FRIEND SHIPS OVERVIEW
Friend Ships headquarters, Port Mercy, is located in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The Gulf Coast base provides a home for our staff, ships, boats, aircraft and all the trucks and heavy equipment necessary to carry out our job. Port Mercy is also home to Sea Hawks, a two year program for young men and women between the ages of 18-25. It is designed to develop extraordinary students by building character spiritually, mentally and physically while being trained and participating in domestic and international relief missions. The program serves as an opportunity for young Christians to establish core values prior to entering the workplace or mission field. Students learn disaster relief, community outreach and maritime skills, self-defense, become physically fit, gain work skills, develop character and participate in Bible studies.
For our first 20 years, Friend Ships primarily utilized two 5000 freighters to transport food, medical supplies, clothing, building materials, emergency vehicles and other commodities to people in need. Spirit and Spirit of Grace delivered many thousands of tons of humanitarian aid, free of charge, to Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua), the Caribbean (Haiti, Antiqua, St. Lucia and St. Kitts), Eastern Europe (Croatia and Albania), the former Soviet Union, West Africa (Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana) and the Middle East (Israel).
Our focus later grew to include medical and disaster services. We obtained and began to utilize three 180' vessels including M/V Hope and Mersea, former Coast Guard buoy tenders and M/V Integrity. Integrity carries supplies and personnel with a rear cargo door for fast and efficient off-loading in all circumstances. Every year natural disasters destroy entire communities, leaving thousands of people homeless, their crops and possessions destroyed and their livestock dead. People need medical assistance, food, shelter and supplies to help them make it
through the devastating time. They need to know that there are people who are concerned about them. Our team of dedicated relief workers show God's love and compassion. These ships work in our hemisphere and have traveled to Honduras, Haiti, the island of Nevis in the West Indies and on the U.S. coast, to Galveston, New Orleans and Pensacola, carrying out medical missions and disaster relief. The Friend Ships help meet needs created by a disaster by being able to arrive swiftly at the port nearest the disaster site with food, supplies, emergency equipment, portable medical clinics, medical teams, relief personnel, helicopter support, emergency broadcasting, spiritual support and other needed equipment, supplies and services. The ships also serve as home base for personnel.
Friend Ship Courageous is our most recently acquired ship. This vessel is fully equipped, in excellent condition with many modern features. It is ideal to help Friend Ships meet the needs of thousands of people. Currently we are preparing this ship for an extended voyage to Israel.
Friend Ships Unlimited is dedicated to fulfilling the Biblical scriptures that teach us to help people in times of need and to encourage others to do likewise. The organization works through the collection, delivery and distribution of food, medical supplies, clothing, and building materials and by providing medical services, disaster relief and training. We provide aid to people of all races, nationalities, and religions. Programs give help to children, families and individuals who are impoverished, refugees and/or victims of natural disaster or war and to the institutions who assist them. Friend Ships operates with all full time and part time un-paid volunteers, working within the US and in many areas around the world. We own and operate our own ocean-going ships, aircraft and trucks to deliver and distribute commodities, provide services and training. Friend Ships is a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible organization, registered with the IRS, the California Registry of Charitable Trusts, and the Louisiana and California Attorney General's office.
Friend Ships was founded under the name Park West Children's Fund as a charitable outreach of Park West Polo & Hunt Club. At that time, the charity sponsored recreational and therapeutic programs for battered, abused and handicapped children. Two years later, Park West acquired MV Spirit, a 5000 ton ocean-going cargo ship, and began restoring the vessel for international missions of mercy.
The following year we established StoreHouse One, a food distribution program for needy people in the United States. Through StoreHouse One, 66 million pounds of food has been collected and distributed to needy families and individuals in the U.S. The organization now provides international and U.S. disaster relief, medical and humanitarian aid and training.