The Latvian Relief Fund of America, Inc. (LRFA) was founded in 1952 as a mutual assistance organization. Its founders and original members were a small number of post-WWII refugees from Latvia, who settled in Pennsylvania.
Initially, the intent of LRFA was to provide its members with a basic life insurance plan to cover funeral expenses for the new immigrants. Originally, all transactions were administered in the Latvian language in consideration to its members' specific needs.
The founding father and ideologue of the LRFA was Ludvigs Berzins. Mr. Berzins had been a journalist and former editor of "Tevzeme," the largest Latvian language newspaper published outside of Latvia after WWII. The innovative and energetic man began building the LRFA while still working the night shift at Lancaster's DeWalt Saw Company. Soon thereafter, LRFA was incorporated as a non-profit, fraternal relief organization.
The health and life insurance plans developed by Mr. Berzins and his collegues quickly gained the attention of Latvian communities throughout the U.S. and thousands of people joined to take advantage of the reasonable rates and friendly service in a familiar language. During the 40 years of his tenure, the LRFA grew to become one of the largest and most economically stable Latvian organizations in North America.
Over the years, the LRFA has grown. Under the current leadership, headed by CEO Gunars Berzins, a son of the organization's founder, the LRFA has established new insurance plans in response to the changing needs of its members. The health plans are structured to aid members requiring full medical coverage, as well as those needing a supplement to existing HMO plans. The medicare supplemental plans are designed to complement the federal Medicare program and offer prescription drug coverage. Both the health and medicare supplemental plans are offered at competitive prices and remain popular due to the freedom they provide the member to select medical providers of their choice.
All of the LRFA plans are comparable to those offered by commercial companies, but at relatively lower rates. This has attracted many new members outside the Latvian community. All plan information is available in both English and Latvian.
In the future, the LRFA plans to diversify its sphere of operations and to continue to expand and enhance current LRFA programs in the best interests of its members.