- National Post Sets Record Straight
After over 3 years, the National Post apologizes to Mr. Barry.
National Post sets the record straight; Yank Barry is vindicated after more than three years
National Post apologizes to Yank Barry
(Global Village Champions Foundation)/ January 9, 2017 / Toronto,ON
After over three years of battling against and withstanding the repercussions from a National Post article questioning Yank Barry’s character, career and philanthropic efforts, the Post has set the record straight following a lengthy dispute and tumultuous litigation. An April 12, 2012 National Post article suggested Mr. Barry’s global humanitarian works were embellished, in addition to questioning his music career which includes his time as the lead singer of The Kingsmen. Mr. Barry’s foundation and team have vigorously disputed these allegations.
On January 6, 2017, in publications at its website home page and its print edition, the Post expressly acknowledged that Yank Barry has engaged in extensive philanthropic work, prior to and since the date of the 2012 Post article; that he has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Prize for his charitable work; and that he was a member of The Kingsmen from 1968 to 1969 and from 2013 to date. The Post stated that it regretted any contrary interpretations of the 2012 article.
“I am pleased that the National Post has set the record straight,” Mr. Barry said. Mr. Barry said he will continue to use his time and talent investing in causes that benefit those in need.
The National Post apologizes to Mr. Barry to set the record straight:
About Global Village Champions Foundation: Started in 1995 by Yank Barry and co-founder Muhammad Ali, Global Village Champions Foundation strives to become the undisputed world leader in private, humanitarian delivery of nutrition to needy persons across the globe, while sustaining human life and helping to eradicate hunger from the face of the Earth. With the help of donors and notable figures such as Gary US Bonds, and Evander Holyfield, the nonprofit has provided more than 1 billion meals to the hungry around the world. The charity’s mission also includes rescuing refugees who fled to Bulgaria. Mr. Barry’s philanthropic work has been recognized my many well-known foundations as well as major media outlets worldwide, including being a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
MEDIA CONTACT: For Global Village Champions Foundation: Audra McMurray Global Village Champions Foundation – Director of Marketing and Communications Cell: (941) 524-1484 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lonnie Ali Presents the Muhammad Ali Award to Yank Barry
Celebrity Fight Night Foundation 2016 – Yank is honored with the Muhammad Ali Award
- Global Village Champions Foundation honored as 2014 top-rated nonprofit
Global Village Champions Foundation announced today that it has been honored with a prestigious 2014 op-Rated Award by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews about nonprofit organizations.
“We are excited to be named a Top-Rated 2014 Nonprofit,” says Yank Barry, the founder of Global Village Champions Foundation. “We are proud of our accomplishments this year, including saving more than 1,200 refugees from Syria, Iraq and Iran and giving them a new life in Bulgaria. The Top-Rated Nonprofit award was based on the large number of positive reviews that Global Village Champions Foundation received – reviews written by volunteers, donors and clients. People posted their personal experience with the nonprofit.
While the Top-Rated Awards run through the end of October, Global Village Champions Foundation was part of the inaugural group to qualify for the year. In addition, they’ll be added to GreatNonprofits #GivingTuesday Guide—an interactive guide to top nonprofits throughout the years. Look for this near the holidays.
“Savvy donors want to see the impact of their donations more than ever,” said Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits, “People with direct experience with Global Village Champions Foundation have voted that the organization is making a real difference.”
Being on the Top-Rated list gives donors and volunteers more confidence that this is a credible organization. The reviews by volunteers, clients and other donors show the on-the-ground results of this nonprofit. This award is a form of recognition by the community.
About GreatNonprofits: GreatNonprofits is the leading site for donors and volunteers to find reviews and ratings of nonprofits. Reviews on the site influence 30 million donation decisions a year. Visit www.greatnonprofits.org for more information.
About Global Village Champions Foundation: Started in 1995 by Yank Barry, Global Village Champions Foundation strives to become the undisputed world leader in private, humanitarian delivery of nutrition to needy persons across the globe, while sustaining human life and helping to eradicate hunger from the face of the Earth. With the help of donors and notable figures such as Muhammad Ali, Gary US Bonds, and Evander Holyfield, the nonprofit has provided nearly a billion meals to the hungry around the world.
Among the many international humanitarian advocates who have made generous donations to the Philippines is philanthropist Yank Barry, head of the Global Village Champions Foundation (GVCF), which he co-founded with boxing legend and long-time friend Muhammad Ali in 1995. Ali was Goodwill Ambassador of the Foundation for 20 years.
