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Over 90% of every dollar donated goes to those in need

Over 90% of each donation made to Kirwin International Relief Foundation goes directly to those in need. This web site as well other outreach materials are paid out of our own pocket or are done pro bono.
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KIRF working with both new friends and neighbors to make a difference

KIRF has been helping people help themselves have a better future in the United States since 2005 and in several ways. For disaster relief or a sustainable development project we purchase only what is asked for and then deliver those relief supplies directly to those in need. We are able to do this efficiently with the assistance of local non-profits, educators, business leaders, and medical professionals. Working with locally respected individuals with long histories in a community ensures that our assistance is truly helpful and culturally appropriate. We have been doing youth-orientated community service projects in our home town of Ventura since 2004 as well as small but gratifying and inspiring projects involving young people at our KIRF field work locations.

KIRF helping the Homelss Children's Playtime Project in Washington, DC for the National Day of Service
Some of the educational toys, playground equipment and playroom furnishings purchased by KIRF for the Homeless Children's Playtime ProjectThe volunteer founders of Kirwin International Relief Foundation (KIRF) headed to Washington, DC on January 16 to provide assistance for homeless children to heed President-Elect Obama’s request for Americans to do a community service project to honor the spirit of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. He called it a National Day of Service. While in DC they also attended the inauguration. Read more about KIRF helping the homeless in DC for National Day of Service >

Hurricane Katrina Relief: Getting relief to families who lost their homes with local educators & humanitarians in Mississippi.
KIRF Co-Founder Angela Kirwin with kids made homeless by Hurrican Katrina at campground near Picayune, MSOur inititial goal was modest due to our small size and funding: help a few families get back on their feet with living supplies they lost when Hurricane Katrina destroyed their homes. The specifics of how we were going to do this was worked out after we got to the disaster area and met with local people affected by the hurricane who we met through mutual friends and business aquaintances here in California. Read more about KIRF's Hurricane Katrina relief >

KIRF Roots & Shoots Youth Community Service Projects in Ventura and Ojai, California
Los Angele Times article Peace Day KIRF Roots & Shoots with Patagonia's Great Pacific Child Development CenterKIRF has been coordinating community service learning projects for children every year since 2004 with students at local schools in Ventura and Ojai, California. Beneficiaries of our youth service projects include: local Ventura beaches (beach cleanups with the City of Ventura and students from Will Rogers Elementary and Pierpont Elementary), the local Arroyo Verde Park and Peace Day celebrations in Ventura and Los Angelese (with kids from Great Pacific Child Development Center, Will Rogers Elementary and Pierpont Elementary). KIRF Roots & Shoots involves and inspires kids to help other kids farway with our Katrina Holiday Card Exchange (with students at Will Rogers Elementary, Open Classroom/Blanche Reynolds Elementary and Great Pacific Child Development Center), our friendship bracelt project (with Arusha Roots & Shoots group in Tanzania). Our latest project was helping out at the the Earth Day Unplugged environmental educational outreach event at Oak Grove School in Ojai, California.

Since our projects involve young children we don't publize their details on this web site. However, our projects have been profiled by media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times and links to the articles will soon be available here to read on this web site. Reports about our projects have also been published for members to see on the Roots & Shoots web site (requires a Roots & Shoots membership login).

Roots & Shoots is a service learning program of the Jane Goodall Institute with thousands of small and large youth groups all over the world.

Read more about KIRF Roots & Shoots on the Roots & Shoots web site.

Photos: Top (Homeless Children's Playtime Project, Washington, DC) by Mark Kirwin, Middle (Kids made homeless by Hurricane Katrina in Picayune, MS) by Timothy Burdick and Bottom photo is a from the Los Angeles Times, Ventura California Edition.

DC Homeless Children: Helping the Homelss Children's Playtime Project in Washington, DC for the National Day of Service
February 13 , 2009
by Angela Kirwin

Four volunteers of the Kirwin International Relief Foundation (KIRF) headed to Washington, DC on January 16 to provide assistance for homeless children to heed President-Elect Obama’s request for Americans to do a community service project to honor the spirit of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. He called it a National Day of Service. While in DC they also attended the inauguration.

Mark Kirwin with receit for learning supplies & toys for the Homeless Children's Playtime Project with volunteers pushing carts of purchased suppliesOn the Saturday before the Inauguration, the Kirwins met up with volunteers for the a local Target and Best Buy to purchase wish list items for the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project non-profit that serves homeless children at several Washington, DC transitional living shelters. The Kirwins’ two children helped the volunteers chose the best toys and art supplies—stuff that they know kids like. Carpooling with the volunteers they delivered about six shopping carts of needed educational toys, art supplies and furnishings to a local shelter later that day. The Kirwins and their children returned to the shelter on Wednesday and helped build some play structures and played with the kids. Ironically, the shelter’s Playtime was closed on the National Day of Service for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

“Their lives are hard and several of them have suffered a lot. It was so gratifying to see them excited about their new toys and have fun in a loving and safe environment,“ Angela Kirwin said. “Every kid needs to feel special sometimes.”

