All Hands and Hearts arrived in Puerto Rico in December 2017, initially starting damage assessments in Yabucoa where the category 4 storm made landfall. In the following weeks, our team quickly realized the full and devastating impact that rocked the island, leaving families to deal with flooding and storm damage they never imagined possible. Many of these families lived with blue tarps on their leaking roofs for months before they received the help they needed to recover - assistance that you helped make possible. It has been an absolute privilege to serve these communities, and I am so proud to share with you today our final program report.
We launched our first programs in Yabucoa and Barranquitas in mid-January 2018, with the goal of ensuring families had waterproof, hurricane-resistant roofs to weather any future storms. In addition, we installed external doors and windows and sanitized homes from mold. Shortly after, we launched a satellite program in Toa Baja. With the assistance of our senior technical advisor, we expanded our scope of work to include repairing and rebuilding corrugated galvanized iron roofs, specifically designed to withstand future disasters. Thanks to the help of 3,536 volunteers, we completed 1,705 jobs across all programs and reached 12 municipalities. The nature of our work can sometimes make it difficult to process the magnitude of our impact. Together we have worked 249,383 hours and impacted 7,841 people. Take a moment and read that again; then remind yourself: Together, we have accomplished something extraordinary!
Beginning in early 2020, numerous earthquakes rattled the island, and thousands of aftershocks led to more damage and heartbreak. The string of powerful earthquakes forced thousands outside — many who continue to live in inhumane conditions. After our team conducted a thorough island-wide assessment, we opened a satellite site to partner with World Central Kitchen in providing meals to affected communities. Together, we served more than 294,500 meals. Additionally, we supported a grassroots volunteer group, Brigada de Todxs, in constructing sleeping cots for those living in evacuation shelters.
Unfortunately, the global coronavirus pandemic accelerated our planned March 31st end date by a couple of weeks. By early March it became clear that in order to keep all our people safe - staff, volunteers, and beneficiaries - we would have to suspend global operations. This abrupt departure was emotionally wrenching for the team, which, for the past 2+ years, had poured themselves into making homes safer and public spaces welcoming and functional again. Given the disruption COVID is causing around the world, we are reassured in the knowledge that the communities we leave behind are stronger because we helped build resilience into structures and hope within people.
The end of a program is something we all anticipated, yet it still catches us by surprise. A part of our hearts will forever remain in Puerto Rico - our work on the island has transformed what we as an organization thought was possible. Today there are 605 homes that no longer need blue tarps, thanks to the work we accomplished together!
From the entire team at All Hands and Hearts, thank you