Barry has been donating to the Philippines for the past two decades. He has already donated over 100 million documented meals to the country; as well as two million meals to Typhoon “Yolanda” victims, including 120 tons of rice.
On Jan. 15, GVCF along with Jeunesse Kids and Barry brought in a 40-foot container carrying Vita Pro Food pails, which were distributed to needy Filipinos.
Supporting GVCF in the Philippines are Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, Cesar Montano and Richard Gomez. Mother Joan from the Sisters of the Poor Convent in Naga City will be distributing the meals.
It was in March 2013 when Barry last visited the country, during which he, along with GVCF Goodwill Ambassador Evander Holyfield and Filipino-American producer-director Ace Cruz, visited boxing champ and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, who is also now among GVCF’s Asian Goodwill Ambassador.
Incidentally, last Jan. 25, Barry reunited with his former rock n’ roll band The Kingsmen via a concert at the Circle Square Cultural Center in Ocala, California.
It was the first time in 40 years that Barry performed with the band, where he was lead singer from 1968 to 1970. The Kingsmen, who popularized “Louie Louie,” still tours.
“That song (‘Louie Loiue’) and this band bring back so many great memories,” said Barry, who has been twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his worldwide humanitarian efforts.
Barry joined current and original band members Dick Peterson, Mike Mitchell as well as Todd McPherson, Kim Nicklaus and Steve Peterson as the “surprise” guest in the concert.
Barry sang hits such as “Louie Louie” and “Money (That’s What I Want).”
“Members of the band have gone their own ways over the years, but it was great to be together again at the Circle Square Cultural Center for this long overdue reunion,” said Peterson.
“It’s great to see what Yank has done since his time with The Kingsmen,” said Mitchell. Since leaving the band, Barry has built a food empire. He is giving back and fought hunger through GVCF, delivering over 961,000 meals to those in need around the world.
Barry and the GVCF team have also taken their philanthropy a step farther. They recently freed more than 50 Syrian refugees in camps in Bulgaria and set them up in a renovated hotel that Barry pays for.
Barry also takes care of the refugees’ food, healthcare and education, essentially setting them up for a new life in Bulgaria without ever putting a burden on the country or its people. CNN, Reuters, Agence France Press, Jerusalem Post and others covered the story.
As a result of his ongoing fight against hunger, Barry has received nearly two dozen awards since 1995, highlighted by the Gusi Peace Prize for Social Services, Philanthropy, and International Humanitarianism in Manila, the India Humanitarian Service Award and the Bahamian Red Cross Humanitarian Award.
GVCF strives to become the undisputed world leader in private, humanitarian delivery of nutrition to needy persons across the globe, while sustaining human life and helping to eradicate hunger from the face of the Earth. With the help of donors and notable figures such as Ali, Holyfield and Gary Bonds, the non-profit organization has provided nearly a billion meals to the hungry around the world.
Evander Holyfield has faced many difficult opponents in the ring — but nothing quite like this.
The former heavyweight world champion has teamed up with colorful Canadian businessman and philanthropist Yank Barry to help Syrian refugees in Bulgaria.
Barry, once the lead singer of The Kingsmen, shot to fame briefly in 1963 with the single “Louie Louie.” He went on to become a music producer before turning his focus to international aid and diplomacy.
The U.N. estimates about 5,000 Syrians have asked for asylum in Bulgaria. About 1,200 mostly Syrians live cramped inside containers and tents at the Harmanli camp near Bulgaria’s border with Turkey.
On a foggy Sunday morning, I accompanied the pair on a drive from the capital, Sofia, to the camp, about 170 miles away.
As soon as we arrived, Holyfield and Barry were surrounded by hundreds of refugees angry at camp conditions in Bulgaria. The pair planned to deliver food aid and to help resettle some families in a home supplied by Barry’s charity, Global Village.
One refugee woman asked: “Why don’t you do more to help us?”
Barry replied: “Since last year I’ve delivered 5,000 tons of food to camps. I’m a private individual. We now have a hotel and we are bringing families.”
The woman persisted: “What about the rest of us?”
Syrian refugees in Lebanon face polio threat
Holyfield and Barry’s recent aid mission was not supposed to be like this. In midst of the chaos, Barry said to Holyfield: “We can’t blame them for being angry. But they have to understand. We are a private foundation.”
