|Founded||1979, with its California incorporation date in May 1980|
|Founder(s)||Richard M. Walden|
|Key people||Richard M. Walden, President and CEO
[fmr US Senator Gary Hart]
Dr. Louis J. Ignarro
Jonathan Estrin Board member, Gary Larsen Vice Chairman; L. Leland Whitney, Bob Johnson, Lorin Stevenson, Meg Starr, Maria Mohiuddin Verjee, Tom Moore, Jr., Drew Hagen, Dave Brubaker, Dr. Stanley Frileck, Dr. Laurence Heifetz, Michael Mahdesian(Chairman), Jack Shakely, Jeff Franklin, Amb. Derek Shearer, Julie Yannatta, Richard M. Walden, Rosario Dawson, Rick Allen, Peter Greenberg, Julie Yannatta, Dr. Paul F. O'Rourke
|Focus(es)||Disaster relief, Sustainable relief, Healthcare, Ending poverty|
|Motto||Give and it gets there.|
Operation USA (OpUSA, Operation California, or OpCal) is a non profit humanitarian organization dedicated to helping communities alleviate the effects of disaster, disease, and endemic poverty throughout the world by providing privately funded relief, reconstruction, humanitarian aid and development aid. It is exclusively privately funded, receiving no assistance from the United States Federal Government. OPUSA had a revenue of over $22 million in fiscal year 2012 and has shipped over $425 million worth of "high-priority medical, nutritional and shelter supplies" since its inception, including shipments to Haiti, Japan, Chile, Kenya and Pakistan in 2011 and 2011.
Awards and affiliations
Operation USA was part of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines in 1997 when it won the Nobel Peace Prize. Operation California was also the winner of the 1983 President's Volunteer Action Award. Operation USA has been named one of America's Best 100 Charities by Worth Magazine and, in October 2008, was named the top-rated "exclusively privately funded charity in the U.S."  by Charity Navigator. Operation USA collaborated with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the US National Laboratories at Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos to develop new approaches to land mine detection, is a member of InterAction, and is an AlertNet news partner. In 2014 Operation USA's CEO Richard M. Walden received the Honeywell Hometown Hero Award from the Honeywell Corp.
Operation California began in 1979 as "a relief organization created to provide aid to Vietnamese Boat People and Cambodian refugees", founded by Richard Walden (still active as President & CEO) and Llewellyn Werner (who left in early 1980). The organization flew "the first international relief airlift to Cambodia since 1975", delivering medicine to Phnom-Penh. Operation California had airlifted more than $3 million worth of aid by October 1979.
Since then, Operation USA has become a highly acclaimed aid organization that is involved in helping people in different ways around the world. In 1982, Operation California sent "the first private airlift from the U.S. to Poland", delivering 200,000 lbs. of medical supplies and medicine; that year Operation California also airlifted medical supplies to Lebanon. In 1983, Operation California delivered aid to the children of Vietnam and Cambodia. Operation California provided aid to the earthquake victims in Mexico City in 1985, as well as working in cooperation with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and Oxfam America, to deliver $250,000 worth of medical aid to Nicaragua. In 1986 Operation California, in conjunction with Medical Aid to El Salvador, sent "[t]wo cargo planes carrying $500,000 worth of relief supplies to earthquake-stricken El Salvador".
In 1988, Operation California began using the name Operation USA because it better described the effort and intent of the organization to represent the entire American people. In 1989 Operation USA facilitated operations on children in Vietnam who had cleft palates by a Los Angeles-based plastic surgeon, Dr Stanley Frileck. Medical aid effort was delivered to Mexico in 1990, by OPUSA in conjunction with USSR relief workers. In 1991 OPUSA delivered aid to Bangladesh. OpUSA delivered aid to war torn Somali's in 1993. In 1994 OpUSA provided earthquake relief. In 1995 the organization provided aid to Hurricane Mitch survivors in Honduras and Nicaragua. In 1999 OpUSA supplied aid to storm victims in Mexico. In 2003 OpUSA delivered aid to Iraq War victims in the Persian Gulf. The tsunami victims in Sri Lanka and Indonesia were aided by OpUSA in 2004, as well as the Mexico City Flood victims.
Operation USA, since the early 1980s, has relied on fundraising efforts featuring singers and celebrities. These include concerts, dinners, and other events. These promotions have featured:
- Barbra Streisand
- Bonnie Raitt
- Carol Burnett
- Crosby, Stills & Nash
- Don Henley
- Ed Asner
- Frank Sinatra
- Jack Elliot
- Jackson Browne
- James Garner
- John Denver
- Julie Andrews
- Kirk Douglas
- Michael Jackson
- New American Orchestra
- Plácido Domingo
- Ricardo Montalban
- Ry Cooder
- Sharon Stone
- The Buena Vista Social Club
- Tony Adams
Rosario Dawson travelled with Operation USA to Nicaragua in 2008. George Hamilton assisted with relief to The Philippines Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 as did Barbra Streisand, Rosario Dawson, Jackson Browne, Bill Maher and Judd Apatow.
Film and theater projects
Operation USA also relies on film and theater promotions to generate funds that pay for aid, including:
- Because We Care (CBS Television Special)
- Beyond Borders (Hollywood)
- Buena Vista Social Club (film) (Hollywood & Havana)
- Fidel (film) (Hollywood for Showtime)
- Mary Poppins (musical) (London stage)
- Miss Saigon (Hollywood)
- Roll Bounce
- The Killing Fields (film) (Hollywood & Cambodia)
- Victor/Victoria (Broadway)
Eloise at The Plaza (Disney TV)
- "OpUSA Shipments". Operation USA. Archived from the original on 2008-03-07. Retrieved 2011-09-28.
