Western Union Donates $40,000 in Flood Relief

Date: Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Denver. CO--(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–June 1, 2004--Days after the island of Hispaniola was struck with devastating rains, the First Data Western Union Foundation (Western Union Foundation), pledged $40,000 in disaster relief to be split between the island’s two countries. The Foundation donated $20,000 to the American Red Cross for relief operations in Haiti and another $20,000 to the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

Officials in the region estimate the death toll at 2,000 in the Dominican Republic and Haiti as a result of flooding. The constant downpours have left the land saturated and have caused swollen rivers to overflow their banks. The most flood-affected areas in the Dominican Republic are reported to be the eastern valley of Cibao, with the small town of Jimani, near the border with Haiti, being the worst hit. It is anticipated that the rains may continue for another week, increasing the danger of landslides.

"Red Cross volunteers and rescue workers from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the United States and the Pan-American Disaster Response Unit are responding to this disaster," said Casey Minix, senior officer, American Red Cross National Headquarters. "An assessment of needs is in progress, which will determine the most appropriate action plan."

"An immediate response to the disaster is essential to help our neighbors throughout the island," said Victor Mendez, board member of the Western Union Foundation and president of Remesas Vimenca authorized agent of Western Union in the Dominican Republic. "Our Foundation has been first at the table to help communities around the world, and this instance was no different."

Other Foundation donations distributed this year included a grant to Healing Hands for Haiti Foundation and Management Science for Health to provide essential medication, rehabilitation care and health supplies in Haiti. In November 2003, a grant was made by the Foundation following floods in the Dominican Republic. Other donations were made to Healing Waters International to install water purification systems in the Dominican Republic.
In addition to the Western Union Foundation charitable contributions, Western Union and its agents have a history of contributing to their communities.

Victor Mendez founded Remesas Vimenca as Western Union’s first representative in Latin America in 1989. Since then, Remesas Vimenca has grown rapidly and has contributed to the community at an equal pace. Donations have been made to El Patronato Nacional de Ciegos, El Hogar de Doña Chucha para Huérfanos, El Hogar de Ancianos, Robert Read Cabral Hospital and La Asociación Dominicana de Rehabilitación. In addition, Remesas Vimenca donated 700 computers for technological education in public schools in recent years.

The Western Union service has been offered in Haiti for more than 12 years. Currently, there are more than 180 agent locations offering the service. As in the Dominican Republic, the Western Union authorized agents in Haiti have responded to the situation. "In times of crises, our agents in Haiti, Acra Financial Services and Sogebank, go the extra mile to keep their locations open," said Peter Smith, Western Union country manager for Haiti. "Although some of our agent locations suffered from flooding, our agents recognize that the lifeline of many Haitians is the remittances from overseas."

As is the Western Union tradition, in the aftermath of other natural disasters in countries like Haiti and Dominican Republic, Western Union and its agents have rallied to help their consumers, and the communities-at-large, with much needed supplies. Most often, prime necessities have been the focus of their donations, providing staples like rice and oil, mattresses and other bedding supplies, zinc sheets for roofing, stoves and emergency healthcare supplies.

About First Data Western Union Foundation
First Data Western Union Foundation is the charitable initiative of First Data Corporation. The Foundation has an ongoing commitment to support education, health and human service programs in the United States and selected regions internationally that improve and enhance the lives of individuals, families and communities most in need. The First Data Western Union Foundation is supported by gifts from First Data Corporation, Western Union Financial Services, Inc., Western Union Agents, our vendors, our employees and other individual donors who believe in the mission of the Foundation. For more information, please visit the foundation’s Web site at .

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