The refugees questioned why more was not being done to help them.
Visibly annoyed, Barry said: “Wait a minute! Time out! We got here 15 minutes ago. Now have a little bit of patience before I lose my patience. And we take our food and don’t take anybody!”
That did not appease the refugees. Instead, they held up their thumbs, chanting “fingerprint” — their way of demanding to be documented as refugees and then released from the camp.
“I wouldn’t refuse food if I was hungry. If they can’t handle it, let’s go,” Barry said as he got back into the car.
They managed to sneak two families out and meet them at a nearby gas station. Barry offered to place them in a converted hotel with other Syrian refugees for up to a year. But Barry has more ambitious plans. He told us he would be meeting President Bashar al-Assad within a few weeks.
“We know he’s killed some of his own people. But then so did Mubarak. So did Gaddafi. So did Saddam,” Barry explained.
When asked why he would have more success than others in reaching out to Assad, Barry said: “I know he loves Louie Louie. It’s my song. I sang it and I’ll sing it to him. I’m going with Evander and possibly Mike, Mike Tyson. He, Assad, is a big boxing fan. And we’re not politically involved.”
It’s dark by the time we reach our next destination — the hotel that Barry is using to rehouse refugees. There is already one family inside.
Syrian refugees face miserable winter in Lebanon
When the new arrivals walk through, tears start to flow as Mohammed recognizes his brother, Noor. He hasn’t seen him in nearly a year.
“Hey Noor, you know this man? It’s your brother!” Barry says enthusiastically.
“Your heart skips a beat and I was crying probably as much as he was,” he tells me. “I saw Evander had a tear in his eye.”
When I ask Holyfield why this mission is important to him, he says: “Because at some point in time, when you leave this earth, they won’t be asking about how many championships I won. They’ll say: ‘What did you do for the least of them?’ I can say I was in Bulgaria, I was in Russia, I was in the Philippines.”
Barry says he is already looking for another hotel to house more refugees.
But with so many needing help, they may not be able to reach as many as they hope.
More than 100 people try slip into Bulgaria every day, border police say, most say they are the fleeing the fighting in Syria. They pay smugglers as much as $1,500 to guide them in.
“The amount refugees pay varies according to the number of people trying to cross the border. If the group travels only to Bulgaria, the price they pay to traffickers is much lower. If Bulgaria is only a transit point, however, the price can go much higher,” George Kalaydjiev, Director of the board in Svilengrad city explains.
Bulgaria is one of the poorest countries in Europe. And this, Bulgarian officials say, is the best they can do.
The UNHCR says it is trying to get more help for Bulgaria from the European Union. The U.N. says more than 62,000 Syrians have applied for refugee status across the EU.
“But we cannot forget these people have suffered enormously. It’s unacceptable that they go on suffering once they reach the EU,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said recently during a trip to a refugee camp in Sofia.
Bulgaria is now building a wall along the most thickly-forested section of Bulgaria’s border with Turkey, in an attempt to keep people out.
But Syria’s refugees are desperate. And with or without a wall, Bulgaria remains the doorway to Europe.
Mr. Barry strode over to the shy teenager, Ali Djilm, and shook his hand. Ali smiled and lifted his black jacket to expose the scar. “Wow,” said Mr. Barry with a sympathetic moan. “Poor boy!”
In his life, Mr. Barry has been many things: singer, music producer, sports agent, businessman, drug abuser. Now he is becoming a do-gooder celebrity in Bulgaria, giving sympathy, a home and personal pep talks to dozens of Syrian families who otherwise would be stuck in primitive refugee camps.
“Doing this is a rush for me, like putting out a hit record,” said Mr. Barry, whose charitable foundation has rented one suburban Sofia hotel for his new charges and is looking into renting another.
As the Montreal-born businessman describes this latest chapter in his chameleon-like life, he is now clean and making up for past sins by helping the poor and the needy wherever they are through his charity. That involves taking Syrians out of Bulgarian refugee camps, putting them into decent hotels, feeding them and hiring nurses and guards to ensure they are healthy and safe. It also means taking an active role in their lives.
When Mr. Barry is in town, he visits them every day and encourages them to shape up and find jobs so they can integrate into Bulgaria or elsewhere in Europe.
Ali, one of the latest additions, had spent 12 days in the hospital after being stabbed at the refugee camp where he was staying, and was still obviously in pain when Mr. Barry swept up him and his mother and took him to the Oasis Hotel in the Sofia suburb of Bankia.
