MedShare partner shows life-saving miracles start with small packages

The J. F. Kapnek Trust has been a MedShare partner for about five years, ever since Executive Director Dan Robbins, M.D. learned about our work in the San Francisco Bay area. “I can always find a large number of medical supplies at MedShare that meet the specific needs of the patients we serve,” he noted. “For example, adult catheters are of little use if what we really need are catheters for infants and children.”

robbins-suppliesAbove: Some of the supplies Dr. Dan Robbins has received from Medshare’s Western Region Distribution Center included pediatric cannulas and IV catheters for Harare Children’s Hospital in Zimbabwe.

The J.F. Kapnek Charitable Trust operates one of the largest pediatric HIV/AIDS transmission prevention programs in Africa. Based in Harare, Zimbabwe, one of southern Africa’s most impoverished countries, the organization serves approximately 400 birthing centers and 120,000 pregnant women.

In a country with a total population of 12 million, there are an estimated 2 million AIDS orphans. Over the past 40 years, the Trust’s programs, centered at Harare Children’s Hospital, have prevented thousands of new pediatric HIV and AIDS cases each year.

A practicing pediatrician on staff at the Oakland Children’s Hospital, Dr. Robbins has been taking medical supplies to Zimbabwe to assist health care professionals for about 10 years. “It’s been a moving experience for me because I had to confront the harsh reality that children in Zimbabwe died of the same diseases we can prevent here in the United States,” he said.

Robbins said medical supplies the Trust has received from MedShare have significantly helped the work of health care professionals at Harare Children’s Hospital. “Doctors there often run out of the supplies they needed to perform critical procedures,” he added. “Our partnership with MedShare has helped doctors in Zimbabwe save lives.”

A trailer packed with preschool items, wheelchairs, and medical supplies – some of those supplies from MedShare’s Western Region Distribution Center – left the San Francisco Bay area on Monday, March 31, 2014 bound for Zimbabwe. The Trust’s work project has tremendous support from the Lafayette, California community where it maintains a small office to support its work in Zimbabwe.

robbinspic2Dr. Dan Robbins (center photo, left), with medical staff members at Harare Children’s Hospital

Dan Robbins says the J.F. Kapnek Trust hopes to sponsor a 40-foot container from MedShare in the future. “We’ll be working toward that goal,“ he added. “MedShare has been a key part of the long-term, positive impact we’re having on improving the health care of mothers, children and families in Zimbabwe.”

Click here for more information about MedShare’s medical mission team program. For more information on the work of the J.F. Kapnek Charitable trust, visit

San Jose State University Students Operate Mobile Health Clinic in Honduras

Dental issues, parasites, hypertension, bacterial infections and colds: these innocuous-when-treated medical issues can be lethal in a community lacking in resources and medical service.

In 2010, two groups of San Jose State University students committed to travel to Honduras to treat community members with illnesses like these with dignity and respect.

Volunteers serving in Honduras

A lofty goal, sure; but by recognizing the power of many and utilizing resources like MedShare’s MedTeam Store, these students served over 300 patients over the course of two trips in 2011.

Lily Yu, President of the San Jose State University Chapter of Global Medical Brigades, shared with us her account of the trip:

On behalf of the San Jose State University Global Medical Brigades team, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the MedShare Team for all of your help and support once again.

San Jose State University students serving in Honduras

In the summer of 2010, a team of 20 students came together to achieve a common goal: provide access to health care to a part of the world where it was limited. With MedShare’s help, we were able to successfully operate mobile clinics to help treat some of the most preventable health issues in San Antonio de Oriente, Honduras.

Our first medical brigade was in January 2011, where we successfully mobilized a free clinic to Honduras, treating over 300 patients with severe wounds from working on sugarcane fields, intestinal parasites, hypertension, bacterial infections, dental issues, and coughs and colds that have turned lethal due to the community’s location and lack of resources. After this first brigade, we knew that our work could not end there. In order to keep healthcare accessible to this community, my team and I decided we needed to continue our efforts.

