What We Do

 RWF Founder Jeff Cotter with volunteer Paul Stankiewicz and Rico at an orphanage in Santa Apalonia, Guatemala.

RWF Founder Jeff Cotter with volunteer Paul Stankiewicz and Rico at an orphanage in Santa Apalonia, Guatemala.

Founded in 2000, RWF is the world's first and only all-volunteer, international LGBTQ-based humanitarian aid organization. RWF's work enables individuals and organizations to participate in the global community by donating and volunteering to help both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ people affected by natural disasters, hunger, poverty, disease, oppression and war. RWF activities increase positive LGBTQ visibility by demonstrating the LGBTQ community’s compassion, concern and leadership by building bridges with the international LGBTQ and world communities.

RWF contributes. RWF contributes by specifically working in the LGBTQ community raising awareness and promoting philanthropy in the area of world humanitarian relief. When you look at charitable giving, most people give because of personal interest or connection. RWF provides that personal connection between the LGBTQ community and the international relief world. Through our outreach LGBTQ people who have never before given internationally are now donating to worldwide humanitarian efforts.

RWF creates visibility. As LGBTQ people we know the tremendous power of coming out. RWF provides a platform and a united voice for LGBTQ compassion and concern to be seen and heard throughout the world. We are changing the way the world sees us. There are still a lot of misconceptions about LGBTQ people. Much of the world sees us as being just about sex, drugs and materialism. Our gay identity and contributions to society need to be visible. We need public support to achieve full civil rights. The visibility that RWF provides allows people to see that LGBTQ people are engaged and positively contributing to the world. We are about showing the world who we really are and what we care about.

 Barb Pallari making new friends on an RWF humanitarian aid trip.

Barb Pallari making new friends on an RWF humanitarian aid trip.

RWF elevates gay consciousness. We reach out beyond the LGBTQ community to share what HIV/AIDS and our civil rights struggle has taught us about coming together as a community in caring, giving, and loving. We have a lot to offer the world. RWF puts our highest beliefs and values into action. We provide our community with an opportunity to effect real global change.

RWF builds bridges. We provide leadership and build community by uniting LGBTQ people and resources with others throughout the world who are working to heal our planet. RWF’s global partnerships allow the communities we serve and our partner agencies to become more aware and open to the LGBTQ community. RWF brings LGBTQ people together who believe in the sacredness of life and believe that together we can heal the world. RWF provides the opportunity to affect real global change.

RWF changes the world. We believe that to change the world for the better we must begin by changing our own collective consciousness. We do this starting at home, working within the LGBTQ community by educating ourselves, our families and friends about world need and how we, as powerful individuals in a united community, can work together to heal our world.

 The Rainbow Bus at LGBT Pride in San Francisco, CA. We use the bus to deliver humanitarian aid to projects in Tijuana, Mexico.

The Rainbow Bus at LGBT Pride in San Francisco, CA. We use the bus to deliver humanitarian aid to projects in Tijuana, Mexico.

RWF's Accomplishments
RWF has distributed nearly $4.5 million in humanitarian aid (supplies and grants). Examples of our work include: food aid for Hurricane evacuees (including funding 1 million pounds of food aid for Hurricane Katrina survivors); emergency supplies for the South East Asia tsunami; medical supplies and financial aid to various projects in Guatemala; water projects throughout Central America providing safe drink water to hundreds; thousands of pounds of medicine, medical supplies, and school supplies to communities in Mexico; a landmine eradication project for Cambodia; HIV/AIDS case management program in South Africa funding the monthly salaries of rural HIV peer educators; a computer lab to a Guatemalan middle school; a benefit concert for Haiti; traveling to Washington DC to advocate on Capitol Hill for development and aid issues; summer camps for HIV positive and HIV affected children in Cuba; aid for natural disasters in Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, the Middle East, North America, South America, and South East Asia; and distributing thousands of stuffed animals to children in hospitals, schools and orphanages.

RWF was recognized for its humanitarian aid by the California State Assembly following the South East Asia tsunami and for helping Haiti recover from Hurricane Jeanne. RWF's founder, Jeff Cotter, was named one of the most intriguing people in the OUT 100 List. RWF was honored as an Organizational Grand Marshal of the San Francisco Pride Parade. California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, have also recognized RWF's work. Cotter was made a Distinguished Alumnus of Old Dominion University for this humanitarian contributions.