Matthew Hollister ’18

By Allison Eatough ‘97

Matthew Hollister ’18 will never forget the day his father, James, died.

It was August 31, 2015 – the first day of Hollister’s sophomore year at UMD. And while he didn’t realize it at the time, it was also the start of a nonprofit that would honor his dad and help thousands of people worldwide access life-saving medication.

“After my father died, we still had several thousands of dollars of his cancer medications,” Hollister said. “At the time we had absolutely no idea what to do with them.”

Hollister and his family ended up giving the leftover medications to the local fire department, which coordinated their safe disposal. But seeing valuable medication go to waste left a “sour taste” in Hollister’s mouth, he said.

“Being partially raised by grandparents who grew up during the Great Depression, waste not, want not was always drilled into my head,” he said. “I wanted to find out if there was any other solution. And If I couldn't find one, then I’d try to make one for myself.”

Within two months of his father’s death, he founded the James Hollister Wellness Foundation as part of his capstone scholars project. The following year, the foundation won $6,500 in funding from the Do Good Institute’s Do Good Challenge

Here’s how the foundation works: Pharmacies, hospitals and nursing homes in Maryland donate surplus, unopened and unexpired medicine to the foundation. Medication donated ranges from blood thinners and antibiotics to ibuprofen and vitamins. The foundation then works with mission teams like Terp-founded Medfund to distribute medication to clinics in Honduras, Ghana and Bolivia.

As of December 2020, the foundation had provided medication to 50,000 individuals in need.

Hollister is also a co-founder of Save Pharmaceutical, a for-profit sister company to the James Hollister Wellness Foundation. Through Save, the foundation is able to provide donated medication to medical missions at reduced costs or in many cases for free. 

Hollister and his team are developing a Save e-commerce platform, where U.S. pharmacies with excess medication are matched with other U.S. pharmacies in need. The pharmacy with the surplus can sell medication to the pharmacy in need at a reduced price. The Save platform simply brokers the transaction.

In the future, Hollister said he hopes to extend the foundation’s outreach to more South American, Central American, Southeast Asian and African countries. He’d also like to source medication from additional states.

“We’re not just trying to save medication,” he said. “Ultimately, we're just trying to help people.”

In honor of his efforts, the UMD Alumni Association recently named Hollister a recipient of the Alumni Excellence Rising Terp Award. The award is well-deserved, said Kaitlin Ahmad, manager of communications for the Do Good Institute.

“Over the last six years, Matt’s innovative approach has offered cost-effective ways to modernize global healthcare while ensuring equitable access to pharmaceutical drugs,” she said. “It has been incredible to see and support him as he leads his organization through all of the ups and downs of starting and growing such an impactful effort.”

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