Changing the World
Costco members doing
their part to help make the
world a better place.
A homeless program
DURING THE 1980s, Costco member George McDonald worked as a marketing executive in New York City. He palled around with guys like pro-football quarterback Joe
Namath, and led a life of wine, women and song. One day it occurred to him that he
wasn’t doing anything worthwhile, and after hearing about a homeless woman who
froze to death outside Grand Central Terminal on Christmas Eve, the former altar boy
investigated. He was utterly appalled at what he discovered. On the lower level of the
terminal was a refugee-style camp of roughly 1,500 indigents.
That day McDonald found something else, too: his calling. He and a friend spent
the next 700 nights feeding the homeless on a nearby street corner. “We’d buy food,”
he says, “and there would be 500 people in the line.” While serving meals, McDonald
listened, and the thing he kept hearing was that the men and women really wanted a
job and a home, but circumstances were holding them back. So with the help of the
mayor’s office, McDonald secured a city contract that led to the Doe Fund (dedicated
to the “Jane Doe” who had frozen to death), his award-winning charity that offers
paid job training as a path to a paycheck and permanent housing.
Founded in 1990 with 70 people, the Doe Fund ( doe.org) today has an annual
budget of $50 million, and it has been successfully replicated in cities across the
United States. Participants receive food, lodging and transitional work that pays
above minimum wage. Once they advance in the program, “Doe Funders” can
choose from several occupational tracks, from building maintenance to culinary
arts, with many finding full-time jobs even before graduating, often through one
of the Doe Fund’s 500 employer partners.
“The whole idea here is that work shouldn’t be a four-letter word,” says
McDonald, whose organization has transformed the lives of tens of thousands. “We as
a society should encourage people to work, which will help them feel better about
themselves, and bring all of the ancillary benefits that go with that.”—Craigh Barboza
DOGS AND CATS in many countries suffer from horrifying conditions. Seen as little more than guarding or
mousing servants, these animals are beaten, starved, poisoned and shot. They are hit by cars (often deliberately)
and left to slowly die by the side of the road. In some
areas, people hang dogs and drown cats.
After living and working overseas since 1991, in
2007, Costco member Karen Menczer started the nonprofit Animal-Kind International
(AKI; animal-kind.org), a service
that supports animal welfare organizations in 11 countries: South
Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Namibia,
Malawi, Ghana, Jamaica, Honduras,
Armenia, Bosnia and Suriname.
The aim is not just to provide care,
but to make sure that existing organizations, started and run by local
people, can continue to provide care,
and ultimately change the way these
animals are perceived.
“In poor countries so many
other needs compete with animal
welfare,” says Menczer. “That’s where
AKI steps in—raising visibility about
and funds for AKI’s partner organi-
zations, connecting donors directly to the organizations.”
Projects might consist of building roofs over the
dog kennels at the Save the Animals Armenia shelter,
USPCA Haven and purchase vet supplies. AKI funds
also might pay for the purchase of dog and cat food,
and salaries of shelter workers, or go toward providing
education to children and adults about the humane
treatment of animals.
“What is really striking
about this is that just about a
decade ago, you wouldn’t
have seen Ugandans
adopting dogs and cats
as pets,” says Menczer,
who lives in New
Mexico with her husband
and three dogs and one cat
“And without the example
of the local people, who run
AKI’s partner organizations,
people wouldn’t know what it
is to laugh, play with and just
watch a dog or cat and feel
total joy,” Menczer adds.
“AKI’s support to these
countries has helped build strong, well-
respected organizations that are changing atti-
tudes about pet ownership.”—T. Foster Jones
The truth about cats and dogs
Karen Menczer (above) in Ghana.
Right: In Ghana, Grace, a friend
of the photographer, holds a
puppy on her wedding day.
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is a big part of
the Doe Fund.