GOLETA, Calif. - Leaders in Santa Barbara have made an historic change to the City Charter in an effort to help a local non-profit doing good, worldwide.
Goleta-based Direct Relief is bursting at the seams after outgrowing its current warehouse and office space and doubling its volume of medications and medical supplies in the last year alone.
"We've grown a lot in the last five to ten years," said Bhupi Singh, Executive Vice President, COO and CFO of the non-profit. "Right now we've got people sitting in trailers outside which is really, really sort of problematic. We've got three different locations right now, we're going to centralize everything in one place and create a nice office space for our employees."
In 2014, Direct Relief brought in $430 million dollars worth of medications and medical supplies; In the last fiscal year that number jumped to $860 million, making it appear as though the 30,000 square foot warehouse was shrinking.
"Direct Relief is the only non-profit in the U.S. licensed to distribute pharmaceuticals in all 50 states," said Sandy Seale, the non-profit's capital campaign manager. "We now handle generics. We didn't use to do that and that has increased our volume considerably in the last year. Doubled volume in the last year."
The more than 60 year old local non-profit is in the planning stages of moving from its S. La Patera Ln. location in Goleta to an 8 and a half acre parcel blocks away on Wallace Becknell Rd. off Hollister Ave., which is Santa Barbara Airport property.
"The city had to go back and revise the Charter to be able to sell the piece of land because it's airport city land," said Singh. "This particular piece of land is just the exact sort of property that will serve us well."
The parties involved are in the last stages of finalizing the sale, which is expected within the next couple of months.
Building from the ground up enables the agency to more than triple the size of its current warehouse and add much-needed additional space: a 30,000 sq. ft. building along with a 100,000 sq. ft. warehouse and 25,000 sq. ft. of office space.
"It's been wonderful," said Seale. "But we need more. More space, better climate control."
Longtime volunteer Ingrid Lindgren, a member of the Holy Rollers group that meets each week to rip and roll used, high-end hotel sheets into medical bandages, puts it best: "We actually need a little bit more so we can do more good for people."
Projections are fluid but if all goes as planned, Direct Relief will open its new Santa Barbara location at the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.