Direct Relief International is enjoying a $67.1 million high.

The Santa Barbara-based, nonprofit organization Direct Relief International sent a record $67.1 million in medical relief to 53 countries in 2000, beating its previous high of $52.8 million in 1999. Approximately 10 million people, including earthquake victims in Turkey, received help directly from these medical shipments.

Direct Relief is hoping to become a nationally recognized organization and has taken strides toward this goal in the last year by recruiting national figures, Direct Relief International Public Relations Officer Ken Grimwood said.

"Previously, we’ve been known mostly in California," he said. "We have a new CEO. His name is Thomas Tighe, and he spent the last five years in charge of the Peace Corps, so he is very knowledgeable in the field."

Direct Relief has been recognized by Forbes magazine for its nonprofit fundraising efficiency and also by the state Waste Management Board for its recycling efforts, as well as noted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy as one of the 20 largest nonacademic charitable institutions on the West Coast, Grimwood said.

"We send relief to countries strictly on medically orientated crises," he said. "Used medical equipment is often donated by U.S. hospitals, and then our trained staff fixes the equipment in order to accommodate the country it’s going to. Instead of this equipment ending up in a landfill, it ends up saving lives."

"We are proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past year," Direct Relief International President and CEO Thomas Tighe said. "And we look forward to further expanding the scope of our mission in 2001."

– Jennifer B. Siverts