Imagine you suddenly find out you have a house full of people coming over for dinner, but in order to get what you need to feed everyone, you have to go to three different stores. It’s not very efficient. But, a non-profit based on the South Coast which provides medicine and medical supplies to those in need around the world has been in that situation for decades.
As the demand for aid has increased, Direct Relief International has been forced to use a patchwork of warehouses. After years of planning and fundraising, DRI is moving into a giant new consolidated facility in Santa Barbara that’s so big, you could put a Costco store inside of it.
The 155,000 square foot complex cost more than 30 million dollars. It will bring all of DRI’s scattered facilities on the South Coast under one roof.
The new building is just north of Hollister Avenue, on land which was owned by the City of Santa Barbara, near Santa Barbara Airport. It’s so new the signs aren’t even up on the building yet.
The heart of the new complex is the warehouse area, which is so big it can hold 8,000 pallets. A row of 16 refrigerators which up until now were used to keep medicines cold is being replaced with a giant cold room, like you find at warehouse stores for dairy products, and fruit.
Even as the 70 year old non-profit has been moving into its new home, it’s been working on shipments for disaster zones. Some of the latest efforts have been focused on Guatemala, which has been hit by a volcanic eruption and earthquakes.
While DRI is known around the world for its medical, and disaster relief efforts, it’s also busy here in the U.S. During California’s wildfires last year, the agency distributed 1.5 million masks to help people cope with the smoke. It supplies hundreds of thousands of masks to help people affected by the Thomas Fire.
DRI President and CEO Thomas Tighe says it’s exciting to have a new home which will allow the non-profit, which is already ranked as one of the top in the world for the cost effective use of donations, become even more efficient.