A Passion to Help, the Ability to Deliver

03/21/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

And deliver they do, every day of the year, night and day into countries with people in need. With the rush to help the earthquake victims of Haiti, below are a few of the many agencies that had been in Haiti before the earthquake, are there now and will be there long after the sense of urgency has passed.

AmeriCares, Save the Children and the American Red Cross each have positioned themselves as major players in aid missions that make a difference to those served. And they are really, really appreciated for the ongoing work they do to help alleviate human suffering.

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The credo: "A Passion To Help. The Ability To Deliver." is written above the doorway near the front lobby shows the deep commitment of this agency in response to disasters. At the lobby "war desk", volunteers, interns and staff have manned the phones, internet and computers around the clock in response to the earthquake in Haiti.

AmeriCares' first airlift of over $6 million worth of critical and most urgently needed emergency medical supplies arrived in Port-au-Prince this weekend to be distributed to designated hospitals and clinics for the Haiti earthquake survivors. The airlift includes antibiotics and pain medicines for survivors with broken bones, as well as other relief supplies that are in dire short supply. AmeriCares initially planned to deliver $5 million worth of aid, but due to the immense outpouring of donations, another $1 million of aid was added prior to takeoff from Miami for the final leg of a trip that began at the Stamford, Conn. headquarters. Working with partners around the world, they have developed the ability to respond in a big way with airlifts and truckloads of much needed medical supplies going to areas most severely affected.

The AmeriCares emergency response team in Haiti is working to quickly distribute the medicines and supplies to hospitals and health clinics treating the injured. They have staff on the ground, working with partner organizations to direct the donations get to the sites without delay. Corporate donations are the backbone of the organization, there has been tremendous support from pharmaceutical, medical, surgical suppliers, manufactures of antibiotics, pain relievers, bandages, etc. Donations come by the pallet, are warehoused and then directed to the next tragedy awaiting.

"It's such a rewarding feeling to know these lifesaving medicines are in Port-au-Prince and ready to be delivered to medical facilities crowded with patients awaiting treatment," said AmeriCares Chief of Staff Carol Shattuck, who accompanied the airlift. "This is the first of many AmeriCares deliveries to help the people of Haiti recover from this tragedy. We have committed $15 million worth of aid, and AmeriCares will be delivering more desperately needed medicines, bottled water and nutritional supplements in the days, weeks and months ahead."

The relief team was already on the ground working out the logistics, they secured a warehouse and have gas-filled trucks on stand-by, working with Haitian partners and established teams to make sure the donations are delivered to those most in need. There is an on the ground, up-close view blog by Haiti Response Team member Bret McEvoy. The team has been living on water and granola bars since landing in Haiti.

AmeriCares also airlifted medicines and supplies into the Dominican Republic to truck into Haiti, as well as deliver to hospitals in DR treating Haitian earthquake survivors crossing the border for treatment. AmeriCares has been working in Haiti since 1984, and since that time has delivered over $145 million in aid to the country. A global health and disaster relief organization, AmeriCares has provided emergency relief and lifesaving aid for millions affected by catastrophic disasters around the world since 1982, when founder, Bob McCauley airlifted orphans out of Vietnam and has since distributed more than $9 billion in humanitarian aid to 137 countries and counting.

Donate to AmeriCares: 88 Hamilton Ave. Stamford, CT USA 06902
1-800-486-HELP (4357) or Text donation: text LIVE to 25383 for a $10 donation from your cell phone bill.

In Haiti, numbers are hard to come by. Without mandatory recorded birth or death records, everything is an estimate: 9 million Haitians, 3 million Port-au-Prince residents and so on; it's only a guesstimate at best. Seventy percent unemployment on a good day, 90 percent on a bad day, and there are a lot of bad days. The illiteracy rate is among the highest in the Western Hemisphere, there is no required public education and private schools are costly and unregulated; childhood death from starvation occurs despite nutrition programs. Access to health care is limited and one third of the population does not have adequate food. With an estimated half million orphans before the quake, and the expected influx after, each country is going to need to step up efforts to save the most vulnerable.

Save the Children's U.S. headquarters parking lot in Westport, Conn. is full, full of staff and volunteers responding to the Haiti crisis. On Sunday, Save's President and CEO Charles MacCormack arrived in Haiti as part of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's delegation to view areas struck by the catastrophic earthquake, to accelerate the delivery of aid to the most vulnerable people, children and families and show solidarity with the people of the impoverished Caribbean nation of Haiti.

