Humanitarian organization’s Northern Virginia arm was born out of a local doctor’s need to help those in need.
By Shelby Robinson
Barry Byer, a Falls Church-based physician, was first inspired to take part in mission work after traveling to Moscow in the 1980s.
Twenty-five years later, he is now a trustee of the Virginia chapter of the Brother’s Brother Foundation, an organization focused on providing humanitarian aid both home and abroad.
Recognized by Forbes magazine as an All-Star Charity nationally, the BBF will hold its Operation Brother’s Brother Gala on May 3 at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington.
“The event is a celebration of six decades of providing high quality humanitarian aid globally and in the United States and is a celebration of the new expansion of Brother’s Brother into Northern Virginia,” said Byer.
Twenty years ago, Byer founded a Falls Church-based humanitarian aid organization, called CrossLink International, that provided medical resources to people in need around the world. He was inspired by his trip to Moscow, after which he started collecting donations of clothing, blankets and sending it to Moscow through USAID.
Eventually Byer narrowed his focus to medical supplies. By collecting unused, often surplus supplies from hospitals, medical supply companies and doctors, CrossLink was able to supply people who were affected by natural disasters and impoverished areas with needed aid.
In 2012, a Pittsburgh-based organization called Brother’s Brother Foundation merged with CrossLink International, extending its operating base to Merrifield.
“Under the BBF banner in Northern Virginia, there has been a marked increase in both the pipeline of donated product (supplies, equipment, and pharmaceuticals) and product distribution/partnering with medical mission teams, Third World hospitals and disaster relief efforts globally including right here in the United States,” Byer said.
Byer also says the re-appropriation of unused medical equipment helps the environment in addition to helping individuals. “Working with BBF, these organizations are able to recycle unneeded items instead of putting them into landfills. These recycled items are put to good use positively impacting people’s lives.”
Now retired from his practice, Byer works as a trustee of Brother’s Brother Foundation. He frequently leads medical missions to places like Honduras and has led the Merrifield location of Brother’s Brother through the re-appropriation of 140,000 pounds worth of medical supplies since officially becoming part of BBF.
Because Brother’s Brother is a nonprofit organization, it relies heavily on donations of products, services, and money.
“It takes thousands of dollars to re-supply depleted mission hospitals, send 20 to 40 foot containers of lifesaving supplies to the neediest areas of the world or to equip humanitarian medical teams. In 2014, BBF wishes to continue sending containers of requested donations and equipping global medical mission teams at no charge to team members.”
Operation Brother’s Brother Gala is a celebration designed to increase awareness of the organization’s presence and raise money in a way that is fun for everyone involved.
Operation Brother’s Brother Gala will take place on the evening of May 3. Tickets for the black-tie optional event are $175 each. For more information about Brother’s Brother Foundation, go to www.brothersbrother.org.
Operation Brother’s Brother Gala
6 p.m. – Silent Auction and Hors D’oeuvres
7 p.m. – Live Auction and Dinner
Army Navy Country Club
1700 Army Navy Dr