By Fleet Capt. Dave Mason
GOLETA, Calif. — When mudslides last year flooded Montecito, Calif., Direct Relief raised more than $1 million to help victims.
The nonprofit regularly assists neighborhood clinics throughout Los Angeles and provides aid during disasters such as the mammoth Camp Fire in Northern California.
Direct Relief was there to help during hurricanes Katrina and Maria, an earthquake in Nepal and the ebola epidemic in Africa.
It’s the nonprofit supported by Spock.
And the USS Angeles.
Zachary Quinto, who portrayed the Vulcan first officer in the J.J.-Abrams-produced “Star Trek” movies, has endorsed the nonprofit. And our ship has promoted Direct Relief for several years on this website.
Our Command Staff learned more about Direct Relief when we met Jan. 26 at the nonprofit’s international headquarters in Goleta, just north of Santa Barbara.
“We position medicines at clinics and hospitals,” Communications Director Tony Morain told First Officer Jennifer Cole, Second Officer Janice Willcocks, Command Staff member Gloria Rodriguez, Assistant Chief of Communications Lisa Sobien and me.
Tony met with us in a large conference room, which he enhanced by projecting a Starfleet delta shield on flat screens and the rear wall.
Like Gene Roddenberry’s Starfleet, Direct Relief has a distinguished history.
William Zimdin, an immigrant from Estonia, established the organization in Santa Barbara after World War II to send food, clothing and medicine to his friends, relatives and former employees. He expanded his efforts, and the nonprofit’s work grew to help the entire world.
Direct Relief is well-known for its quick response to earthquakes, floods, fires, hurricanes and other disasters in 100 countries and all 50 states. Direct Relief sends a variety of medical aid, including vaccines, cancer drugs and other medicines.
Tony gave Command Staff members a tour of the 155,000-square-foot warehouse and headquarters. The state-of-the-art facility opened in June 2018 and is much bigger than its old facility in Goleta.
Tony led us to the second floor observation deck, where we looked at aisles and aisles of medicine. In the distance was a 2,800-square-foot cold storage room for antibiotics, insulin and other temperature-sensitive medicines.
The building has its own battery, generator and solar panels for up to six months of off-the-grid power. So when there’s an outage in Goleta, the power stays on.
“Just come here,” Tony told Lisa and me, who live in an apartment a short distance from Direct Relief. “It’s the first self-contained power island on the mainland United States.”
Attached to the warehouse is a room where volunteers pack kits with first-aid and personal hygiene items.
Tony took us into the foyer and past a bulletin board showing Direct Relief’s licenses for all 50 states. Direct Relief was formerly known as Direct Relief International, but dropped the “International” from its title several years ago because of its domestic efforts.
In the conference room, Tony explained Direct Relief assists neighborhood clinics for low-income patients and their families throughout the U.S.
“Los Angeles is the highest concentration of neighborhood clinics that we support,” Tony said.
The USS Angeles is glad to promote Direct Relief and its efforts in California, across the nation and around the world.
As Spock would say, helping Direct Relief is only logical. For more information, go to http://www.directrelief.org
By Fleet Capt. Dave Mason