Wings of Hope (charity)
|Focus||Aviation nonprofit lifting people in need toward health and self-sufficiency|
|U.S., Americas, Asia, Africa|
Wings of Hope is an aviation nonprofit organization which helps communities worldwide become more self-sufficient through improved health, education, economic opportunity, and food security. It was founded in 1962 in St. Louis, Missouri, and currently conducts operations in 11 countries, including the United States. The organization was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 and 2012, holds a 4-Star rating on Charity Navigator and is a GuideStar Gold Participant. In 2015, 92.3% of the organization's budget was spent on its program services.
Wings of Hope was founded by four businessmen from St. Louis, Mo., who had heard of a young woman, Sister Michael Therese Ryan, who was the pilot of a small, fabric-covered Piper PA-18 Super Cub in the Turkana Desert region in Kenya. The founders are William Edwards (St. Louis businessman), Joseph Fabick (Fabick Tractor Company), Paul Rodgers (V.P., Ozark Air Lines), and George Haddaway (famous aviation advocate and publisher of Flight magazine). The story of Sister Ryan using aircraft to bring relief to impoverished famine victims in a vast, remote region of Kenya inspired the men to raise money for a stronger, all-metal aircraft to better aid the effort. After the founders raised the necessary capital for a new Cessna U206, legendary aviator Max Conrad piloted the plane on an epic journey across the Atlantic from St. Louis to Nairobi, Kenya. The story was well publicized and brought about a large response from the international community – from people seeking assistance and needing aircraft, to those who wanted to help by offering their time, money and services. From this initial effort of four men on a mission to help those in need, Wings of Hope has grown into a global aviation nonprofit working in 47 countries since its birth in 1962.
Medical Relief and Air Transport Program
Wings of Hope established its Medical Relief and Air Transport (MAT) Program in 2003 to serve the very real need for health care access that exists in the United States. While the U.S. is home to the world's best doctors and most advanced health care facilities, many families have no way to reach these lifesaving specialists when medical crises threaten the lives of their children and loved ones. The MAT Program is the only free medical air transport service in the U.S. with specially equipped aircraft that can accommodate stretchers, wheelchairs and medical equipment. In 2015, the MAT Program provided 929 patient flights, accommodating both patients and caregivers.
International operations and impact
In addition to the United States, Wings of Hope conducts operations in the following countries:
- Belize: Support provided to the Belize Emergency Response Team (BERT), which provides all emergency land and air ambulance service in the region. BERT transported 336 patients in 2015.
- Cambodia: English language peer tutoring program for 587 children in three schools covering 20 villages.
- Ecuador: Sustainable food program that has distributed approximately 10,505 chickens to 1,127 families in 35 villages in the Amazon rainforest since 2010.
- India: Partners with Nari O Sishu Kalyan Samitee (NSKS), a local non-profit organization, to help poor women form self-help groups and start small businesses so they can earn income to feed their families. In 2014-15, NSKS trained 1,180 women—and 1,046 are currently pursuing entrepreneurial activities such as making leaf plates, stone statues and incense sticks.
- Kenya: Partners with Transfedha in providing microloans and business training to help women in rural areas start small businesses. In 2014-15, Transfedha served 457 clients.
- Myanmar: Converted two diesel buses into mobile medical units that can see up to 10,000 people in a 3-4 day clinic.
- Nicaragua: Provides emergency air evacuation and free medical/dental clinics for indigenous people living in remote villages. Effort served 364 people in 2015.
- Paraguay: Serves 3,720 people yearly through monthly and special medical clinics.
- Tanzania: Serves 25 settlements, every two weeks, with fly-in medical clinics serving those with no access to health care. In 2015, the total number of patients treated, vaccinated, provided with prenatal exams or evacuated to a medical facility was a record 31,099, including 19,557 children who received vaccinations.
- Zambia: Supports FlySpec, a flying medical charity that provides orthopedic and reconstructive plastic surgery to the rural poor. In 2015, FlySpec saw 4,754 patients and performed 1,317 corrective surgeries.
The following are members of the organization's Honorary Council.
- Roy Clark, entertainer, who donated his first plane to be raffled in support of the organization
- John Danforth, former United States senator
- Elizabeth Dole, former United States senator
- Carl Edwards, professional stockcar driver
- Harrison Ford, actor and pilot
- Barrington Irving, pilot and STEM educator
- Sherrill Kazan, President of the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations
- Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State
- Justin Francis Rigali, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia
- Kurt Russell, actor, pilot
- Thomas P. Stafford, former astronaut
- Patty Wagstaff, aerobatic national champion pilot
- Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to travel faster than the speed of sound
The following are various forms of awards and accolades.
- Ladue News Charity Awards Finalist (2015)
- Nobel Peace Prize Nominee (2011 & 2012)
- Four Star Rating on Charity Navigator
- GuideStar Gold Participant
- Award of Achievement for Humanitarian Efforts presented by the Ninety-Nines, International Organization of Women Pilots (2012)
- What's Right with the Region presented by Focus St. Louis (2011)
- CFO of the Year Award for the Small Nonprofit category presented by St. Louis Business Journal (2011)
- Community Service Award presented by the William T. Kemper Foundation (2006)
- World Trade Center Saint Louis 2005 "Global Ambassador Award"
- National Aeronautic Association National Public Benefit Flying Award (2004, 2006,2007, 2011, 2012)
- Health Care Heroes Award in Nursing category presented by the St. Louis Business Journal (2006)
- Spirit of Chesterfield Award presented by the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce (2004)
- George Washington Honor Medal presented by the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge (1997)
- Distinguished Achievement Award presented by The Wings Club (1995)
- Adela Riek Scharr Medallion (1993)
- Lindbergh Award presented by the St. Louis section of the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics(1993)
- United Nations Humanitarian Award – United Nations
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- "Delia Greer; Nursing career on land, in the air spans five decades" St. Louis Business Journal. Retrieved October 8, 2006.
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- "MTBC Donates an Airplane to Wings of Hope". Business Wire. Retrieved August 2, 2016.