Dan West (philanthropist)

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Dan West (1893–1971) was the founder of Heifer International,[1] a charitable organization dedicated to relieving hunger and poverty. A native of Ohio, born in 1893, West was a member of the Church of the Brethren and graduated from Manchester University (Indiana) in 1917.[2] As a church man from Indiana, West spent two years as a conscientious objector during World War I. After working for the Emergency Peace Campaign in 1936, he traveled to Spain to serve as the director of a relief program in the Spanish Civil War. He grew weary of handing out rationed supplies and thought there had to be a better way of eliminating hunger. He gave the idea to his neighbors and many congregations in northern Indiana of donating young heifers to families in need. The involvement from his community led him to bigger dreams. His idea became an official program of the Church of the Brethren in 1942 and eventually became an independent nonprofit corporation in 1953. His phrase "not a cup of milk, but a cow" became the mantra for Heifer International, which continues on today.

Upon returning to the United States, West pushed for two more programs to be created. Alongside Alma Long, he was a key person in helping to develop the Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) in 1948. The BVS acted as an alternative to military service for war objectors beginning in World War II. At Manchester University, West spoke to the president of the University and, together, they convinced Gladdys Muir to launch the nation’s first undergraduate program in peace studies at Manchester University.

“With deep-rooted Christian values and a conviction for active peacemaking, he led by example, and motivated others to believe that ordinary people could do extraordinary things.”[3]

Biography written by Glee Yoder: Passing on the Gift : The Story of Dan West (Paperback) The Brethren Press, 1978 (reprinted 1995) ISBN 0-87178-689-3[4][5][6]


  1. ^ "End World Hunger & Poverty". Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  2. ^ "Heifer Project International". Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  3. ^ Manchester College
  4. ^ "Manchester College Alumnus: Dan West '17". Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "Dan West". Unsung Brethren. Hagerstown Church of the Brethren. Archived from the original on 14 October 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Heifer Foundation". Retrieved 24 May 2011. 

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