The Oasis – three storeys, white stucco, black marble floors, apparently 1970s vintage – has 19 rooms where 52 Syrian refugees, 18 of them children, are now living. Mr. Barry said he leased it through his Global Village Champions foundation, a charity whose stated mission is to feed hungry children and whose “goodwill ambassador” is former world boxing champion Evander Holyfield.
Mr. Barry thought the hotel was perfect because it was in a suburb, had a big garden and was surrounded by a high wall. Still, he hired a security guard for fear of further attacks on the refugees. “By putting them in this hotel, we can follow their lives and feel we can make a difference to them,” Mr. Barry said during a pit stop at Sofia’s Happy Restaurant – a sort of Bulgarian road house – before heading off to the Oasis in another van to check on the Syrians.
Through his foundation, which was created 20 years ago and is funded by the profits from his Vitapro food business, Mr. Barry said he has spent more than $1-million (U.S.) feeding and housing Syrians in Bulgaria since mid-2012. The foundation claims to also have delivered almost a billion meals to the poor and hungry from the Philippines to Britain.
Mr. Barry said he has emotional ties to Eastern Europe – his grandparents came from a Polish town near the Ukrainian border – and admires Bulgaria because it refused to deliver its Jews to Hitler’s extermination camps. When Syrians began making their way into Bulgaria to flee their civil war, he felt the need to help them find new lives. He also has a business connection through Vitapro, which has small factories in Bulgaria and elsewhere, whose main product is a “textured” protein, billed as a meat alternative, made from soya.
Mr. Barry says his past sins also motivated him to become a do-gooder. In an earlier life, when he was a cocaine-addled 20-something rocker with a fondness for Montreal mobsters, Mr. Barry was convicted of extorting money from a business partner and sentenced to six years in prison; he ended up serving a year. “I was infatuated with the mob back then,” he said. “I wanted to see The Godfather with the godfather.”
In 2001, he was convicted of bribery, conspiracy and money laundering in Houston for allegedly bribing the top Texas prison official to ensure that Vitapro was supplied to prison kitchens. The verdict was thrown out in 2008 when the prosecution’s main witness was found to be a liar.
During his visit, the Oasis was buzzing with activity. Mr. Barry’s American wife, Yvette Barry, 43, had delivered several full van loads of food, ranging from 25-kilogram sacks of flour to four-kg cans of peas. In the kitchen, men were rolling dough to make flatbread while the women were making cakes and hummus from chickpeas.
Outside, Mr. Holyfield, 51, effortlessly scooped up kids into into his still-powerful arms – this was the man who beat Mike Tyson twice in the ring.
Mr . Barry was on a more serious mission. He took aside the Syrian man who had emerged as the house leader, Mohamed Nour Aldin Anter, to explain to him that he was about to leave the country for a few weeks and that the food supplies could not be wasted, nor could the hotel be theirs forever.
“I’m not writing blank cheques,” Mr. Barry said, elevating his deep, powerful voice, while sitting across from Mr. Anter on a red vinyl sofa in one of the hotel’s two reception areas.
Mr. Anter, who said he fled Syria in June, 2012, ventured that he dreamed of moving to Germany, an idea that launched Mr. Barry into tough-love mode.
“What makes you think German refugee camps are any better than the ones here?” he asked.
And with that, he disappeared from the Oasis.
He had a lot to do before his flight later this week back to one of his homes, in Sarasota, Fla., including a visit to examine an unoccupied 110-room hotel in Sofia that could house hundreds more refugees. “The nightmare here is, what happens if 50,000 refugees come to Bulgaria?” he said.
Living as squatters in the makeshift trailer park that serves as a camp for new arrivals, Yantar’s family were forced to brave low winter temperatures with only outdoor fires to keep them warm.
Unable to handle the growing number of refugees, the Bulgarian authorities are helpless to offer anything more than overcrowded camps in poor condition with little medical care or food.
“We count on external assistance,” admitted Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski during a meeting with Jewish Canadian philanthropist, pop musician/jingle writer Yank Barry on November 13. Driven by personal ties to Bulgaria and his humanitarian mission, Barry is among the most recent contributors to join the relief effort to aid the Syrian refugees in Bulgaria, the European Union’s least wealthy member.
