Nov 17, 2020

Powering recovery through social change in Puerto Rico

Photo courtesy of Y No Habia Luz
Photo courtesy of Y No Habia Luz

It’s hard to believe that three years have already passed since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean. In Puerto Rico, the trauma and damage inflicted by the storm remain present to this day

We must remember that Hurricane Maria was the deadliest disaster in the United States in 100 years. It tragically left at least 3,000 people dead and the entire island without full power for nearly an entire year. The storm’s impacts not only built upon years of economic and political marginalization of the Puerto Rican people, but it also weakened local communities’ ability to respond to other massive crises thrown their way this year—like the earthquakes that struck the island earlier this year and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The reality is that the nonprofit sector in Puerto Rico and its leaders like Ana Yris Guzmán have been, and continue to be, at the forefront of recovery efforts on the island. Both federal and local government agencies have sadly failed to deliver on promised disaster aid.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm and the years that followed, you chose to join with more than 50,000 others to support GlobalGiving’s Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund. As a result of your donation, our trusted nonprofit partners based in Puerto Rico have been able to rely on GlobalGiving’s long-term support to further their critical work. Here is a snapshot of how your donation continues to help communities across Puerto Rico on their journey to recovery:

  • Y No Había Luz centers its work on the power of artistic experiences to drive social change in Puerto Rico. It recently launched its Centinelas del Corazón program to serve multiple communities across the island that were hit the hardest by Hurricane Maria. The program aims to strengthen social ties in impacted communities through art and theater, including puppetry and immersive storytelling. Through workshops (virtual until further notice) and community dialogues, the Centinelas del Corazón program will provide a space for communities to identify common issues and to design solutions in a participatory way alongside their neighbors.
  • Programa de Educación Comunal de Entrega y Servicio (P.E.C.E.S.) has been serving vulnerable communities across Puerto Rico since 1985 through its programs promoting education, at-risk youth intervention, and community development. The organization’s Community Sustainability Center, based in Punta Santiago very close to where Hurricane Maria first made landfall, has quickly adapted all of its programmings amid the pandemic and is now providing non-stop supportive services virtually, including counseling and other social work services. P.E.C.E.S. is also providing holistic support, such as hot meal distribution, to the elderly who were disproportionately impacted by the storm and are now at greatest risk to COVID-19.
  • Intercambios Puerto Rico is a community-based organization that promotes the social integration of marginalized groups, including people with substance abuse disorders, people experiencing homelessness, and sex workers. These groups, who are already struggling from the disproportionate impacts of Hurricane Maria, now find themselves in an even more precarious position due to the realities of the pandemic. The organization has been running its mobile services to provide on-the-spot counseling, COVID-19 safety items like masks and hand sanitizer, and information about how to protect yourself from the virus.

Thank you for your generosity and support of community-led disaster recovery. Please expect another update from GlobalGiving early next year about how your donation makes a difference in the lives of so many.

With gratitude, 

Chase + the GlobalGiving Team

Nov 16, 2020

Your donation is driving long-term recovery in Mexico

Photo courtesy of Manos Que Reconstruyen Oaxaca
Photo courtesy of Manos Que Reconstruyen Oaxaca

This past September marked the third anniversary of the pair of devastating earthquakes across central and southern Mexico. Much has changed since that time, including the current realities thrust upon the world by the COVID-19. What hasn’t changed is the dedication and hard work of the dozens of GlobalGiving’s local, community-led nonprofit partners in Mexico that continue, day in and day out, to meet the long-term recovery needs of communities impacted by the earthquakes.

Thanks to your incredible generosity and support for our Mexico Earthquakes Relief Fund, our nonprofit partners still lead the way on the long journey to recovery. Here is a snapshot of how your donation continues to help communities in Mexico impacted by the earthquakes of September 2017:

  • AYOK delivers high-quality workshops to families in Huejotengo in Morelos that saw more than 80 of their homes damaged or destroyed. The organization focuses on fostering economic reactivation in the community by offering carpentry workshops to women who can then apply their new skills to generate a side income and contribute to the overall reconstruction effort in Huejotengo led by the community.