Children in Honduras

In February 2011, we assembled another team of 25 student volunteers to mobilize a clinic back to Honduras for a brigade on August 14-20, 2011. I reached out to MedShare, and was delighted to hear that we had your support once again. Because MedShare believed in our work, we were inspired to serve San Antonio de Oriente again, where many new patients lined up to receive the care they deserved. We see the positive impact we made in this community in January and in August, and know that our efforts have helped improve their quality of life.

MedShare has empowered our organization to help change and impact the world, one healthy patient at a time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and hope to continue our efforts with your support.

If you would like to learn more about MedShare’s Medical Mission Team Store, click here.

This story is an excerpt from our January e-news. To read more – including a story of fate’s role in a Haiti container delivery and an incredibly dedicated high school volunteer – click here.

Making Art from Surplus Medical Supplies

You may know that MedShare is hosting two Faiths Act Fellows from The Tony Blair Faith Foundation, but did you know that they’re planning a World Malaria Day Art Auction?

The auction will take place on April 25, 2012. Local Atlanta artists to take part in this momentous endeavor include: Brian WalkerAlfred ContehCurtis McHardyMasud Olufani, Chris Hutchinson, Paul Benjamin, Hailey Lowe, Stephen Hayes, Whitney White, Audrey Pollock, Dana Gray, Brian Hebert,Baba Ra Fudge, and Kottavei Williams. Other artists submitting orignal and printed pieces to the auction include: Jim FiscusJoey Fischer, Brenda Ball, Clint Fluker, and Kevin Cole. More details can be found here.

In preparation for the art auction, we hosted local artists earlier this week who created a work of art entirely from unused medical supplies. Here are photos of this impressive undertaking:

beginning stages

bottles are amoung the supplies used

Do you see the face coming through?

Another angle

Every 45 seconds, a child dies of malaria.

Finished work of art.

All proceeds from the World Malaria Day Art Auction will go directly towards the shipment of medical supplies to Sierra Leone.

Volunteer Jack Horvath Prepares Boxes of Medical Supplies

Longtime MedShare volunteer Jack Horvath tapes boxes of medical supplies packed by other volunteers. These boxes will be sent to hospitals in need around the world.

Does this inspire you to volunteer? Click here to sign up – we’d love to have you!

Volunteers: We Are Thankful

This is the time of year for reflection, thankfulness, and gratitude. What is MedShare thankful for? Many, many things, chief among those being our wonderful volunteers.

At MedShare, we’re lucky to host over 18,000 volunteers a year. These generous people and groups help us sort and box the 20,000 lbs of medical supplies that we collect weekly from our hospital and manufacturer partners. The sheer volume of work they provide for MedShare is incredible, and we don’t hesitate to say that our work wouldn’t be possible without them.

Today, we’d like to recognize these wonderful groups that have volunteered in our Western Region recently:

On November 30, 2011, this Kaiser Permanente group sorted 249 lbs and packed 3 boxes.

On December 2, 2011, this Triage group packed 18 boxes.

On Dec. 3, 2011, these Chinese Bible Church volunteers helped sort 1,190 lbs and pack 85 boxes.

On Dec. 3, 2011, Tierney's group helped sort 1,910 lbs and pack 85 boxes.

On Dec. 3, 2011, these DVHS Giving Tree volunteers helped sort 1,686 lbs and pack 50 boxes.

On Dec. 3, 2011, these Safeway volunteers helped sort 1,686 lbs and pack 50 boxes.

On Dec. 7, 2011, these Abbott Vascular volunteers sorted 430 lbs and packed 81 boxes.

On Dec. 8, 2011, this Kaiser Permanente group sorted catheters and packed 39 boxes.

On Dec. 9, 2011, this Kaiser Permanente group sorted 883 lbs and packed 68 boxes.

On Dec. 10, 2011, this Chinese Bible Church group sorted gloves and packed 57 boxes.