"It is a race against time to get food, water and medical supplies to the people who for five days now have received very little aid," said MacCormack. "However, even in the most challenging of situations, Save the Children has been able to deliver urgently needed food, water and medical supplies."

On Sunday, a 20-foot container sent from Save the Children's warehouse in the Dominican Republic was delivered to Hope Hospital in Port-au-Prince, allowing the organization to provide more than 2,000 people with food, water and also medical and hygiene supplies.

Since 1978, Save the Children has been in Haiti and has close to 200 staff members in the country for the immediate needs of the children and families; they are working towards long term solutions. They are working to set-up Child Friendly Spaces in areas where families have been setting up camp. These areas will ensure the safety of children in the camps and give them the opportunity to play and begin to recover from the death, injury, and destruction they have witnessed and the lack of necessities they have endured.

The media has been highlighting a tiny miracle, survivor Winnie: an 18-month-old toddler pulled out of a collapsed home three days after the January 12 earthquake that took both her parents. The rubble was two doors away from Save the Children's Haiti Headquarters and their medical experts rushed to check her as she was pulled out, dehydrated but expected to make a full recovery. If only we had more miracles.

Save the Children U.S. Headquarters: 54 Wilton Road, Westport, CT 06880
203-221-4030 (8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. EDT) or 800-728-3843 (8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. EDT)
Text donation: SAVE to 20222 for a $10 donation on your cell phone bill.

Haitians working in the United States and elsewhere send money to relatives in Haiti. They can be cashiers working in your local grocery store, cleaning women or dish washers at the hotel, nursing and health care aids, taxi drivers and in Connecticut, working in the Indian casinos. They now need our support as much as their family members.

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"There is no timeline on miracles" said Red Cross Head of Haiti Response Steve McAndrew, responding to a reporter's question of when the window of opportunity in locating survivors would pass.

American Red Cross is supporting the Haitian Red Cross and the International Red Cross in a huge way with funds, supplies, more than 400 staff and volunteers on the ground. Fundraising and support of local Haitians is evident in Public Service Announcements by First Lady Michelle Obama, asking for financial donations and the text donations ($21 million at the writing of this post) that have allowed ARC to release $11 million towards Haiti relief. Impressive!

Bridgeport, Conn. bills itself as the "Park City" with Frederick Law Olmsted designed Seaside Park and Beardsley Park, (the landscape architect who famously designed Central Park), but is now one of the poorest cities in Connecticut. Bridgeport was home to American icons PT Barnum and Tom Thumb. Yet, the city is optimistic that it is on the verge of some major economic development opportunities that will benefit residents and business owners.

In an unusual church event on Sunday, one Bridgeport pastor asked his parishioners to pull out their cell phones and text: "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 to the International Response Fund. Usually they are told to shut them off and put them away.

Greater Bridgeport United (established in 1993 in response to an earthquake in Peru) organized a grassroots street collection for the Red Cross by meeting at the mayor's office and within 48 hours, the Bridgeport Police Hispanic Society, Red Cross staff and volunteers met with a goal of raising $50,000. I donned a Red Cross vest (full disclosure, I am a 20+ year Red Cross disaster volunteer) and accompanied the local Director of Emergency Services for Response, Ronnie Tella as she walked into small stores with her collection can, explaining that she was collecting for the earthquake victims. People of modest means who had little to give gave, filling up the white can to the brim.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch was out at a street intersection with a collection can and remarked:

"If we are able to collect $50,000 in a modest city, imagine if every town and city did the same? The earthquake in Haiti is beyond anything we've ever experienced, with no government or infrastructure. What we are trying to give to them today is hope."

The Mayor has established a Haitian Command Center in City Hall headed up by former city employee and Haitian, Pierre D'Haiti, (203) 576-7201, to coordinate all of the efforts into a central location and to direct available resources to Haitian residents. In the long term, they hope to coordinate and support medical volunteers to go to Haiti to assist in the recovery efforts.

American Red Cross: P.O. Box 37243 Washington, D.C. 20013
1-800-Red-Cross or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish)
Text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 to the International Response Fund

Information you may need: Haiti: U.S. Department of State (888) 407 4747 to locate U.S. Citizens in Haiti.

A major catastrophe brings out the best and worst of people, where are you?