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Aug 1, 2019

After Smoke Clears: California Wildfire Recovery

Nine months ago, two of the costliest wildfires in the history of the United States subsumed California in clouds of smoke. The Camp Fire in Northern California, the deadliest in the state’s history, began just hours after the Woolsey Fire in Ventura County. Both fires devastated communities in their paths, claimed numerous lives and caused a combined $20 billion in damages.

 

Through the support of thousands of donors like you, GlobalGiving was able to respond to the sudden crises and allocate emergency donations to local community-led organizations mobilizing relief efforts on the ground. Now in the longer-term phase of disaster recovery, the California Wildfire Relief Fund continues to support local organizations as they assist thousands of displaced individuals and provide resources for much-needed trauma healing.

 

The following recovery and disaster preparedness initiatives are currently underway thanks to your generous donation:

 

  • The United Way of Northern California is pushing forward with case management and relocation resources for those still struggling to find housing, many of whom had to resort to living off the grid in campers and RV parks after losing their homes. Financial support for families who lost everything in the fire will cover related costs such as first month’s rent, security deposit, and utilities. 

 

To date, more than 8,000 individuals and families have been directly impacted by these efforts. 

 

  • The collaborative Butte Strong Fund was launched in May by the North Valley Community Foundation as the organization turns its focus to long-term recovery in communities affected by the Camp Fire. Since its inception, funds have been allocated to meet a variety of needs such as fee reduction for those seeking a permit to rebuild homes on their properties, temporary workforce housing for the hundreds of workers in Butte working on debris removal, and bolstering  case management efforts to provide long-term holistic support to the many individuals and families who still need direct assistance. 

 

  • The Humane Society of Ventura County is now better prepared to conduct its animal rescue operations thanks to the funding of a second 5-horse trailer. After the Woolsey Fire in Southern California, the need for more equipment and resources used in rescuing animals from spreading wildfires became alarmingly apparent. In the event of future disaster events, the HSVC says it is prepared to offer evacuation services and sanctuary for animals in harm’s way. 

 

After large-scale disasters such as the California Wildfires in 2018, the road to recovery is a long one. GlobalGiving will, in the coming months, continue to share stories of how your donation is helping communities to stabilize and heal. 

Jul 30, 2019

Building Community Resilience in Post-Harvey Texas

Photo courtesy of West Street Recovery
Photo courtesy of West Street Recovery

Harvey made landfall as a category four hurricane on August 25, 2017. 150 mph winds flattened homes and businesses along the once-booming tourist coastline, and heavy rains flooded south Texas an area the size of New Jersey.

This past April, I had the opportunity to meet with partners and community members that are still rebuilding their communities. I drove from Corpus Christi to Houston via Aransas, Rockport, Refugio and Victoria, learning about community-specific needs and how our partners are addressing them. 

Port Aransas and Rockport County were Hurricane Harvey’s ground zero. Around 40,000 structures were damaged or completely destroyed by Harvey’s winds and accompanying tornadoes, and businesses along once bustling streets remain boarded up as local neighbors work to repair or rebuild their own homes. Rockport Hands of Hope has addressed thousands of minor home repairs and remains one of the go-to sources for recovery needs. From plumbing and electrical work to wind resistant window coverings (up to category 4 strength), Rockport Hands of Hope is undaunted by the steady flow of requests for assistance. 

After leaving the coast I headed toward Victoria via Refugio County, a rural coastal community with a population of 7300. I visited with three families whose homes were severely damaged by Harvey, and remain so today -- caved ceilings, rampant mold growth, exposed electrical wires, a detached chimney. One family, the Castanedas, were featured in last year’s Victoria Advocate Hidden in Plain Sight series, which explores inequality – and how Harvey exposed the gap between the people who could afford to rebuild and everyone else

The Castaneda’s story isn’t unique to Refugio. In Houston I met with the Doucettes, a family whose home is being rebuilt by local West Street Recovery group. WSR was launched by a group of friends in the midst of Harvey during a spontaneous search and rescue (with an inflatable kayak) as the city streets turned to waterways. WSR works in areas with poverty levels above the national average and income levels below the Houston median. West Street Recovery is another partner that strives to “fill the gap” where insurance and federal recovery programs will not, and are prioritizing the unmet needs of low-income, socially vulnerable families. In addition to reconstruction, WSR provides workforce development training, community organizing and disaster preparedness programs for its community.

