Bypasses Delays to Provide Private Disaster Relief
“Do not pass a man in need. For you may be the hand of God to him.” Proverbs 3:27
While the government was figuring out how to handle the situation in Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the entire island, a veteran Major League Baseball Pitcher by the name of Curt Schilling and a fleet of big-hearted citizens, took matters into their own hands AGAIN.
Schilling is a 20-year veteran pitcher with the MLB, a six-time all-star and three-time world champion who lives outside of Boston. When hurricane Harvey hit the southern parts of Texas and Louisiana, certain relief efforts were underway and there were a lot of different organizations like FEMA and Red Cross, etc., but typically
“when the cameras left and when the news crews are gone, a lot of those organizations left with them.” Steve Gagne, Chief of Staff, Operation Bullpen
Schilling spear-headed a group of citizens to bypass the government long lines and delays, and created a private organization known as Operation Bullpen. He named it Operation Bullpen because of his love for and history in baseball. In baseball, when pitching needs help, they go to the relief pitchers in the bullpen.
In less than 7 days after Schilling decided to help the people impacted by hurricane Harvey, Operation Bullpen was launched and helping people. No delays, no waiting for the government and no sitting around while people die. Then, Schilling brought on entrepreneur and now Florida-based coffee shop owner Steve Gagne as his Chief of Staff , as well as his sister Allison Schilling as Vice President - both are wearer of many hats in the fast-growing organization.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Steve for this article as my way of helping Operation Bullpen spread the word about their commendable efforts. When I saw what they were doing, I knew I wanted to get involved because I see what they stand for and all that they truly care about: Humans helping humans.
“No government. No race. No colors. Just people stepping in to do what they can.”
I have visited Puerto Rico many times for business and pleasure, and I have never seen that beautiful island look so devastated and sad. Some of the people I love the most in this world like my niece and nephews are half-Puerto Rican. The people of Puerto Rico are always warm, friendly and quick to share anything and everything about their rich history and culture.
I remember consulting for bjg, home-grown Puerto Rican banks like Doral and local businesses and government employee associations like AEELA. They are a proud and united people who deserve more help than what’s been given to them. They are people.
It has truly touched my soul so see the Puerto Rican people suffering and dying, waiting on relief that just doesn’t appear to be as urgent as it should be. This and a special tele-summit called The Collective (airing soon) are my way of doing more than just watching on the sidelines paralyzed.
How and Why Operation Bullpen Got Started
When hurricane Harvey tore through the south, there were many people in TX and LA that needed help but the relief efforts were dwindling quickly after arriving. Soon, reports were filed that some donations that were lost, stolen and/or misused by those big organizations.
“People give to big organization in hopes of helping these people that are in dire help, but because the money and donations have to go through the red tape of the big organizations, many times very little actually ends up going to relief efforts and it’s not done.” Gagne
“Schilling got fed up with watching the people in TX and LA wait and suffer, so he rounded up some people and started to gather some donations.”
Ernie Boch Jr. saw what Schilling was doing to help after hurricane Harvey and personally donated $100k cash to the project. What started out with just Schilling and a trailer that broken down half way to Texas, turned into multiple truck-loads of supplies and cash donations to people impacted by hurricane Harvey.
How Operation Bullpen Ended Up Being a Private Disaster Relief Team in Puerto Rico
Shortly thereafter, hurricane Irma hit, and Schilling knew he had to get involved. He knew that is the government was taking a while to provide relief to Texas and Louisiana, Florida was definitely going to need help. Schilling unloaded all the donations in Texas and headed straight for Florida to see how he could help.
Shortly after deciding to go all into this private mission, Operation Bullpen managed to secure a C130 aircraft from Turin Aviation Group and their CEO is Ed Franco, fuel and instructions on how to gain clearance upon arrival at Puerto Rico. But, once they were finally on land with a plane full of supplies, they were not allowed clearance by the government. They sat for a day and a half waiting.
Operation Bullpen was the first non-military, non-government, privately-funded and ran operation to get in there to help people. After meeting with the Puerto Rican Government and finally getting their blessing, the Operation Bullpen team of 19 volunteers on the ground during the first trip, including special forces, navy seals, doctors, and a vet for animals made their way through the island handing out donations and keeping a communication system on the Facebook page that enables people on the island to use their satellite phones and send messages back and forth to their families in the domestic U.S.
While on the ground, the Operation Bullpen crew is doing everything in their power to not only hand out donations but to ensure that everyone they come in contact with is left with as many supplies as possible to continue living. People that are found to be medically needy are transported back to the states for immediate treatment.
How You Can Help Save More Lives in Puerto Rico
Right now, Operation Bullpen has a total of 1.5 million pounds across cities in Florida ready and waiting to help. It has transported several hundred-thousand pounds down to Melbourne, FL for distribution to Puerto Rican evacuees coming in to the US. The rest are in hangars in Tampa awaiting distribution to local evacuees and directly to the island of Puerto Rico.
Through online giving citizens have given over $100k toward the efforts, plus all the supplies. Operation Bullpen expects to continue helping hundreds of people every day over the next week as they make the next trips into Puerto Rico.
But, they NEED our help.
They are not waiting on the government. They are not standing in line waiting for permission. Lives are at risk, and no more time can be spent arguing and name-calling. Something has to be done. And Operation Bullpen is doing just that. They have plans to make as many trips as they can to Puerto Rico to distribute supplies and help as many in need as possible.
Each trip to Puerto Rico costs Operation Bullpen somewhere around $70,000 just in fuel. The first aircraft and trip was already covered financially. More trips have been contracted, but Operation Bullpen needs help with the fuel.
Helping them means by-passing the long lines, the big disaster relief funnels and the need to media and press attention. They need the monetary donations to continue to provide 1:1 help, supplies, medical assistance, emergency transportation back to the domestic U.S., and so much more.
There is literally no other organization, operation, effort and/or collaboration like Operation Bullpen out there, and no other group impacting the countless lives of so many.
Wouldn’t you want to know you have relief in the bullpen, too? Help them continue to make a difference by donating to their campaign here: http://razoo.com/story/operationbullpen
To stay connected with and updated by Operation Bullpen, be sure to visit and like their Facebook Page.
Vanessa Rende is a Public Speaker, Entrepreneur, Business Consultant and Writer with over 12 years experience helping businesses, entrepreneurs and leaders across the globe with personal excellence, mindset mastery and killer business strategies. Vanessa is married to her best friend Matthew. They live in Florida and travel the world with their two sons. She is the founder of The Launch Room Mastermind and The Empire Lab, a Free Facebook Community. Connect with Vanessa on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube.