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Dec 5, 2019

How you're addressing inequality in recovery

Photo from Doorways of Northwest Florida
Photo from Doorways of Northwest Florida

Hurricane Michael battered the Florida panhandle as the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to ever strike the United States on Oct. 10, 2018. In Panama City alone, 85% of the existing structures were damaged. One year later, survivors continue to endure myriad challenges as they try to rebuild their lives. 

Your donation to the Hurricane Michael Relief Fund is making a difference for survivors—and fueling community-led recovery and resilience building. With your support, partners on the ground are helping children and adults heal from the psychological trauma of the storm’s aftermath, rebuilding a new Boys and Girls Club Center, and hiring a much-needed case manager navigating the tremendous unmet needs. Here is a look at how your support continues to change lives: 

  • Everyone has the right to a home: There are currently 3,000 students without homes in the slowly recovering Bay County. Our nonprofit partner,Doorways of Northwest Florida, is working to provide clients with all the resources they need to transition into permanent housing, whether it’s the cost of rent or covering the expenses to replace a missing ID card.
  • Tackling inequality in recovery:LEAD Coalition of Bay County, Inc. is bringing together community leaders from three low income communities to map out families’ unmet needs, many of whom feel they have fallen through the cracks of the disaster recovery assistance system. Through mapping projects and neighborhood forums, LEAD is engaging Hurricane Michael survivors as active participants in their recovery.
  • Animals to the rescue: Fences, houses, and barns in the path of the hurricane were ripped apart, and as a result, numerous animals were lost or abandoned. Although Heartland Rescue Ranch incurred damage from Hurricane Michael, they were rescuing and caring for animals since the early days of the storm. Now, Amy and her team are addressing the mental health needs of children and adults in the aftermath of the storm through therapeutic interactions with rescued animals. 

We are also thrilled to share that Yvonne Petrasovits, the leader of our recovery partner Doorways of Northwest Florida, has been selected as a member of GlobalGiving’s 2020-2021 Disaster Feedback Fellowship. She will join a cohort of peers working with disaster-affected communities around the world for workshops and conventions in Washington D.C. and San Juan, Puerto Rico in February 2020.

As families in the Panhandle face the long road ahead towards rebuilding their communities, we are immensely grateful for your generous support for each of these programs. Thank you for your decision to fund community-led disaster response efforts after Hurricane Michael with your cash donation—the smart way to give after a disaster. You can continue to follow the progress of our partners as they help their communities fully recover by visiting our website

With gratitude,

Andrea + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo from All Hands and Hearts
Photo from All Hands and Hearts
Nov 25, 2019

Hope After Hurricane Dorian: A Conversation With Lucas Metropulos

Lucas Metropolus, Founder of Lend a Hand Bahamas
Lucas Metropolus, Founder of Lend a Hand Bahamas

We recently caught up with Lucas Metropulos, founder of Lend a Hand Bahamas and Marine Education Initiative, formerly known as Fishing for Families in Need, our partners working on relief and recovery after Hurricane Dorian.  Here’s what he shared:

Q. What do you wish more people knew about how your community was impacted by this storm?

The devastation of Hurricane Dorian quickly dominated the news cycle around the world. Bahamian nonprofits and other NGOs began receiving thousands of gifts to support relief efforts; however, the Bahamas relief effort is slowly moving to the background. There is still a need for immediate relief items, but also longer term needs that will plague the Bahamas—primarily the islands of Grand Bahama and Abacofor years to come. It is my hope that supporters from abroad will continue to contribute to relief and rebuild efforts.  

I also would like to stress and encourage everyone to still be traveling to the Bahamas. Many individuals have canceled their plans to go to Nassau and other islands thinking that all of islands of the Bahamas were impacted by this storm, while it was predominantly only two islands. One of the best ways people can support the Bahamas right now is to take a trip to Nassau, Exuma, Bimini, Eleuthera, and other unaffected beautiful islands. 

Q. What makes you most proud about how Lend a Hand Bahamas and other local organizations are responding to Hurricane Dorian?

