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Brother’s Brother Foundation Welcomes U.S. Deputy Under Secretary For International Trade

1 Photo - Oct 6 Blog

By Kaitlyn Nuebel

Brother’s Brother Foundation welcomed U.S. Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce, Diane Farrell, to our warehouse and office facilities on September 28. During her visit, Farrell recognized BBF for its relief efforts and prompt response to the crisis in Ukraine.  

Brother’s Brother Foundation welcomed U.S. Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce, Diane Farrell, to our warehouse and office facilities on September 28. During her visit, Farrell recognized BBF for its relief efforts and prompt response to the crisis in Ukraine.  

In the seven months following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Brother’s Brother Foundation has airlifted more than 300 pallets of medical supplies, equipment, and pharmaceuticals to aid Ukrainians injured or displaced from the war.   

“In the early days of Ukraine, we [the U.S. Department of Commerce] were in direct contact with the embassy instantly. We really acted as the connection point, but it’s you all who actually are the ones getting the materials there and figuring out how to do it,” Farrell said.  

BBF’s response to the crisis in Ukraine began through a network of local and international connections. Lyn Doverspike, director of the U.S. Commercial Service Pittsburgh office, received a list of medical supplies from Andrew Glass, a Foreign Commercial Service Officer for the U.S. Department of Commerce, located in Ankara, Turkey. Doverspike sent the list to Audrey Russo, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council, who mentioned it to Robert Mangino, a radio talk show host who also serves on the board of Brother’s Brother Foundation. Mangino then mentioned the list to BBF’s President, Ozzy Samad, which set our response into motion.

Apart from boxes of medical gloves, BBF did not have many of the requested items stored in its warehouse. Russo called David Holmberg, CEO of Highmark Health, who agreed to provide the medical supplies needed on the list if BBF could ensure that the shipments could be delivered to Ukraine.

“Things couldn’t just go to Poland, there was no assurance that would work,” Farrell said.  

To ensure that the supplies would reach their destination in Ukraine, BBF’s President followed up with Andrew Glass, which led to conversations with the officials at the Ukrainian Embassies in Ankara and Washington, followed up by conversations with the Ukrainian Ministry of Health officials in Kyiv, and finally with commercial shippers in Ukraine.

Samad tracked the multiple truckloads of supplies via WhatsApp through his contact in Lviv, where it arrived on St. Patrick’s Day – along with Russian missiles which struck a block and a half away from the convoy. “But they got it in,” Samad said.   

In addition to collaborative efforts to provide medical supplies to Ukraine, Brother’s Brother Foundation and the Pittsburgh Technology Council launched a campaign to raise money for additional relief efforts. The original goal of $250,000 was quickly surpassed and, currently, more than $3.3 million has been raised for relief efforts.  

“I just got on the phone and dialed for dollars, and it happened,” Russo says.  

Farrell’s visit provided an opportunity for several others involved in BBF’s Ukraine’s relief efforts to come together and discuss their response. Also in attendance were Dan Laurent, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Highmark Health, Yurij Wowczuk, Senior Director of Global Supply Chain at Matthews International Corporation, Audrey Russo from Pittsburgh Technology Council, Tom Wentling, BBF’s Board Chair, and BBF Board Member Brian Kennedy, who arranged the visit.

“We couldn’t do it without people like Audrey, Yurij, and Dan. The corporate support we have received has been tremendous.” Samad said.

  Farrell added, “We’re grateful to folks like you who do this kind of work.”

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