- "Charity Navigator - Operation USA". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- Robert Scheer (1997-10-14). "Banning Land Mines Is a No-Brainer; Clinton still has time to find his backbone, follow his instincts and sign the Ottawa treaty.". Los Angeles Times. p. 7. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- "Reuters AlertNet - News partners". Reuters. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- Freeman, Rena (1980-06-11). "Human Kindness". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- ROBERT J. CAMPBELL (1979-10-25). "Students Form Group to Aid Cambodia: Plan Lobbying, Petitions, Fast, and Concert". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- "Operation California Bidding a Benefit". Time Magazine. 1979-12-10. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- "Brown Assails 'Neglect' In Relief for Cambodia". The New York Times. 1979-12-06. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- "There Is Nothing, Monsieur". Time Magazine. 1979-12-10. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- "Operation California Bidding a Benefit". PR Newswire. 1982-02-17. p. LexisNexis. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- KATHLEEN HENDRIX (1989-09-12). "Airlift to Beirut: Relief and Red Tape. Operation California Finally Manages to Get Medical Supplies to Lebanon". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- Jody Jacobs (1983-11-02). "Operation California Bidding a Benefit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- "Operation USA Appeals For Public Support To Aid Victims Of South Mexico Floods". Reuters. 2007-11-03. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- "Aid for Nicaragua". The Washington Post. 1985-07-06. p. A14. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
- "No Title". PR Newswire. 1985-07-03. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
- "Quake Relief Groups Allowed To Land At San Salvador Airport". The Associated Press. 1986-10-18. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
- "U.S. medical team operates on Vietnamese children". United Press International. 1989-03-15. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
- Shannon, Don (1990-06-01). "U.S. and Soviet Relief Workers to Join Forces". Los Angeles Times. p. 14. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- Ferrell, David (2007-05-04). "Burnout Hits Relief Network Too many catastrophes abroad and too many burdens at home are blamed for the lackluster public response to recent appeals for help.". Los Angeles Times. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- Kelleher, Kathleen (1993-01-10). "Mission to Somalia Poses Danger for Relief Worker Famine: Operation USA's Neil Frame will take medical supplies gathered by the L.A.-based relief agency to field hospitals in the war-torn African nation.". Los Angeles Times. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- Bryant, Rebecca (1994-02-12). "Donations Sought in Quake Relief Effort". Los Angeles Times. p. 2. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- Banks, Sandy (1998-11-17). "Reach Out to Lift Up Hurricane Survivors". Los Angeles Times. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- Cardenas, Jose (1999-10-19). "Sending a Rainbow of Relief After the Floods; For many Southland Latinos, aiding Mexico's storm victims is a means of honoring homeland ties.". Los Angeles Times. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- "AID GROUPS AMASS RELIEF GEAR". Long Beach Press-Telegram. 2003-03-19. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- "GROUP READIES AID". Long Beach Press-Telegram. 2004-12-30. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- "Los Angeles Based Operation USA Appeals for Funds to Aid in Myanmar (Burmese) Cyclone Disaster". Fox Business Network. Retrieved 2008-06-04.[dead link]
- "Operation USA Responded to Earthquake Devastation in Sichuan, China; Agency Appealed for Funds to Rebuild Schools and Clinics, which, as of September 2010, it had rebuilt 2 large primary schools outside Chengdu and 5 village level health clinics outside Chongqing.". PR Newswire. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
- "Operation USA Aided Midwest Flood Victims. Earthquakes in Haiti (2010) and Chile (2010) as well as flooding in Pakistan (2010) also generated major relief actions by Operation USA including the construction of a $1 million primary school in Jacmel, Haiti. After the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Operation USA a seniors activity center (1) in partnership with Honeywell Hometown Solutions after air and sea shipping emergency relief to partner agencies. The Gap provided 119,000 winter garments for northern Japan through Operation USA. In 2013, Operation USA aided victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey and tornado victims in Oklahoma City. As 2014 is underway, a major new project involves the Native American Reservation at Pine Ridge, South Dakota and projects in Henan Province, China.". AlertNet. Retrieved 2008-06-26.
- Daniel Southerland (1982-01-26). "Foreign aid, Hollywood-style: cut red tape, go to the top". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
- Bill Higgins (1991-10-22). "Operation USA Raises $200,000 at Benefit". Los Angeles Times. p. 3. Retrieved 2008-06-06.
- Kathy Blumenstock (2007-01-26). "Her newest role: Surprised recipient; Julie Andrews will receive the Screen Actors Guild's 43rd Life Achievement Award on Sunday.". Los Angeles Times. p. E15. Retrieved 2008-06-06.
- ANDREW EPSTEIN (1980-03-16). "BENEFIT TV SHOW RAISES $1 MILLION". The Los Angeles Times. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- "USC Annenberg School for Communication to Host Special Screening on USC Campus Of Paramount Pictures' 'Beyond Borders'.". PR Newswire. 2003-09-25. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- Janice Page (2005-09-03). "'Roll Bounce' slides back to the '70s with an earnest, feel-good vibe". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- "Real-Life Participants Of "The Killing Fields" To Hold Press Conference". PR Newswire. 1984-11-13. Retrieved 2008-06-09.