Humanitarian International Services Group

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Humanitarian International Services Group is a New York state non-profit corporation and a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. Its incorporation date is December 14, 2001. HISG specializes in private sector resource mobilization and management for crisis response and community development. Simply stated: “We connect resources to needs”. As a non-governmental organization, HISG provides support services to US and international for-profit and non-profit organizations for crisis response and humanitarian developmental initiatives.

Since 2001, HISG has mobilized and moved over $20 million in humanitarian aid and operates at less than 10% handling costs. Having prototyped new and innovative solutions, HISG has established an institutional capability to mobilize and manage private sector resources. HISG has now established a network of warehouses across the USA and around the world to work collaboratively to aid the poor and needy.

Humanitarian International Services Group typically initiates projects in areas where there is the most need, or areas where there is minimal other humanitarian assistance. A simple explanation of their mission to “serve the underserved.”[1]

Origins[edit]

In the summer of 2001, four friends, Kay Hiramine, Mike McCausland, Rob Mabary and Michael Mastrodonato and their families vacationed in Steamboat Springs, Colorado in the scenic Rocky Mountains. Each of these men had successful backgrounds managing either businesses or non-profit organizations and had determined that they wanted to do something together to give back to the world. They decided to form a non-profit humanitarian aid organization to help orphans, widows and needy around the world, especially in the most oppressive areas of the globe.[2]

On September 10, 2001, the newly formed HISG held its first strategy development meeting.[3] The following day (9-11) emphasized the need for people to reach out and care for others around the world. All four founders invested a significant amount of time and personal funding on due diligence to clearly understand the needs and challenges involving global crisis response and development operations. HISG principals interviewed many well known figures in the humanitarian aid arena and interfaced with multiple subject matter experts while forming HISG’s organizational strategy.[2]

Within a few months, HISG personnel wrote many concept papers addressing the need for strategic alignment and mobilization of private sector resources as a means to meet humanitarian needs and carry out international development initiatives.[3] The private sector consists of corporations, non-profit groups, educational institutions, faith-based groups and civic groups (i.e. Rotary International, Kiwanis etc.);[4] and each of these entities has skills, personnel and resources that are often overlooked is crisis response situations.

By December 15, 2001, HISG was delivering medicines and medical supplies to a Red Crescent Hospital in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Traveling from Peshawar, Pakistan to Jalalabad over the Khyber Pass, HISG delivered over $20,000 worth of medicines to the 250- person hospital.[3] At the hospital, the doctor thanked the HISG team and cried openly as he looked at bottles of antibiotics he had not seen in years.

Purpose, Vision and Strategic Initiatives[edit]

The Purpose, Vision, Mission and Strategic Initiatives for HISG provide the foundation and focus for all activities and initiatives undertaken by the organization.

Purpose
HISG exists to support relief and development initiatives across all impacted sectors of society. [5]

Vision
HISG’s vision is to establish a stable environment with sustainable solutions that benefit the local population.[5]

Strategic Initiatives
HISG’s mission is to connect resource providers to end users in areas of need by focusing on accomplishment of the following strategic initiatives:

  1. Develop a humanitarian operations resource network.
  2. Mobilize action-oriented coalitions of related practitioners.
  3. Facilitate the development of stakeholder and societal sector networks.
  4. Establish a global network of local community and regional coordination centers.
  5. Organize networking and training venues.[5]

Milestones[edit]

Afghanistan, 2001[edit]

Only a few months old, HISG entered Afghanistan – an active war zone - to deliver medicine and winter clothes to people made homeless by civil war against the Taliban.[6]

Asian Tsunami, 2004[edit]

HISG leadership was on the ground in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, near Ground Zero only eight days after the Tsunami. The networks that HISG is connected to sent shipments of medical supplies, foodstuffs, dental equipment, house wares, health and hygiene products, clothing as well as a medical team to treat people at one of the only hospitals in the area still standing.[7]

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 2005[edit]

Hurricane Katrina emphasized the need for cooperation between private sector organizations and between the private sector and government agencies. HISG was asked to set up an operations center to organize and process all information coming in from emergency responders, aid organizations, and government agencies. They were commended for their efforts by Admiral Timothy Keating of United States Northern Command in a report to the United States Senate .[8]

President’s Volunteer Service Award, 2007[edit]

Kay Hiramine, HISG’s CEO, was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award for his work during Hurricane Katrina. He received the award from President George W. Bush in a ceremony at the White House. [9]

World-wide operations[edit]

HISG divides their projects into two categories: community development and disaster relief.[10] Community development projects move communities away from poverty and instability toward a more secure lifestyle and sustainable economic solutions. Disaster relief helps to minimize the economic impact of catastrophes that would impede the community development process. All of HISG’s disaster relief operations are carried out with a focus on long-term community development.[10]

Community development[edit]

HISG has created a model for Holistic Integrated Societal Transformation (HIST), an approach to community development that addresses the different needs across all sectors of a community.[10] For example, a direct cause of poverty in a community may be the lack of education. An indirect cause of poverty may be that because of conflict in the region, children are too frightened to go to school. A traditional, unilateral approach would consist of simply constructing a school building. The HIST approach, however, would help a community define its own needs before offering “outside solutions.” HISG would then support the community in building a school, addressing security issues in the area, clean water, public health initiatives, and other projects that would improve the educational opportunities.

Another key attribute of the HIST model is that it focuses on helping to change perceptions within the community. One of the major challenges in development work is that most impoverished people feel like they have no control over their own circumstance. They see humanitarian assistance as a sort of welfare system, in which the “rich West” decides who gets aid based on which communities present the greatest need. Similarly, many humanitarian organizations have a “needs-focused” approach and feel that outside resources contributed to a community are the only solution to poverty. The HIST model takes a different approach by helping people in the community adjust their worldview to focus on the assets and resources already in a community, and determine how the community can use those to begin to lift itself out of poverty.

HISG works with a wide range of implementing partners and local connections to integrate different sectors into development initiatives and maximize impact. Since 2001 HISG has supported projects in over 100 of the world’s most impoverished nations.[10]

HISG business initiative has evolved into a global network with local impact. Initiatives are ongoing in 13 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Disaster relief[edit]

HISG has also been involved in large-scale disaster relief, from Afghanistan to the Gulf Coast to Indonesia.[11]


Communities in poverty are always the ones that feel the harshest effects of disasters. Thus, disaster management has become a major focus for organizations that want to help those in poverty. With global resources being stretched thin, collaboration and coordination become critical. HISG supported the growth and development of the International Disaster Response Network (IDRN). The IDRN provides a web-based Virtual Emergency Coordination Center (VECC) and focuses the efforts of a global community to respond across 14 disaster response skill sets. The IDRN has trained more than 5,000 people around the world to be ready for and respond to disasters.

Regional offices[edit]

HISG's main office is near Denver in Palmer Lake, Colorado, but the organization also has international offices in Nairobi, Kenya; Geneva, Switzerland; London, England; Amman, Jordan; Vancouver, Canada; and Singapore.

References[edit]