Hands of Hope Northwest began in 1992 in the basement of a house owned by College Church of the Nazarene in Nampa, Idaho, fondly dubbed by some as the Rat Hole! That house was used until 1999. The ministry was conceived when Sharon Griffith, a Mercy Hospital employee, saw medical equipment being thrown away. She realized it could be reused for the benefit of people without adequate healthcare. Sharon’s vision was built on by Liz Murtland, the Founding Executive Director, and a group of volunteers who wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. In 1992, they shipped a 4-foot cube of medical equipment to Papua New Guinea. And in the same year a group of Northwest Nazarene College students took 17 duffel bags of medical supplies to Bucharest, Romania, on a mission trip.
From 1992 until 1996, small shipments went to Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and Thailand, while mission teams delivered supplies to Venezuela, El Salvador and Costa Rica.
In 1996, B.Edgar Johnson, the first Board President, helped incorporate Hands of Hope Northwest as a separate non-for-profit organization and Liz Murtland became the Founding Executive Director.
Liz Murtland and her husband, Rich, served for 20 years until she retired in 2011. Liz forged countless relationships with medical staff in clinics and hospitals in impoverished communities around the world. This paved the way for shipments of medical equipment and supplies to the poorest of the poor in dozens of countries. Donated equipment gave mobility to the disabled. Medical supplies saved lives. And tons of equipment was saved from landfills. Liz was recognized as Citizen of the Year in 2010 by Mayor Tom Dale.
By 1997, the growing ministry purchased a 40-foot storage container stored on College Church property. And so began a series of 40-foot container shipments to multiple countries, the first to Bulgaria, Ukraine and Mozambique.
From 1998 to 2003, storage shifted from Tiny Bellamy’s trailer, to Dennis Harmon’s warehouse on Northside, to Edmark Chevrolet garage, to Scales Unlimited, to Super Thrift and finally to Holly Shopping Center. A sincere thank you to everyone who helped with the moves!
In 2003,with increased funding, and a 50% donation from an anonymous donor, the ministry broke ground and built our present-day Ministry Center at 1201 S. Powerline Road in Nampa. With 5,000 square feet, volunteers and local businesses helped construct a Distribution Center to house donated medical equipment and supplies, and staff offices. We moved in the same year on June 27 and dedicated the building on September 21. Small and large shipments greatly increased thereafter.
B. Edgar Johnson, the first Board President of Hands of Hope NW, dedicated the site. He has since passed away and we have created a Memorial Endowment Fund in his name. The fund honors his contribution as a founding member of the HoHNW Board and for his service on many other Boards in our community.
In 2004, Hands of Hope started a community equipment loan program to help area residents who could not afford to rent or buy medical equipment for home care. Former NNU professor, Eula Tombaugh, had a heart for the disabled in her community and operated the ministry out of her garage until the equipment could be stored in the Distribution Center in 2006. Eula passed away in 2017 and we celebrate her vision and achievement. Today we have over 900 items in our inventory. Thousands of people have been able to borrow durable medical equipment thanks to Eula’s initiative.
B. Edgar Johnson, Eula Tombaugh, and Liz Murtland are shown with Terrance Smith, former Board President.
By 2005, mission team requests for medical supplies had become more frequent, so we were able to supply more and more short-term mission trips.
In 2011, when Liz Murtland retired, Todd Aebischer took over as the Executive Director. He had just returned from the mission field with his wife, Connie, after Nazarene Mission Aviation closed down. A pilot and missionary, Todd brought valuable experience from serving overseas in poor communities.
Todd saw the addition of a new semi-trailer for the ministry to add to our existing truck. This enabled us to deliver more product and helped get our name out in the community.
Also during Todd’s tenure, Hands of Hope NW was able to buy the neighboring property, thanks to the generosity of many donors, opening the way for an eventual larger Distribution Center.
And with the land behind the Ministry Center already donated, future expansion will be possible. That’s because nothing is impossible with the God we serve.
In 2012, Todd was recruited by the Nazarene Asia-Pacific Team and asked to return to Manila in the Philippines. Todd has been helpful in receiving shipments and sending videos and photographs back to HoHNW HQ since then until he moved to another mission field.
In 2012, David Ferdinand stepped in the gap as Hands of Hope interim Executive Director. David’s connections in the community in his former role as a public servant proved beneficial to Hands of Hope NW. Dave opened doors to media coverage, helped bring a fresh look with a new web site, and continues to volunteer his expertise in public relations.
On January 1, 2014, David graciously passed the baton to Debbie Wheeler, recognizing that her seven years’ experience with Hands of Hope NW, her missionary work in Asia, and her passion for medical ministry was a good qualification to take the lead. Debbie led the ministry for 4.5 years and opened new doors for shipments, increasing the countries served to 74. She helped raise greater awareness of the ministry in the community, including organizing the Spring 2018 Tea for Hope fundraising event at the Chateau des Fleurs. On March 31, 2018, Debbie retired as the Executive Director.
On her retirement, Debbie passed the baton to Todd Durbin who became the next and current Executive Director on April 1st, 2018. Todd was very familiar with Hands of Hope NW operations, had a great rapport with the volunteers, and had managed the finances for several years. Todd represents the ministry in multiple forums and is passionate about sharing our vision and goals to the broader community. He hopes to see the ministry grow to reach more people in need. He organized the Spring 2019 Brunch for Hope fundraising event at the Boise Centre and oversaw the parking lot expansion in 2019, adding 17 new parking spaces. In March 2020, he headed up the Idaho PPE Drive in Boise, and has brought the ministry through a rocky time during the Covid-19 pandemic. During his tenure to date, Todd has increased countries served to 77 and the number of large shipments to 140 by July 2021.
Volunteers from a variety of churches and denominations serve faithfully every week, and give approximately 10,000 hours of their time every year.
If the Hands of Hope Northwest story has inspired you, please consider a gift that will change lives. For only $15,000 we can send a container of medical equipment and supplies worth $150,000-300,000. Your financial donation is multiplied 15 times in value to those we help. For every $100 donated, we give away at least $1,500 of medical equipment and supplies to people in need.