Two volunteer staff members & one of their beautiful clients at the Homeless Children's Playtime Project in Washington, DCThe Homeless Children's Playtime Project ( non-profit serves children in local emergency and transitional homeless shelters by giving them a safe and enriching place to play in the evenings. “This is the one place they can go be with their peers and get a lot of love and attention,” Nicole French, a Site Coordinator at the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, said. “Now with KIRF’s help we’re able to make the space more hospitable and kid-friendly for Playtime,” Ms. French said.

News Release "Ventura Family Witnessed History and Helped Homeless Children in Washington, DC " (2/3/09) >



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Hurricane Disaster Tips:
Lessons Learned from Hurricane Katrina in Petal, Mississippi
January 11 , 2006
by Angela Kirwin with Petal City Alderman James Moore

We learned a lot in post-hurricane Katrina Mississippi about what to expect after a major disaster hits and how to prepare for one. Our generous host, tour guide and local KIRF volunteer James Moore – alderman for the woodsy subburb of Petal and owner of Moore's Bike Shop in the neighboring city Hattiesburg – gave us an insider's view of what happened to their town during the worst hurricane in memory. The eye of the hurricane passed over Petal with winds in excess of 150 mph that turned the ubiquitous pine trees into destructive missles. Even though the town was approximately 80 miles north of the Gulf Coast the hurricane's powerful winds tore up many of the homes and buisinesses in the area. Nearly every single home had a blue "FEMA" tarp covering its wind damaged roof when we visited six weeks after the hurricane hit.

He described to me how the local city council and citizens of Petal struggled to maintain a civilized society in the first weeks after Katrina hit on August 29th. People were taking care of each other with no water and power service, no cell phone reception, closed stores and banks and gas stations, roads blocked with fallen trees and power lines and a crime wave of looting. I asked him how a town in California or elsewhere should prepare for a large-scale disaster. My question and his interesting answers are below.

Angela Kirwin: I remember that Petal needed to procure it's own source of fuel for emergency vehicles and needed more generators for electricity. Are there any other areas of disaster preparedness that should be addressed? I'm thinking of evacuation plans, shelters for residents and their pets, long-term assistance or relocation for displaced working class folks, crime prevention, emergency water and food aid within 24 hours and debris removal.

James Moore: Most of what I'd impart about our lessons on preparedness are included in your paragraph above.  I'd rate the importance of preparedness as follows:
       1.  Water and sewer must be able to operate without the power companies being in operation.  That means generators for both water pumps and sewer facilities.  You cannot deliver water into homes if you cannot also carry sewage away. 
       2.  Food.  Families should have several days of nonperishable food on hand at all times.  Part of your preparedness plan could be to constantly run PSA's to remind the public of this need. 
       3.  Merchants should all have a plan outlining how they will make their food products available in a fair and orderly manner without the availability of electricity.  The public should consider "cash" as part of their emergency stockpile as checks or plastic will be useless in a disaster.
        4.  Banks need a plan to quickly give customers access to their money in the form of cash.  Panic sets in when folks have money they cannot use to get the things they desperately need.
         5.  Ice.  Most of the usual sources of ice will see their inventory of ice melt before they are able to begin selling it.  Ice is needed for two functions.  First it allows families to make their frozen and refrigerated foods last the 3 to 4 days before governmental food sources are available and secondly many medications must be refrigerated.  Locations should be established where medications may be stored by the public.  Our police department provided this service via several refrigerators at the station powered by the stations generator.  Pharmacies could also offer this service provided they have generator capacity.
       6.  Law and order.  The most stressful aspect of Katrina was the realization that we were on the brink of a break down of civilazation.  The peace was very fragile.  The police need a plan of curfews that are rigidly enforced and the public needs to know ahead of time what to expect from law enforcement.  There must be a contingency to lock up large numbers of citizens even to the extent of waiving some of the due process normally afforded in usual times.  Looting in Hattiesburg was only brought under control when the media reported the existence of a "fence city" erected by the police where ANYONE on the streets after 6PM spent the night.  There will be plenty of time to argue civil philosophy following the disaster–maintain order during the disaster with any controls that are effective.
       7.  Communication.  Land lines and cell phones will be useless.  Your city must have a system of communications that is satellite based or cell phones with "walkie talkie" capability.  All governmental agencies within your jurisdiction must share this technology - your fire must be able to talk to your police and your police must be able to talk to the sheriff departments.  All must be able to talk to the public works departments.

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