were expressed during the Course of the Ceremonies.  Dr Edgar ‘Akau’ola of Prince Ngu Hospital and Dr. Tevita Tu’ungafasi of Niu’ui Hospital expressed their gratitude for having been access to MedShare Website in placing their Orders.  Dr. ‘Akau’ola expressed his gratitude for allowing him by MedShare to order more than 500 items.  He was impressed with the donated goods – quality and quantity.

The Hon. Minister of Health at the Handover ceremony of the medical supplies at Niu’ui Hospital challenged the staff to ensure that the  health of Ha’apai people will be improved and their lives would be better and happier.

At the Handover Ceremony at the Prince Ngu Hospital, the Hon. Minister of Police, Dr. Viliami Latu in representing the Government of Tonga, expressed gratitude to MedShare and the donors for the successful handover of the medical supplies.  Finally, on behalf of the Humanitarian Services, I would like to express our heart-felt thanks to the directors and staff of MedShare for their generous assistance in donating the medical goods and supplies for the improvement of the health of the people of Ha’apai and Vava’u, respectively.

Congratulation to you at MedShare and your staff for your great donations.  Accordingly, all the recipients who are receiving treatments at the two hospitals can only say thank you- God  bless you and the staff of MedShare on your endeavors to improve the health of the people of Tonga.

On behalf of our people, we owe it to MedShare – and we always pray for your protection in all areas of your developments.

Thank you again – God bless MedShare.

Sincerely,

Halahuni Langi
Country Welfare Manager

Thanks to MedShare’s Western Region Council for your direct efforts that made this aid to the people of Tonga possible!

To view photos of the shipment ceremony, click here.

The Ark Newspaper: Surplus Medical Supplies Make an Impact

Last week, MedShare was featured in The Ark Newspaper, a paper that serves the California towns Tiburon, Belvedere, and Strawberry. Two of our Western Regional Council members, Mary Bersot and Doug Grey, are from Tiburon, and they’re profiled in this article.

Take a moment to read the article:

Surplus Medical Supplies Make an Impact

By Ann Mizel

MedShare, a nonprofit organization ranked one of the most efficient charities in the United States by Charity Navigator, is making a huge difference in the lives of people around the world who have little access to quality healthcare, and two Tiburon residents, Mary Bersot and Dr. Douglas Grey, are deeply committed to the organization, serving on its national board.

Grey, who has retired from Kaiser Permanente as a vasular surgeon, remains at Kaiser as vice-chair, National Product Council, and is co-chair of the Technology Coordinating Group of Northern California as well as vice-chair of the Western Regional Council for MedShare. “MedShare is my second career,” he told The Ark.

Bersot, of Bersot Capital Management of Tiburon, is chair of MedShare’s Western Regional Council. “We collect usable medical surplus, except pharmaceuticals, from 29 California hospitals, including Marin General, and healthcare facilities that would otherwsie go into landfills adn incinerators and send the surplus to qualified healthcare facilites in the developing world,” Bersot explained.

The supplies sent abroad in 40-foot ocean containers of 1,000 boxes includes sutures, surgical instruments, IV sets, gloves, exam tables, stephescopes, wheelchair, sterilizers, infant incubators, blood pressure monitors and defibrillators. Qualified surplus medical supplies are also made available to free clinics in California and Georgia. (MedShare’s headquarters is in Decatur, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb.)

Grey’s focus is biomedical supplies – “anything that gets plugged in,” he said. “Either you reuse or throw out. MedShare’s biomedical engineer and technician restore and repair all donated equipment, so recipient hospitals are able to effectively operate the equipment they receive.”

MedShare, which has earned a Green Business certification, has become a passion for Grey, who sees “the magic of this,” when he speaks of MedShare, its efficient inventory system, fully screened recipients and contribution tot he environment.

Both Grey and Bersot emphasized the tremendous impact that can be made with even very few doanted supplies, and that for every $20,000 investment – the cost of sending one 12,000-pound container – $155,000 worth of desperated needed medical supplies and equipment will reach those in need. “We raised $20,000 in two months for a recent shipment to the Kingdom of Tongo,” said Bersot, who added that average tax-deductible donations are in the $50 to $100 range. “Our story is an easy story to tell.”

MedShare is able to keep overhead low because of its dedicated volunteers – 3,000 in the Bay Area – who work at MedShare’s distribution center in San Leandro, sorting and packaging donations by type, size and date of expiration. (Volunteers can sign up online.) Because of a huge outpouring of support from volunteers as well as donors right after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, MedShare was able to ship 27 containers to needy hospitals in that country.

Board members of MedShare make yearly trips abroad, so Bersot and Grey will be able to see firsthand some of their good work when they visit Kenya next year. “We see our work with MedShare as a way to reach out around the world, much like Peace Corps workers, but from afar,” said Bersot. Without being physically present, they are touching and saving lives every day.

To learn how you can help, visit MedShare’s website at www.medshare.org, contact Executive Director Chuck Haupt at chaupt@medshare.org, or call 510-567-7070.

Thanks to Mary, Doug, Ann Mizel, and Chuck Haupt for making this article come to fruition!