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Breaking Ground

On the move: MedWish takes recycling to new levels in AsiaTown



MedWish International, a nonprofit organization that repurposes discarded medical supplies and equipment and donates them to 109 developing countries in need, is moving its headquarters from Collinwood to a 50,000-square-foot facility at E. 31st Street and Payne Avenue in AsiaTown, in the heart of the Health-Tech Corridor.
 
After nearly 25 years in Collinwood, MedWish, which works with 116 health care institutions to repurpose more than 500,000 pounds of medical equipment and supplies each year — saving them from going into landfills — has been looking for a new space in a more centralized location.
 
Lee Ponsky, a University Hospitals urologist, founded MedWish in 1993 out of his garage before moving to the company’s current Euclid Avenue Cleveland Clinic-funded building. The staff of 10 relies on 3,000 volunteers to sort, clean and package the supplies it receives.
 
“We’ve grown enormously,” says MedWish executive director Carolina Masri. “We’re very excited because it’s a newer building, centrally located and very close to downtown.”
 
While the new facility is about the same size as MedWish’s current single floor facility, the new location spans three floors, which Masri says will make operations run a bit more smoothly. “And, we’re expanding from one loading dock to six,” she adds. “The first floor will be the work and moving area, where most of the volunteers and training will be. The second floor will have offices, conference rooms and a sorting area and the third floor will be for storage of equipment and inventory.”
 
The first-floor training area will house participants in MedWish’s Skill Building Program, which is comprised of adult and youth training organizations like Friends for Life Rehabilitation Services, Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism, New Avenues to Independence, Positive Education Program and YouthAbility.
 
“We run the program Tuesday through Friday,” says Masri. “Some of them stay for an hour, some stay for four hours. It’s a win-win situation. They help us with sorting and we help them through the [organizations’] missions. It’s a beautiful program.”
 
Masri adds that she is excited to be closer to the young professional population working downtown. She says MedWish plans to host regular young professional networking events at the new facility to recruit new volunteers.
 
MedWish has been gradually moving into its new space, to eliminate as much downtime as possible.
 
The organization will officially celebrate its move on Saturday, Sept. 9 with its 2017 fundraisers, Band Aid Bash. The lounge-style event will feature food stations, music, open bar and silent auction.
 
At the event, MedWish will present Sherwin-Williams its Community Impact Award. Tickets are $175 per person.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 18 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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