1980 Robert Kuck II, Governor Elect of then Rotary District 660, met his counterpart from Pakistan, and learned of medical needs of refugees from Russian invasion of Afghanistan. In 1981, Kuck, now District Governor, visited District Rotary Clubs and learns of many hospitals with unused medical equipment in storage that could be donated, but shipping to Pakistan proved unfeasible.
1982 Medical Equipment and Supplies Abroad, Inc. (M.E.S.A.) is formed as a World Community Service project of Rotary International District 6600 with Robert Kuck II as Chairman. M.E.S.A. becomes a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation with all Rotarians in R.I. District 6600 as members. By 1984, M.E.S.A. had sent four shipping containers of medical equipment plus a used firetruck to the Central American countries of Guatemala and El Salvador.
1989 Lima Rotarian Jack Goodnight became M.E.S.A. Chairman, participated in the founding of the Uniendo Project Fair that annually brings Rotarians from Canada and the U.S.A. to Central America to learn of projects and needs. Goodnight ran M.E.S.A. operations until 2001 except for the 1997-98 Rotary Year when he was Governor of District 6600, and Perrysburg Rotarian John Kurfess served as M.E.S.A. Chairman. By 2001, M.E.S.A. had sent 60 40-ft. shipping containers of equipment and supplies, plus dozens of used emergency vehicles, primarily to Central America.
2001 Findlay Rotarian Stan Kujawa became M.E.S.A. Chairman. Kujawa increased funding through an annual car raffle. A part-time M.E.S.A. Director is hired to supervise operations of a central donated warehouse and to arrange for shipments. Over the next four years, M.E.S.A. had shipped 63 more containers of humanitarian assistance and six emergency vehicles to seven countries in four continents around the world. After Kujawa, M.E.S.A. Chairmen were Randy Diehl (1 year), PDG Jim Shrader (3 yrs.) PDG David Daugherty (3 yrs.), PDG Bob Vincent (3 yrs.) and Bob DiNardo.
2005 A bicycle trip by several Rotarians to Chicago to attend the 2005 International inspires its organizer, Elyria Rotarian Ed Stewart to initiate an annual Rotary Tour for M.E.S.A. fundraiser that has become the primary source of M.E.S.A. financial support. In 2018 the Tour generated over $60,000 in donations. This Tour has been led, successively, by Ed Stewart (Elyria), Bill Pepple (Bryan) and Randy Box (Waterville).
2014 After moving from one donated warehouse space to another three times in ten years, M.E.S.A. was able to purchase its own 23,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Fostoria, OH, with the help of a loan from the Heinrich Family Foundation, generous donations from the Kuck family. The loan was paid off within 45 months and a “loan burning” celebration held in the summer of 2019.
Written by Ron Stoner
A BRIEF HISTORY OF MEDICAL EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES ABROAD FOUNDATION, INC.