As a Bahamian nonprofit organization committed to community development in the Bahamas, we were working here before Hurricane Dorian and will be here long after. This has been our first time on a larger scale assisting with hurricane relief, and we have been working tirelessly to ensure that our support is transparent and reaches those who need it most as quickly as possible. There are many Bahamian organizations that have come forward in the wake of this disaster whether it was their expertise or not. These organizations have risen to the occasion and worked together to increase impact in affected areas and to support evacuees. I am especially proud of our team for their thoughtful approach and willingness to adapt our efforts. I have personally witnessed the impact our efforts have had on evacuees families in Nassau and in Grand Bahama and Abaco. 

Q. What are the greatest unmet, longer-term needs in your community?

We’ve received large deliveries of food and immediate relief supplies, but there is still a need for these items as the rebuilding and recovery process will long-term. Debris removal and building materials are of high necessity right now as well. In addition, there continues to be a strong need for mental health professionals, and opportunities for victims to receive counseling due to this immense trauma. Our organization, Lend a Hand Bahamas, is also taking a deeper focus on the need to enhance and sustain educational opportunities for children displaced as a result of the hurricane. We are encouraging donors to support our educational after-school programs for evacuee children launching soon in Nassau and larger educational initiatives to help support the influx of evacuee children in Nassau. 

Q. The storm put many folks in incredibly tough situations. What keeps you hopeful?

This is not the first devastating hurricane to make landfall in the Bahamas, but it has certainly been the strongest. The destruction is truly immense in Grand Bahama and Abaco. Thousands have been displaced, careers extinguished, lives lost, and the environment damaged. We have seen instance after instance of Bahamians coming together to offer relief and support. Bahamians are a resilient people who value community, and when one or two of their family islands are impacted, the whole of the islands come together to support each other. I have personally witnessed this over the past 12+ years of being involved in the Bahamas. Many of the families we have supported have a very positive attitude and are returning home to rebuild and work together to improve their situations. They are extremely thankful to others for support and are committed to not letting the devastation of Hurricane Dorian change their positive attitudes and desire to push on. 

Nov 8, 2019

Recovery, Preparedness, Resilience: The Ongoing Hurricane Irma Response

Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI)
Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI)

While images of Hurricane Irma were long ago replaced in the media’s daily recounting of the latest disaster, communities impacted by the devastation of the 2017 hurricanes continue to strive towards a holistic recovery.

Our community-led, nonprofit partners on the islands have provided updates that detail how funds raised through GlobalGiving are supporting recovery two years into the work of rebuilding. 

St. Croix

Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands is the only organization on St. Croix providing free-of-charge construction services to residents whose homes were severely damaged in Hurricane Maria and Irma’s aftermath. Although this has resulted in an overwhelming case load, LSSVI is determined to repair houses that pose a safety risk to inhabitants, especially the elderly and persons with disabilities. We are happy to have supported LSSVI through this Fund, and in partnership with Cruzan Rum’s Island Spirit Fund. 

LSSVI director Chris Finch describes how dire a situation some survivors face, even two years after the hurricane struck:

One of our clients, an elderly lady, slept under a pop up tent in her bedroom so she wouldn’t get wet every time it rained.  Another senior citizen had been without electricity or running water for almost two years. A third house had large openings where windows and doors used to be…. Rebuilding work continues nonstop.” 

St. Thomas

The grassroots organization founded after Hurricane Irma, St. Thomas Recovery Team (STRT) has been assisting thousands of homeowners rebuild their homes over the past two years. Director Imani Daniel points out the critical work her team has done to ensure the community heals on a psychological level, as well. 

It is important to us that we keep the spirits of our people high, be aware and sensitive to widespread PTSD during this season, and help our constituents envision a brighter future.” 

Through the generosity of donors to this Fund, GlobalGIving recently provided an additional grant to the three long-term recovery groups of the USVIs, including STRT.

The We Grow Fund, a partner of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, is helping the farmers who lost thousands of fruit trees to hurricanes Irma and Maria through their native tree restoration project. Projects such as these are critical to islanders ability to sustain themselves through local agriculture, and ensures a diverse variety of fruit including mango, soursop, avocado, caimito, egg fruit, starfruit, dwarf coconut, lime, lemon, and apples. 

As we mark the passing of another hurricane season that fortunately spared the USVI’s, the GlobalGiving community continues to work with local partners leading the recovery from previous storms and increasing resilience for the future. This would be impossible without generous donors like you!

With gratitude,

Andrea 

Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands Inc
Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands Inc
 
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