Recently, Yantar, his wife and three children, moved to a private hotel. Their rent for the next six months is paid for by the Global Village Champions Foundation, co-founded by Barry and famous boxer Muhammad Ali, which is spending $1 million to help fund the housing of 50 refugees. Superstar boxer Evander Holyfield accompanied Barry on this recent trip.
“I don’t know why I’m the one leaving the camp, but I have three children and my wife is pregnant. This is a chance for us,” Yantar told a local TV station after exiting Harmanli.
Bulgaria is now home to almost 10,000 refugees, 70 percent of whom are Syrian, according to latest data from the Interior Ministry. This may be a relatively small number within the overall Syrian humanitarian crisis, but it is triple the annual average the country used to receive.
“When we set out for here we knew that the people and the police were good. But when we arrived we didn’t feel it. They don’t think we are people. Why are they accepting us?” a woman said to a local TV crew, complaining about the inhumane conditions.
One of the main problems for the Syrian refugees in Bulgaria is finding a place to stay. The state offers only temporary lodgings in very modest conditions until the asylum procedure is completed. After that, the newcomers, often with little resources to support themselves, are on their own.
But even if they have money, renting is a problem.
“It is almost impossible to find accommodation. Owners refuse to have their property rented by refugees,” says Lydia Staykova, a Bulgarian volunteer, who is leading the relief efforts in the town of Haskovo.
People who can no longer stay in the camps are those targeted by Barry’s charity campaign.
“We also check their police records. We don’t want to get out somebody connected with al-Qaeda or Hezbollah! That won’t be good for anybody,” Barry told the Trud newspaper in an interview.
The philanthropist says he identifies with the plight of Syrian refugees, who like Jews in the 1940s, became innocent victims.
“They are people. They are good people. I will continue to do as much as I can to help,” says Barry, who also has a personal connection with Bulgaria: Two of his cousins escaped the Nazis in Belarus and found safe heaven in the Balkan country.
It is a little known fact that despite being an ally of Hitler during World War II, Bulgaria saved tens of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust in a collective effort from the state, church and society.
This year Jews in Bulgaria marked the 70th anniversary of their rescue. To commemorate the occasion and to honor the victims of the Holocaust, the Organization of Jews in Bulgaria, Shalom, started a campaign in August dubbed “Make good,” which offers free medical check-ups to people in need. Shalom has also discretely organized doctor visits for the Syrian refugees, most of whom are women and children.
Teaming up with the Alexandrovska Hospital, Shalom is providing special prescription glasses for young Syrians and giving out sweet treats. The medical personnel, which includes two long time Syrian expats in Bulgaria, is touring the refugee camps on a weekly basis. The hospital is also providing two ambulances with special equipment.
During one of the visits, two children were diagnosed with diabetes and special medication will be arranged.
“In the beginning the conditions were awful. But now we see things are getting better – we have food. We really thank Bulgaria for what it does for us,” Rafa Ghanam, a Syrian refugee, told the TV station BNT.
Back in the private hotel, rented in the outskirts of the capital city Sofia, several families are preparing for their new life. In addition to free food and accommodation, Global Village Champions Foundations is offering lessons in Bulgarian.
One of the families, which has 17 members, was forced to live in a room designed to house only four. Their “rescue” was not planned, Barry says.
“It was a spur of the moment decision. We were able to accommodate the family, and I decided to do it and I am so happy I did,” said Barry. “The kids had smiles on their faces. That was incredible.”
Little did Barry know, but the family of 17 are the relatives of Ali, who gained some fame in the Bulgarian media after being stabbed in the back by an alleged skinhead on November 4.
The incident was triggered by a hit and run attack on a 20-year old Bulgarian shop clerk by an Algerian boy, which led to a wave of anti-immigrant violence across the country. Ali is still in the hospital and awaits to join his family in the hotel provided by Barry.
‘The difference between here and the camps is like heaven and hell’
“The difference between here and the camps is like heaven and hell,” a female relative of Ali told a local TV news crew.
And soon more Jews could be joining the effort to handle the refugee wave in Bulgaria: The Mossad, Israeli national intelligence agency, will be helping Bulgarian authorities in identifying potential threats among the refugees, Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said in a statement after meeting Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Israel last week.
Barry, who has relocated several dozen Syrians in Bulgaria, promises he will continue his charity campaign next time he returns to the country.
“I will rent three or four more hotels, until I run out of money, if needed,” Barry said while leaving the Harmanli camp. “For me life is mitzva – a good deed in the name of God,” the Jewish philantropist told BNT television.
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