Partners of the Americas and Western Union join forces to help fire victims in Paraguay

Originally published
Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2004 -- Partners of the Americas and the First Data Western Union Foundation united efforts today to send $10,000 in aid to victims of a Paraguayan supermarket fire that to date has killed 399 people and left 144 missing.

The donation - made to Partners by the corporate foundation of Western Union - will likely be used to help local volunteer fire departments replace equipment that was destroyed during the rescue. Funds also are expected to help provide follow-up care to victims and their families. The relief effort is being directed and carried out by volunteers from Partners of the Americas' Paraguayan chapter with assistance from its counterpart chapter in Kansas. The Kansas affiliate plans to send an additional contribution this weekend of $2,000 and is seeking donations of equipment from the state's fire marshal office.

During its 40-year history, Partners has mobilized its volunteers to help numerous families struck by tragedy, including those affected by Hurricane Mitch in Honduras and a 1999 earthquake in western Colombia.

The cross-cultural pairing between Paraguay and Kansas is one of 60 such partnerships throughout the Americas, and represents the essence of Partners. "The enduring linkages of our partnerships provide the infrastructure to get help to those who need it most, all with the compassion of an international family," said Matthew Clausen, Partners' Vice President for Partnership Development.

The $10,000 donation was prompted by employees from Western Union's regional office who were familiar with the work of Partners' Paraguayan chapter. As part of its mission to provide emergency disaster assistance worldwide, Western Union's foundation decided to award Partners in part because its chapter already had a plan for how to help victims. "In the case of a disaster such as this, we really just hope that we can provide resources that will help in the restoration and the rebuilding of the community," said foundation President Luella Chavez D'Angelo. "And, most importantly, just begin the healing process."

About Partners of the Americas

Partners of the Americas transforms lives by addressing shared concerns of economic, social and cultural development in the Western Hemisphere. It does this in two unique, interconnected ways: By pairing U.S. states with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Partners mobilizes citizens to serve as a grassroots, people-to-people catalyst for change. Volunteer initiatives have resulted in a rich array of programs led by professional staff - such as strengthening women's legal rights in Mexico and farming operations in Haiti; to tackling criminal justice reform in Bolivia - in an effort to create sustainable opportunities for poor communities. This unique, two-fold approach has turned thousands of ideas into creative action across borders.

Partners of the Americas is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with international headquarters in Washington, D.C.