Before returning to DC, I met with partners approaching disaster recovery from a different angle. Attack Poverty has launched a pilot program that brings on a full-time mental health professional to assess the emotional well-being of survivors during case visits. Research demonstrates a major gap in providing mental health services to disaster victims, and Attack Poverty is incorporating it into their every-day programming to address this unspoken, yet critical need for dedicated support. 

Looking to the future, the Houston Arts Alliance has teamed up with an emergency response specialist to educate the arts and culture community of Houston on disaster response and preparedness. A $1.2 billion industry in Harris County alone, museums, theatres, and small-businesses were hit with more than $50 million in direct damages by Harvey. The artist community is self-proclaimed to have been unprepared, which is why HAA is building out programming and workshops that will inform resilience planning and meet the needs of a multicultural, multilingual community. 

By the end of my visit, I recognize a few common threads hold true: Harvey continues to disproportionately affect low-income, marginalized and otherwise vulnerable communities; there is a major gap in providing mental health support for survivors; and, Texans are [always] thinking about the next storm. We’re proud to have partners who are still going strong two years later, undeterred by the infinite tasks that lie ahead; and we’re grateful to have the means to provide support to those advocating for improved systems and infrastructure that will prepare communities for the next storm. 

Other organizations we support include: 

  • Harvey Home Connect 
  • Victoria County Long Term Recovery Group
  • Urban Harvest
  • Coalition for Environmental Equity and Resilience
  • Houston Advanced Research Center
  • Bayou City Waterkeepers

Looking to the year ahead, GlobalGiving will continue to support grassroots, locally-led groups that are leading long-term Harvey recovery efforts and incorporating themes of disaster preparedness and resilience into their work. From food security projects to workforce development, regional climate research and nature-based resilience programming, GlobalGiving will invest in organizations that invest in the people they serve.

Photo courtesy of West Street Recovery
Photo courtesy of West Street Recovery
Photo courtesy of West Street Recovery
Photo courtesy of West Street Recovery
Photo courtesy of Rockport Hands of Hope
Photo courtesy of Rockport Hands of Hope
Jul 26, 2019

Hello (Hujambo) from Toronto, Canada!

Happy summer!

I am officially home after an outstanding three months in the field in Kenya...

Thanks to your support I was able to provide personalized consultations to thirty-five Kenyan nonprofit partners in thirteen different counties across Kenya, discussing how to leverage GlobalGiving’s leading platform to build fundraising capacity, strengthen organizational strategies, attract more donors, and accelerate impact through our online learning tools.

Our nonprofit partners on the ground are tackling a plethora of challenges across sectors in Kenya. From interacting with the world’s last two northern white rhinos on Ol Pejeta’s Conservancy, to assisting Step Up 4 Autism with their occupational therapy sessions, to listening to music produced by Turning Tables’ youth beneficiaries from the slums - every visit left me feeling inspired, educated, and driven to continue my work in the social impact sphere. 

In addition to site visits, I was additionally able to facilitate six online fundraising workshops across the country, educating and building relationships with 170 prospective nonprofit partners.

I created a short video to summarize my time in the field, if you’d like to watch it click here

Last week I presented my insights to the GlobalGiving U.S. HQ team, sharing country sector trends, partner challenges, and recommendations on how to enhance our support of our Kenyan partners and advance the social impact sector on both a national and global scale. 

Based on the feedback we’ve received from those nonprofit partners I visited, time was very well spent! We’ve seen partners have increases in their donation activity, add new projects to our platform, and restrategize around their approach to management and fundraising.

Tremendous thanks again, without your support none of this would’ve been possible! 

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I am off to Los Angeles this fall to complete my Masters in Social Entrepreneurship at USC Marshall School of Business. If you’d like to learn more about the 35 organizations I visited, my time in the field, or otherwise keep in touch, please feel free to reach out to my personal email: isabellehall003@gmail.com

Best wishes,

Isabelle

 
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