Los Angeles nongovernmental organization to send protective equipment and cleaning supplies to Liberia
Los Angeles, Calif., September 16, 2014— Operation USA, a Los Angeles-based international relief agency, today announced that it will send a shipment of Ebola relief supplies–containing more than 6,000 pounds of personal protective equipment including 50,000 N-95 masks and 50,000 pairs of latex gloves, as well as hospital grade cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and disinfectants–to West Africa this week. The Ministry of Health in Liberia has pre-cleared the shipment and will use the supplies to aid in treating those infected, isolating the outbreak and combating the further spread of the disease.
The organization will also aid other local groups, including West African expatriate communities in the Southern California area, by coordinating the shipment of those groups’ relief supplies by sea and potentially as part of future airlifts.
Operation USA’s deployment comes on the heels of the President’s announcement that the U.S. government will lead a major relief initiative in West Africa called “Operation United Assistance,” which will send more than 3,000 military medical personnel to the area in an effort to curb the spread of Ebola.
“We are grateful to President Obama for addressing vital needs in Ebola-ravaged countries, but the massive amount of supplies needed to support thousands of health workers and military personnel in the field will take up a great deal of the available airlift capacity heading to the area,” said Richard Walden, President and CEO of Operation USA. “As a private NGO, we’re fortunate to have secured transportation for this shipment—but, it’s important for the public to continue to support and fund ongoing relief efforts through private organizations, which are crucial to the fight against Ebola and which will not benefit from ‘Operation United Assistance’ funds.”
As of Wednesday, the official death toll had climbed to 2,400 across five countries. Experts fear the true impact may be far greater and could reach hundreds of thousands of deaths before the end of the year.
Operation USA previously responded to an Ebola crisis in The Congo (then known as Zaire) in 1995, sending an airlift of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to Kikwit General Hospital, where a localized outbreak killed 245 people.
HOW TO HELP:
Donate online at donate.opusa.org, by phone at 1-800-678-7255 or, by check made out to Operation USA, PO BOX 36188, Los Angeles, CA 90036-0188. Donations can also be made via text message: text AID to 50555 to donate $10. Text donations are collected for the benefit of Operation USA by the mGive Foundation and subject to the terms found at www.mGive.org/t.
Corporate donations supporting recovery efforts– personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks and protective suits, hospital-grade cleaning supplies, water purification supplies, and electric generators–are also being requested. Only new items in bulk are being accepted at this time. Transportation assistance–domestically and internationally by land, air and sea–is also being requested. For more information call 1-800-678-7255.
United Airlines air miles can be donated to Operation USA to support relief worker travel through United Airlines’ Charity Miles program at www.united.com.
About OPERATION USA:
Founded in 1979, Operation USA helps communities alleviate the effects of disasters, disease and endemic poverty by providing privately funded relief, reconstruction and development aid throughout the world. The Los Angeles based non-government organization offers material and financial assistance to community-based organizations that promote sustainable development, leadership and capacity building, income generating activities, education, health services, and advocacy on behalf of vulnerable people.
Richard Walden, President and CEO of Operation USA, is available as an expert source on disaster recovery as well as effective approaches to combating disease outbreaks.
Mary Dolan or Richard Walden
For as long as she can remember, Selma Rutledge has worn a piece of Girl Scouts insignia on her clothing. Whenever prompted by women, young and old, she always remarks, “I am a Girl Scout! Follow me!”
A longtime volunteer with the Gateway Council in Florida, Selma’s involvement with the Girl Scouts began after a life-changing event that no parent ever wants to experience. “It was 1979, and I got a knock at the door. The police came to say that my son, who was on a trip at the time, had drowned,” Selma recalled. “But at that very moment, this voice came to me and said, ‘You have many sons and daughters. Pay it forward.’ That’s what keeps me going.”
That little voice in Selma’s head propelled her to give back to the youth community in Jacksonville for 35 years and to make an impact on their lives. “Every child, every girl I see, I want to tell them you can make it,” said Selma. “Don’t say you can’t until you put forth the effort.”
As one of the oldest active volunteers of the Gateway council, Selma continually reaches across all boundaries and lines to make sure every girl has the chance to be a Girl Scout. In particular, through the S.H.A.R.E. (Show Her a Real Experience) program, she has helped to raise over $30,000 in the last two years which goes right to providing financial assistance to girls who want to join Girl Scouts, but couldn’t without your support. As a tribute to her fundraising efforts, a stage at North Fort was named the Selma Rutledge Stage, after her.
When lauded for her hard work, Selma humbly remarked, “I try to do the best I can. It’s not all about me; it’s about the girls. As they grow, it helps me to grow. I’m much older, and I need to see them come in behind me and continue serving.”
