McKinney is one of the most charitable cities in Texas, and Mission Regan is another example.
Mission Regan was started in late 2011 by the husband and wife team of Josh and Courtney Willis, and she describes the organization as “all about bridging the chasm between people who have too much and people who don’t have enough.”
She quotes from part of the mission statement, which continues: “We collect medical supplies, medicines, and equipment, then send them to those who are in desperate need – locally and globally. We focus on what we can learn from the people we are giving to, rather than what we are doing for them, and aim to sustain and continue relationships with the people we help. We believe that we can all help each other, regardless of our status.”
The idea for Mission Regan fell into place for the Willis’ on a trip overseas.
“We were praying about adoption, and my husband was adamant about adopting inside our country,” Courtney said. “Then he went to Uganda on his second mission trip, and he called me and said ‘Honey, I’ve found our son.’
“Four months later, we came home with our son Owen.”
So how did they come up with Mission Regan?
“When we first met Regan [in Uganda], he was a very, very, very, very sick little boy,” Courtney said. “He was so sick that I was scared to check on him because I felt if I looked in his crib, he wouldn’t be alive.
“We were told he had pneumonia. We thought he had something like tuberculosis or AIDs. All he needed was Roceph, an antibiotic that fights pneumonia, among other things. We contacted a friend who got it sent to us, and by the time we left, he was walking and playing like a normal little boy.”
The Willis’ were unable to take Regan (pictured at right) when they adopted Owen, but the little boy was never far from their minds as they spent the next year thinking about what they wanted to do for kids like Regan in countries less fortunate than the United States.
“It started with boxes at urgent care clinics,” Courtney said. “We just asked them to put the stuff they didn’t use, or only used once. And when we went to pick them up at the five clinics we put the boxes, each was overflowing.
“The more we thought about it, we wanted to do more. Much more.”
Josh Willis is a firefighter/paramedic for the Town of Little Elm. He also works for Pediatric People as a tech part time.
"Mission Regan was started after saving one boy's life,” Josh said. Now ... we have affected more than we can count.
"Mission Regan just makes sense. It connects people who want to help others with people who need the help.”
And Mission Regan has continued to grow, with Denton Regional Hospital and Medical City Dallas helping out, plus fire departments in Little Elm and Flower Mound. They also have a couple of individual clinics online too.
”We have a friend a Medical City Dallas and she told us we could come get what they had,” Courtney said. “So we went to the location, and she took us around to the loading dock, and we thought it was going to be a little stuff.
“But it was loaded with supplies of all kinds, all expired and unused. Honestly, it was probably over $50,000 worth of medical supplies, and all of it was going to be thrown out. She told us we could take as much as we wanted. So we loaded up two cars and got what we could.
“This program is a win-win for all. They [hospitals] don’t have to pay for the recycling of the stuff, we take care of it. We come get it, sort through it, get rid of the stuff that can’t be used – which is very little.”
Much of the supplies that are donated are past the expiration dates, but are still usable.
“A lot of what get are OB Kits,” Courtney said. “But with so many women having C-sections, they have to wrap it up and chunk it. It has everything you need. And people in third world countries are dying in childbirth.”
Mission Regan also seeks to help as much locally as it does internationally.
“We donate a lot of our formula and diapers to The Samaritan Inn,” said Courtney. “We definitely try to do local work. We help out as much as we can. Hope’s Door is a client and we help in our community too.”
Another plus to Mission Regan is they look to minimize costs when sending supplies overseas.
“We find the most effective way to get the stuff to places in need is with people we know or organizations, someone we can find that we know who is going overseas,” Courtney said. “It costs $80 for extra suitcases [international fee]. A shipping crate to Africa costs $15,000. We can send five suitcases for much, much less.”
So where does Courtney Willis see Mission Regan in five years?
“We would love to see this take off,” she said. “We would love to have some large storage space, maybe an airport hangar or warehouse space. We have no idea where to get funding, right now we struggle just to find a truck.
“My husband dreams of the day he can work for Mission Regan full time.”
Josh adds: "We want to help as much as possible. Whether it be locally or globally – we will do what we can to help those in need.
“Our family has been blessed by so many people. It is only right for us to do the same as much as we possibly can. We just take it one day at a time, and put one foot in front of the other. God always makes a way."
And what about the namesake of program – Regan?
“We would love to know where he is now, but we don’t have any contact,” Courtney said. “We know he was placed back with family, which could be a good thing or it could be a bad thing, we aren’t sure how to feel about that.
“Clearly God put him in our life for a reason. One day we hope to see him again.”
For more about Mission Regan and how you can help, visit their website at missionregan.org.