In the last three years, Terry Bradshaw, Laura Bush and Condoleezza Rice have made visits to Abilene. Three years ago, the Abilene nonprofit, Global Samaritan Resources, hired a new executive director, Danny Sims. The timing is not a coincidence.
Convincing celebrities to come to West Texas is one of the more external ways people have noticed Danny is making an impact at Global. After spending 23 years as a minister in Fort Worth, Danny’s passion for people hasn’t changed. It only moved a few hours down I-20.
“Coming out of ministry, he is just naturally drawn to people,” said his wife, Suzanne Sims. “He took the business on as a ministry, and even ministered to the business.”
The business concept was simple: Collect surplus goods and share them with people in need. What started in the back of a truck in 1999 has since provided millions of dollars in humanitarian aid through Global Samaritan Resources.
With four full-time employees, the main office isn’t big, but the warehouse out back measures a necessary 55,000 square feet, taking up two city blocks. What was formerly an old Coca-Cola bottling factory off of North 1st St. has become the hub for storage and shipping of supplies to more than 30 different nations.
Danny has the kind of large personality that loves playing Scrooge in the Paramount’s Christmas Carol every year, and his vehicle of choice is a brown and burnt orange 1979 VW bus. He drives it to work and parks the bus behind the Global gates””a symbol of the personality he brings to work every day. His dynamic character has changed the workplace since he joined staff in 2012.
“He has a kind and listening heart,” said Kena Jones, executive assistant at Global. “Danny has taken us to different heights. He has a lot of vision and focus for the organization.”
Sometimes, he takes off his executive director hat and counsels as a minister.
“Not to sound like a religious nut, but we pray a lot,” Jones said. “He implemented prayer at staff meetings, we pray over containers, we pray for direction.”
Ministry prepared Danny to be a nonprofit director in ways other than spiritual direction.
“He’s a great writer and speaker,” said Suzanne. “He is able to tell the story of Global and share things that catch people’s attention, that make it relate to everyday life.”
Much of Global’s story includes the countries where supplies are sent and where Danny travels to visit missionaries. On a recent trip to Northern Jordan, his clear blue eyes and thinning silver hair didn’t help him blend in. He said he was just naÃ¯ve enough to expect everyone there to be friends.
“That naivety will only take you so far in Syria,” he said.
He met a Syrian refugee named Hussein who showed Danny a video on his cell phone of an 8-year-old boy being shot in the street by the Syrian army in his hometown he had just fled.
“That is the same breeding ground now that we see ISIS advancing up to Turkey,” Danny said. “Global is a place where we want to speak into those situations with hope and supplies if we have them.”
Shipping those supplies around the world can get expensive, but Danny has the fundraising know-how. A champion of the phrase, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” Danny has befriended a vice president at the Washington Speakers Bureau. The agency that represents hundreds of world leaders and lecturers also represents the three who have traveled to Abilene and spoken at Global fundraising events. An evening with Condeleezza Rice in November filled the Civic Center and raised awareness for what Global is doing around the world.
“We do four things,” Danny said. “We do logistics, water purification, fortified food and disaster preparation and response.”
Oftentimes, they do all four. In July, when a humanitarian crisis evolved from immigrants flooding the Texas border, Danny organized a collection of goods and drove a cargo trailer filled with 230 cots and blankets to the Harvey Street Church of Christ in McAllen.
In August, Global got a call from the organization Youth With A Mission, or YWAM, asking for first-aid kits for Christians in Pakistan. Some areas of the country are beating and stoning Christians in their places of worship.
“The more we dug into, we found they don’t need first aid kits, they need wound kits,” Danny said. “When these Christians go to the doctor, they are refused treatment.” Global sent 100 backpacks each full of $50 worth of the kinds of medical supplies that could be found in an emergency room.
Most recently, in October, Global announced plans to aid those suffering from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The effort, deemed as Simple Works, plans to send at least three 40-foot shipping containers worth $50,000 each by January. Danny said he is frustrated with the complex solutions that don’t seem to make a difference.
“We defer to large institutions and then get frustrated and wonder why we don’t see results,” he said. “Small nonprofits and people like you and me in Abilene can make a difference.”
Danny laughs at the idea that Global is essentially a “hook-up artist.” They form relationships and make the connections so they can help people help people.
“Our value is to know the people we partner with by name,” he said. “Nation-building is relationship-building.”
Whether it’s knowing former First Lady Laura Bush by name, or knowing a Syrian refugee like Hussein in Northern Jordan by name, Danny works to meet the needs of those he knows.
“We like to say when we give away even millions of servings of food, we aren’t giving it away to a mass of people. We are giving it away to people we know by name.”