Progress: Spreading the Wealth

Whenever I head upstairs, I pass this quote on the wall and am constantly reminded of why I’m there and what my purpose is.

Every day when I head upstairs to the human resources area of Americares, I am greeted by a saying on the wall stated by the organization’s founder, Bob Macauley: “The fact that you can’t help everybody doesn’t mean that you can’t help somebody. So do whatever little you can—or as much as you can.” To the founder, performing any small good deed is considered helpful, a sign of progress. Bob Macauley may no longer be alive, but his ideals live within the company and are always prominent. Based on this standard, progress could be defined as simply doing a good deed for another, or encouraging others to pay it forward and perform a good deed for someone else. Although the goals of the organization have evolved under the care of Michael Nyenhuis, the CEO of Americares, the ideals of just helping one person better their community and those around them still exists today.

When most people think of Americares and the work it does, they tend to only recognize the organization’s biggest and most well-known program, gift-in-kind donations. The term “gift-in-kind” is a fancy way of describing a gift of anything other than money. However, Americares has broader strategic focuses, including emergency programs, access to medicine, clinical services, and community health.

In the context of these core focuses, progress comes in the form of increased impact. Specifically, this means providing aid to more people, whether it be through utilizing the services provided by the Americares Free Clinics (AFC), responding to humanitarian crises quickly and efficiently, or rebuilding and expanding local health facilities in order to strengthen the health care of the community. An organization like Americares would always like to see the number of people it helps or the number of humanitarian crises they are able to respond to increase, but those who work at the organization know that they have done their job if they were able to make a difference for at least one person.

One view of the medication storeroom from the Americares Free Clinic in Stamford. On the wall, you can just start to see all of the donated medications procured for patients in need.

In order to make Americares programs successful, donations are imperative. Donations are the building block that allow Americares to fund its free clinics or any other programs it decides to initiate. Most specifically, the donors themselves are the keys to success in any of the Americares programs. Through their contributions, the organization is not only able to maintain the success of its current programs but also expand those successes to encompass more people from more geographic locations previously untouched.

Although progress can be initially achieved with increases in donors and donor contributions, it would be impossible without having the strategic focuses previously mentioned. Americares would love to be able to help every person that ever got hurt, injured, or in need of aid, but realizes that the quality of the work performed might be diminished with too wide of a scope of care. Therefore, what makes Americares a great organization is its ability to make progress and successes attainable for anyone lending a hand while also recognizing that quality is just as, if not more important than, quantity.