Busy 5 years for grad from Valley Forge
Dan Kelly received a fellowship, opened a clinic in Africa, and just graduated medical school.
When Dan Kelly went to the fifth reunion of his Princeton University undergraduate class on May 30, he had a story or two to share.
He earned a one-year fellowship after his third year of medical school, in order to study in Sierra Leone.
He set up a nonprofit organization in May 2006, before going to the African nation.
He watched the nonprofit send $200,000 to Sierra Leone since September 2006.
With that money, he opened a medical clinic in January in Koidu Town, where there had been none.
On Thursday, Kelly was to graduate from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York City, which gave him the 2006 fellowship.
Kelly - John Daniel Kelly, 27, of Valley Forge - was to receive one of four Albert S. Kuperman Awards for Field Work in Global Health.
Until he went to Africa, some of his more exciting moments might have been as captain of the sculling crew at Malvern Prep, where he graduated in 1999.
But his first days in Sierra Leone bored him.
"I was working in the national government hospital," in the capital of Freetown, he said, "unsatisfied with my experience, because government health is expensive for the average person."
In a phone interview from Yeshiva, Kelly said that, in one of those first days in Freetown, he was sitting with a physician who had been phoned by the lawyer of a man who "was going to be tried for military crimes."
The lawyer was asking him "if he would come and write a medical note saying that this high-ranking military official has a heart condition that requires him to go to London."
The physician, Kelly said, began screaming, "No!"
"The richest of the rich," was who the physician was treating, Kelly said. "And I wanted to work with the poorest of the poor."
After the physician advised Kelly to spend a week with young amputees maimed during Sierra Leone's civil war, Kelly said, he found himself in a small town, talking with another physician.
"He told me that he really appreciated my vision," Kelly recalled, "but that I would need to start an organization to help them.
"I said, OK. It just happened that I was founding a 501c3 in the U.S.," a nonprofit charitable agency, Global Action Foundation.
Kelly said he had "signed the paperwork before I left" the States in May 2006. The application was approved by the Internal Revenue Service in November 2006.
"Our mission," GAF reported on the Web site of GuideStar, a philanthropic research organization, "is to provide critical medical support for those living in extreme poverty."
GAF is run from Valley Forge by Kelly's mother, Kathleen, who is identified on GuideStar as vice president/managing director.
GAF's most recent statement on GuideStar, dated June 20 of last year, reported no assets or income.
The organization currently has "about $10,000," in the bank, Kelly said, but has sent about $200,000 to Sierra Leone for its work there.
"We've been running since September of 2006," he said, "so over the years $200,000 is not a lot."
Administrative costs - salaries, fuel, stationary, communications - are running "about 20 percent" of that $200,000, high as usual, he said, for a start-up.
During his fellowship year, from September 2006 to September 2007, he said, "once a month we would go to [Koidu], set up a clinic in an amputee's house and provide free health care - Friday, Saturday, Sunday."
Kelly returned to New York City, he said, because "in the fall of '07 I had to finish my requirements to graduate, I had to apply for a residency."
With another Einstein grant, he returned to Sierra Leone last January.
"I was back for the opening ceremony," on Jan. 20 of the clinic, GAF's first, built with $45,000 to $50,000 of that $200,000.
The operation is small, he said, "a doctor and a nurse and some administrative staff."
The clinic is running well enough, he said, that "I'm comfortable to go to Sierra Leone two weeks each year, for the next three years."
On June 18, he begins his residency at the Texas Medical Center in Houston.
For More Information
Dan Kelly's Global Action Foundation will hold a fund-raiser at Swanky Bubbles, a bar and restaurant at 10 S. Front St., Philadelphia, on Thursday, from 5 to 8 p.m. Kelly is to attend.
The suggested donation is $50.
For further information, contact Kathleen M. Kelly, vice president and managing director of Global Action Foundation at 610-933-5261, at
» READ MORE: firstname.lastname@example.org
» READ MORE: www.go-act.org
The foundation's mailing address is Box 55, Valley Forge, Pa. 19481.