To summarize it best, IMAS was created by the original founders due to their love for the beautiful islands where most of the members were born, and where their heritage and upbringing was first formed and enriched. Their vision and desire were to give back and to make a positive difference for these islands which include Cres, Losinj, Ilovik, Susak, Male & Vele Srakane and Unije, in Croatia.
Having a successful life with their families here in the United States and going back home to Croatia every summer to spend their vacations, some of them started communicating among friends to hear everyone’s idea as how to best help the health services on these islands. Especially after the war of the 1990s, the country was in dire need for improved hospital equipment and other vital medical supplies. The same help was also needed in some of the towns, small villages, and remote smaller islands, for which the Croatian health ministry was not able to fully provide at that time.
Various news articles were very alarming about the condition of the main Hospital in Mali Losinj and in other health facilities. There was also concern for dialysis patients from these islands. They traveled by ferry to inland every other day, three hours each way, just to stay alive. These concerned individuals knew that they must try to help in some way and make a difference for dialysis patients, as well.
A group of these concerned individuals got together in January 2002 and decided to get going with this idea. They invited members of various other social clubs with heritage from these islands to join them.
The first meeting was set for February 24, 2002 at Istra Sports Club in Astoria NY, where 64 people attended, including a reporter of the Croatian Chronical newspaper in New York. Everyone was overwhelmed and very encouraged with the success of this meeting and with everyone’s strong desire to join this cause.
They all agreed that there was a need to form an organization with the state of New York, through which they would be able to receive donations, to purchase and donate the equipment for these islands.
The important first step was picking a good name for this new organization. “Islands Medical Assistant Society” in short IMAS, was first choice, with the “Logo” being a symbol of a heart next to the IMAS name, which translates to “Imas Srce” in the Croatian language. This was a perfect meaning and a perfect symbol in both languages. IMAS’s appeal to the donors was to give with an open heart and to make a difference for the people on the islands of Cres, Losinj and their small surrounding islands of the same archipelago.
With the help of an attorney, on October 17, 2002, Islands Medical Assistance Society – IMAS, was legally formed with the 23 registered board members, and approved by the State of New York as a non-for-profit humanitarian foundation, created in the USA to support the health services for the people on the islands of Cres, Losinj, Ilovik, Susak, Male & Vele Srakane and Unije in Croatia
As a new organization, the members looked forward to holding regular monthly meetings to discuss and plan the needed fundraisers and communications with the health officials on the islands in Croatia.
On February 11, 2005 IMAS was also approved in the State of NY as a tax-exempt organization under the 501(c)3 status.
The very first small fundraiser was organized by our late member Anita Pagan. It was a raffle for a portable TV, which earned the first $900 for IMAS.
The first large fundraiser was the “First Annual Gulf Outing” at the Rockaway Hunting Club in Lawrence NY, on October 15, 2002, where 60 players attended with a great success.
The Second large fundraiser was the “First Annual Dinner Dance” at La Fortuna in Fairview NJ, on February 2, 2003, where 437 guests attended, with the entertainment by “Extasy” and the singers Eleanora and Gina. This was another great success for IMAS!!
IMAS’s first large donation to these islands, in the amount of $83,000, was the X-Ray System / Bucky Diagnostic CS2 by Philips. It was donated and installed at “Dom Zdravlja” in Mali Losinj, with a Grand Opening on 7/15/2003 where most of the IMAS members attended.
Also, a successful Grand Opening of the new Dialysis Center in Mali Losinj was held on 6/15/2007, with 8 patient’s beds, where IMAS representatives Maria Cividini and Peter Budinich attended and delivered the “Congratulations” from IMAS.