2021 was a year of transition and change, as the world languished through the continued impacts of the pandemic and compounding emergencies – from hurricanes to wildfires and tornadoes – that uprooted livelihoods and caused heartache.
As a result, this year also brought Direct Relief into contact with many groups and individuals working for the good of the world, and for those in their communities. A few of their stories are here, sharing the same throughline: a crisis unfolds that seems insurmountable, yet those nearby step up to do what they can – in the moment – to help others.
It’s an inspiring response that takes place often in our world, but rarely captures attention on a large scale or makes headlines. But those of us that work at Direct Relief see this pattern frequently, particularly after emergencies. A crisis reveals what’s truly important – in stark relief – and people unify to help one another through heroic acts of service.
2022 is now upon us, and if the future remains dark and uncertain, these individuals hold up a candle to light the way. Their examples shine for the rest of us.
Please enjoy, and Happy New Year from Direct Relief.
Facing a shortage of masks needed to protect health workers from the risk of Covid-19, members of the medical community took the initiative to create nascent domestic PPE industries across the continent, Noah Smith reported.
Founded by a small group to help those left behind during the HIV epidemic, Palm Springs’ DAP Health has been a leader in helping fight Covid in the Coachella Valley. Noah Smith interviewed one of the group’s founders about the past and the work they’re doing now to serve the community.
Direct Relief, partnering with Bayer, donated IUDs to nonprofit women’s health care providers across the United States. Talya Meyers interviewed health providers about what the donation meant to patients involved.
Amarica Rafanelli interviewed Bernina Venua, the Incident Commander of Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation’s Covid-19 response. The health center was the only medical facility serving all 28 villages in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, an area covering more than 45,000 square miles with a population of roughly 7,500. Health center staff went above and beyond to get vaccines to rural areas, including by charter plane.
Mental health services can be challenging to access in the U.S., and even more so for undocumented people. La Familia Counseling Center offers mental health services, Covid-19 vaccination services, and other community resources for all patients, regardless of immigration status, Amarica Rafanelli reported.
Activists used their own experience with homelessness to help others overcome vaccine hesitancy and build trust, Amarica Rafanelli reported.
Noah Smith interviewed those involved with free and charitable clinics that operated at high levels to address needs in the U.S., even as donations to support services dipped.
Four physicians spoke to Talya Meyers about learning to fight the disease – and care for a close-knit community.
Noah Smith reported on Medspire, a local organization in Northern California that was formed to address health needs after the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and destroyed the northern California mountain town of Paradise.
Charitable pharmacies are a medication safety net for those who can’t afford their medications and would otherwise be turned away, Noah Smith reported.
Talya Meyers interviewed those involved with the Self-Employed Women’s Association who were working to mitigate the pandemic’s effects, from educating people about Covid-19 to providing mental health support.
After providing a medication cold room, Direct Relief supported pediatric cancer group Tumaini La Maisha with specialized packing materials and cold-chain expertise, Talya Meyers reported.
To support newly arrived people from Afghanistan, Direct Relief works with a charitable pharmacy and a U.S. Marine to coordinate a shipment including more than 14,000 bottles of Pediasure, Similac and Ensure, hygiene kits, Dove soap, and disinfectant wipes, reported Noah Smith.
Managing Diabetes Takes More Than Medication. This Health Center is taking a Patient-Centered Approach
At Zufall Health Center in New Jersey, pharmacists and social workers are collaborating to help patients get their diabetes under control, reported Amarica Rafanelli.
From providing reliable health information to connecting patients to social services, these workers play an essential role, increasing health equity in their communities, Talya Meyers reported.