Selma is also the recipient of numerous local appreciation awards, including the Sustaining the Mission Award, Outstanding Leader Award, and the Thanks badge. She hopes that, through leading by example, she can inspire others to do the same. “Through Girl Scouts, young people can learn a lot by dealing with the girls. They can become great leaders,” said Selma. “If they see they can do something that can help somebody along the way to improve the world, then that’s it.”
Though Selma may be 81 years old, to her age is nothing but a number. “I walk two miles every day to stay active,” Selma said. “My children call me the roadrunner.” And she has shown no signs of slowing down.
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Camille Borders: Girls Run the World: Encouraging Political Activism in Young WomenAge: 17Hometown: Blush Ash, OhioYears of Girl Scouting: 11
“If I was suddenly met by Aladdin and his blue genie in the dry Arabian heat, I know exactly what I would wish for,” Camille said. Her wish would be that other girls and women would find the courage to step up and lead. Of course, without a genie, Camille had to make her wish come true in a different way.
Seeing that women made up only 18 percent of the U.S. Congress, Camille realized that the lack of women in politics is a major issue that needed to be addressed. The same study also showed that this lack of political ambition among women is connected to a lack of encouragement to run for office. If she could provide girls with the right kind of support and confidence, she could help fix the gender gap in politics.
How Camille is Changing the World:
Camille created a non-partisan seminar, “Girls Run the World: Encouraging Political Activism in Young Women,” to challenge girls to change the status quo. Camille used a team of women’s political organizations and a few other helping hands to organize the seminar and ensure that it would be an annual event.
Camille showed the girls what other female activists had done in the past, and then the group of 30 engaged in conversation and panel discussions with current role models. Most of the girls said they felt more encouraged to read the news and run for their student councils after participating.
Camille’s project drew the interest of a nearby school district, the state capital, and also another Girl Scout troop that hoped to share it with other girls. Camille has a dream and is working to achieve it. Her passion for helping empower girls is such an inspiration!
Camille will be attending Washington University to study Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Girl Scouts will honor Camille and her fellow National Young Women of Distinction on Sunday, October 19 at our 2014 Girl Scout Convention.
When you ask someone what they think of when they hear “Girl Scouts,” the answers will usually include cookies, crafts, and camping. But for one Alaskan dad, he thinks of his all-girl LEGO robotics team, the Electronically Overdressed Survivors.
By day, he works at the Army Corps of Engineers, but by night, “I am, in fact, a troop leader,” Bruce said with a laugh. “People are usually a bit confused by that at first, but that’s my role. I get to lead this special troop of girls as a part of the Girl Scouts Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program and get them ready for competition.”
The competition? First LEGO League (FLL), a themed robotics competition pitting teams against each other at the local, national, and international levels. This year’s theme is education, following on the previous years’ theme of natural disasters.
At the beginning of Bruce’s involvement with FLL, he was not a troop leader, but was asked to be a judge. He came home that day, as per usual, and talked to his daughter, Ellie, now 12. While talking about their days, they came to realize that Ellie was participating in the same competition Bruce was asked to judge. He accepted the position, and was able to see his daughter’s competition firsthand. “We went that first weekend and I got hooked,” said Bruce. “After five years of being involved, I became the head coach of my daughter’s team, or essentially their troop [leader].”
At face value, FLL seems like a single-sided competition: build a robot and have it perform simple tasks. However, Bruce maintains it is much more complex than it seems. As Bruce explained, “One-fourth of the competition is overall score, but there is also a robot and programming portion, where the girls describe how they designed the robot; a research component, where they investigate the theme, identify a problem, and present a solution to the judging panel; and finally, a core value component, where the participants have to demonstrate values like ‘gracious professionalism,’ not unlike the values of the Girl Scouts.”
While Bruce was, obviously, never a Girl Scout, he said this experience has given him a great appreciation for the organization, as well as volunteering. “I have to thank the Girl Scouts for sponsoring this team and letting a dad take the lead,” Bruce said. “Stereotypically, in STEM fields, people think boys would be better than girls, but we won our [co-ed] state competition last year, and we’re breaking that stereotype every day.”
But just because they’re winners, doesn’t mean they’re going to slow down. “Our plan is to win state this year again, and work our way to an international competition that’s being held in St. Louis,” Bruce divulged. “We have a great team, a fantastic group of young ladies, and I want to know much more we can achieve by working together and motivating each other.”
But as much as the girls are learning about robotics, Bruce is learning even more about himself. “Sometimes you have to keep the rough and gruff exterior, but when there are deeper issues going on, you need to turn on the empathy,” said Bruce. “It’s thrilling to be able to work with them, especially my daughter.”