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May 26, 2020

Fulfilling our commitments...


Greetings Friends,

I sincerely hope this update finds you well, and in good health. Today, I have a brief update to share with you about our work in the Philippines as well as our operational pause in light of COVID-19.

With respect to the global pandemic, our top priority is and will continue to be the health, safety, and well-being of our staff, volunteers and the communities we serve. For this reason, effective March 12th, All Hands and Hearts temporarily suspended all operations, withdrawing over 400 staff and volunteers from seven program locations in the US and around the world in 72 hours. After careful consideration, our leadership team has now determined that it is unlikely we will be able to restart our volunteer-driven operations before September 2020. However, our commitments to beneficiary communities remain resolute. As of September 1, we expect to begin reopening programs on a case-by-case basis, based on local government guidelines and the advice of medical experts.

As for Agani and Dadda Elementary Schools, our focus has shifted to what we can do right now for the children still waiting for a safe space to learn. Our teams had made incredible progress at both sites prior to our operational pause, however, the schools were not yet ready to be used. We are working with a contractor to complete these classrooms once they can safely do so. We are also reviewing the timing for the “completion phase” with the expectation that our local contractor must ensure there is a safe, finished school ahead of the 2020 typhoon season.

I look forward to keeping you updated as plans progress, and the situation surrounding COVID-19 evolves.

Thank you!

May 13, 2020

A quick update regarding our operations...

Greetings Friends,

I sincerely hope this update finds you well, and in good health. Today, I have a brief update to share with you about our Hurricane Harvey relief program as well as our operational pause in light of COVID-19. 

With respect to the global pandemic, our top priority is and will continue to be the health, safety, and well-being of our staff, volunteers and the communities we serve. For this reason, effective March 12th, All Hands and Hearts temporarily suspended all operations, withdrawing over 400 staff and volunteers from seven program locations in the US and around the world in 72 hours. After careful consideration, our leadership team has now determined that it is unlikely we will be able to restart our volunteer-driven operations before September 2020. However, our commitments to beneficiary communities remain resolute.  As of September 1, we expect to begin reopening programs on a case-by-case basis, based on local government guidelines and the advice of medical experts.  

We know that the poor and vulnerable populations we serve are already feeling a disproportionate impact from COVID-19. Stay-at-home orders, closed schools, layoffs, and medical shortages land differently on those sheltering in a damaged home, in a community without internet or one without a clinic, or for those already struggling to afford basic necessities. Our goal now is to sustain our model and prepare to meet the challenges that COVID is already injecting into the disaster recovery landscape, so we can serve our mission over the long haul.

At the time of suspension, we were in the early stages of work on two homes in Coastal Bend, Texas. If these homes were left incomplete, the families wouldn't be able to return home safely (an added burden in an already difficult situation). To ensure these families had somewhere safe to go, we hired vetted, local contractors to finish the work. We are incredibly eager to return to Coastal Bend as soon as local conditions indicate it is safe to do so and continue serving families that still need our help.

I look forward to keeping you updated as plans progress, and the situation surrounding COVID-19 evolves. 

Thank you!

May 12, 2020

Farewell, Puerto Rico

It’s hard to believe that two and a half years have passed since highly destructive hurricanes Irma and Maria raged through the Caribbean. This project page has been quite special to us as it covered the programs we operated in response to these storms in St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola, Dominica, and Puerto Rico. We are grateful to each and every one of you, our supporters, for standing on the side of families impacted by these disasters and helping our teams support them through a variety of disaster recovery services. Over the last year, we have reported on these programs as one-by-one they came to a close. It has been an absolute privilege to serve these communities, and I am so proud to share with you today our final Puerto Rico program report, and the last update that will appear on this project page.  

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 DART 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.

 
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