Charity Profile: Project CURE
Every day in hospitals and clinics across America, countless medical supplies and equipment are disposed of and never used. Seeking to turn this opportunity into life-saving support, Colorado-based nonprofit Project C.U.R.E. has worked for over 30 years to outfit under-resourced and vulnerable healthcare communities around the globe.
“Good healthcare in our world is one of the most critical elements of human life,” says Jan Mazotti, director of communications for Project C.U.R.E, which stands for Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment. The sentiment exists at the heart of the nonprofit, which was founded in 1987 by Dr. James Jackson after visiting a clinic near Rio de Janeiro that routinely turned away people seeking care due to lack of basic supplies. Upon returning home to Colorado, Jackson called on medical industry connections who helped him gather $250,000 of medical equipment that was bound for Brazil a month later
Today, large C.U.R.E. distribution warehouses are located in Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, with smaller centers dispersed throughout the country. Thousands of volunteers (this year, around 30,000 volunteers are expected to donate their time) retrieve cast-off equipment weekly from hospitals and clinics, collecting items ranging from beds to tools to wheelchairs. This vast network has allowed the organization to increase the output of its C.U.R.E. Cargo program exponentially: Following an intensive on-site assessment, 145 semi-trailer-size cargo containers packed with high-quality donated medical supplies ranging in total material value between $400,000 to $600,000 were shipped to in-need hospitals, clinics and community health centers worldwide over the past year. An anticipated 200 more will be sent out by mid-2020. “One of our main dictates for the organization is we would never just go into a country or community: we are always invited in with a partner that is in-country,” says Karen Rosen, director of events.
The organization has grown to include efforts like C.U.R.E. Clinics, which bolsters health communities through educational programming ranging topically from general wellness to specialty surgical clinics; C.U.R.E. Kits, another way to get medical supplies into the hands that need it most; and Helping Mothers Survive, which trains nurses and midwives on modern techniques with the aim of reducing maternal mortality. “Everything that we do in the community following our cargo containers is to strengthen the community and to strengthen the education of the doctors and nurses working [there],” Rosen says. To date, the organization has worked in 134 countries including 50 last year alone, among them Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana and Mexico.
Project C.U.R.E. receives project-specific government funding, which means it depends on initiatives like Negroni Week to back the C.U.R.E. Cargo program. “That type of funding is so important for us because it allows us to provide container support,” says Rosen. “If we have a church outside of New Jersey who is raising money to send a container to Zambia, and they have worked really hard on raising that money and they are 80 percent of the way there, with our container support program and the funding that we’re going to get through Negroni Week, we’re going to be able to give them that funding to help reach their goal.”
Successes from the C.U.R.E. Cargo program and other initiatives, including reducing maternal mortality rates in Zambia, Uganda and Nigeria by an average of 38 percent during a five-year window, are hopeful milestones that are on track to Project C.U.R.E.’s long-term objective: “Our vision one day is to be told that we don’t need to come back because we’ve built a healthcare infrastructure that supports the people of these countries,” Mazotti says.
Story by Emma Mannheimer // Photo courtesy of Project C.U.R.E.