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Posted: November 01, 2009

Top Company: nonprofit

Project C.U.R.E.

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In a giant warehouse in Centennial, a small group of volunteers sort through piles of medical supplies and pack them in boxes bound for Third World countries. Everything here has been donated, from the blue medical garb factory samples to the cardboard cartons that once housed copies of the latest Dan Brown thriller.

Row upon row of supplies are stacked nearly to the ceiling, some pasted with warning labels that they should be handled only by trained medical professionals - the kind of people Project C.U.R.E. helps to send to impoverished nations along with the supplies they so direly need.

While the United States is grappling with health-care reform, Douglas Jackson sees the world's medical needs from a different perspective. In the countries the CEO of Project C.U.R.E. visits, just getting pregnant can become a lethal condition.

"There are 1.2 billion people in the world - four times the size of the U.S. - who live on a dollar a day. And on a dollar a day, you just can't afford health care," he says. "So when they get sick, they die.

Project C.U.R.E., founded by Jackson's father, Jim Jackson, in the family garage in 1987, has become the largest distributor of donated medical supplies and equipment to the Third World. But while its reach has become global, the organization has remained small, relying on an army of volunteers to fill the truck trailers that are shipped overseas.

"We run in an economy where a good nonprofit will run at about 10 to 15 percent operating overhead," says Jackson, a former attorney. "We're at about 2 percent, our auditors tell me."

Thus, those cardboard boxes that came from a bookstore.

"Almost everything we have in the whole organization is donations, from the furniture in my office, to the boxes, to the equipment, to the warehouse," he says. "We take those donations, and that savings and money, and pass it along to people who need it the most."

Jake Jabs, president and founder of American Furniture Warehouse - a two-time Top Company winner and a finalist this year - has been a major contributor to Project C.U.R.E. and helped pay for the construction of the warehouse that was named for him. Project C.U.R.E also has built relationships with Newmont Mining Corp., Molson Coors and Centura Health, which sends doctors to Nepal, Rwanda and other countries Project C.U.R.E. serves.

Jackson also emphasizes the bonds the organization has built with other nonprofits, including fellow 2009 Top Company nonprofit finalists Denver Rescue Mission and Colorado Uplift, which have both brought people from their programs to work at the warehouse.

"What's great is we have a group of people in this community who are all working together," Jackson says.

- Mike Cote

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