Elissa was content to be a medical lab assistant in her hometown of Staten Island, New York, until she began to hear news of the Bosnian War. While asking a diplomat if she could help, she was handed a letter from a Bosnian boy that had lost his arms and a leg to a grenade. In the letter, he pleaded for "God and all merciful people to help me getting prosthetics." Elissa became that merciful person bringing young Kenan and his mother to New York where she arranged for volunteer hospitals and doctors to provide him new prosthetics and a new life. Elissa then established the Global Medical Relief Fund which has now helped repair the lives of over 250 children from around the world. These children have lost the use of limbs or eyes; have been severely burned, or have been injured due to war, natural disaster, or illness.