On Dec. 10, 2011, this Kaiser Permanente group sorted gloves and packed 29 boxes.

On Dec. 13, 2011, this Chevron group sorted IV supplies and packed 35 boxes.

If you’d like to sign up to volunteer, click here. Thanks again to everyone pictured here, and the many others who aren’t.

Boys to Men Georgia Volunteers

Boys to Men Georgia, a nonprofit mentoring network, was created to guide boys 12-17 through their passage to manhood. Their mission is to help every boy become the man they want to be.

Michael with a tape gun.

Busy with activity. Unpack, label, repack.

Jordan taking pride in his work and packing neatly.

Having so much fun sorting syringes and other stuff.

On Saturday, December 10, 2011, Boys to Men held their annual service project at MedShare, and it was a smashing hit for BOTH parties. The experience was great for the boys, and we certainly appreciated their incredible sorting and packing skills.

Ben and Julio, mentee and mentor working side by side.

Since we opened up the event to family, a few moms showed up and helped out.

The Boys to Men tables in action.

These boys made a big difference. How big? In just 3 hours, they packed over 3,000 lbs of medical supplies… enough to fill a third of a 40-foot ocean container!

Jordan filling out the label that goes on the box showing exactly what's in it and when it expires.

Michael just finishing another box off.

The crew, after our 3 hours of service.

Thanks so much, Boys to Men!

Practicing Empathy: Jeff Foxworthy’s Backyard Bash Takeaway

By Clint Fluker, MedShare’s Faiths Act Fellow

It is said that knowledge is power. Therefore, lack of proper directions—knowledge—can leave you stranded and feeling, well, powerless. For example, on Thursday, September 22, 2011, I turned hurriedly into the church parking lot to find a parking space. To my surprise, the lot was nearly empty. This seemed rather strange considering the heavily advertised Jeff Foxworthy Backyard Bash started at 7:30pm and the hour was soon approaching. All over the city people have been looking forward to this event; a comedy benefit where all proceeds would go to eight Atlanta-based nonprofits, including MedShare.

Backyard Bash

Yet, here I was parked outside the church doors, alone, watching a couple bicker over the contents of their takeaway bag from the restaurant up the street. Perplexed, I called my partner Sana (a.k.a driving directions hotline) and explained my dilemma. She quickly confirmed my suspicions. I was two blocks away from Buckhead Church, not to be confused with Buckhead Baptist Church, where I was presently situated. She then berated me to move quickly because I had her ticket to the event.

When I finally arrived and we entered the Buckhead Church sanctuary together, Foxworthy had already started his routine about thought conundrums that continued to plague him despite turning 50. For example, colonoscopies, dietary habits of canines, Cajun accents, toilet paper discussions with his wife, and the innovative science of packing tissue boxes.

Then, the host of “Who’s Smarter than a Fifth Grader” transitioned from a routine about his personal lack of knowledge to a testimony about a potential wealth found through empathy. He discussed his recent work with the Atlanta Mission, an organization focused on ending homelessness. Foxworthy told us a story about a young man in college, who over the course of his life had lost his entire immediate family to suicides. The last death drove him over the edge into homelessness. He told the audience about how hearing this man’s story helped him realize this story could have been his own.

Foxworthy continued by sharing how he used to view the homeless in a negative light until he visited the Atlanta Mission and listened to their stories. “This man could have been me,” he kept saying, urging the crowd to put ourselves in this young man’s shoes. Practicing empathy in this way allows us a new understanding of our surroundings such that we see the person and not the problem.

In this light, Foxworthy explained life isn’t all about personal choices. Sometimes, we are dealt a difficult hand and just need a little help to get us back on our feet. This closing testimony reminded me of the purpose behind working with MedShare and the Faiths Act Fellowship this year. Even if we don’t have all the money, power, or knowledge in the world, we can make a positive difference if we open our hearts to each other’s stories and lend a helping hand.

To read other Tony Blair Faiths Act Fellows blog posts, visit their website here.