  • Cooperación Comunitaria remains committed to reducing the vulnerability of communities impacted by the earthquakes. Working hand in hand with community members (with COVID-19 safety measures in place) in La Blanca, Oaxaca, the organization is constructing traditional kitchens and ovens and carrying out a natural assets recovery plan. Through participatory methods, Cooperación Comunitaria is ensuring that families in La Blanca have the tools and knowledge that they need to self-manage the natural environment around them in a sustainable way.
  • Manos Que Reconstruyen Oaxaca (Una Mano Para Oaxaca) centers its work on Indigenous knowledge to promote food security and strong mental and physical health for families still grappling with the long-term impacts of the earthquakes. Working in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, the organization is tapping into and preserving Indigenous knowledge, which is critical before, during, and after times of crisis. The organization has spent the last months training families in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to create backyard gardens for self-consumption and, at the same time, how to avoid food waste by using every part of the flora growing in these gardens.

All of this critical work has been made possible by your donation. From everyone at GlobalGiving, thank you for joining with more than 18,000 people to drive long-term recovery in Mexico. We will be back in your inbox early next year to update you further about how your donation is making a difference in support of local, vetted nonprofit organizations.

With gratitude, 

Chase + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo courtesy of Cooperacion Comunitaria
Photo courtesy of Cooperacion Comunitaria
Nov 12, 2020

Adapting for real recovery: a conversation with Jay Rollins

Photo: St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group
Photo: St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group

After Category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the U.S. Virgin Islands three years ago, the St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group was formed to combine recovery resources and meet community needs. To show you the difference your donation is making to long-term recovery on the islands, I reached out to Jay Rollins, Executive Director of Regional and National Relationships of the St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group and Interim Chair of the U.S. Virgin Islands Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. He shared his experience responding to Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s what he had to say about his community’s tenacity, the challenges they continue to navigate, and how a new grant from GlobalGiving will help. 

Q: What do you wish more people knew about how your community was impacted by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria?

A: I believe it is very difficult for people to understand the significant impact that two Category 5 hurricanes in a four-island territory really has on a community. Most of us went without electricity for more than 100 days. Ports and airports had to be cleared before supplies could get here. Communication was almost non-existent. Our children went almost an entire year with no school. Our senior population died at a greater percentage, most likely from stress.

In the United States, crews and equipment can be prepositioned in nearby states to drive in and restore power quickly. Volunteer teams can load up church vans with supplies and people and mobilize to the scene. This is just not a reality for the Virgin Islands. At the end of 2020, we still have 1,600 families without access to safe, dry, sanitary homes. 

Q: How have the funds you received from the GlobalGiving Hurricane Irma Relief Fund made a difference for your community?

A: The funds provided by GlobalGiving in this round of contributions are all about rebuilding and strengthening our communities. They will help us provide hurricane kits with emergency supplies to seniors, individuals with access and/or functional needs, and those with fixed low income, giving them a better chance at survival. They will also allow for much-needed support to our nonprofit networks for asset mapping and planning. They will be leveraged with other funds to be sure we are better prepared for next time—because there will be a next time.

Q: What are the greatest unmet, long-term needs in your community?

A: COVID-19 has further complicated our greatest unmet needs. Housing remains an issue. Access to health care (especially mental health care) remains an issue. A reliance on federal funding for recovery is an issue. And our children's education is an issue again with COVID-19 forcing us into remote learning and so many children not having easy access to the internet.

Q: How has your organization adapted to continue serving your community during the pandemic?

A: Ingenuity and perhaps a bit of luck! The blessing of a territory physically divided by water means we had already been implementing online business practices as part of the recovery. Our staff, supporters, and volunteers were already used to meetings by Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Our disaster case managers adapted by standing in people's yards and talking through windows if they could not reach a client by phone. I guess we are lucky in that we are small—that allows for flexibility. The bottom line is that we will continue to do this work to make sure these islands recover and double our efforts to be sure that we are ready for next time.

Thanks to the generosity of you and more than 16,000 other donors, we are able to continue supporting local organizations in their work to recover and rebuild from Hurricane Irma, despite the added challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. Thank you for supporting community-led disaster recovery. I can’t wait to share more updates with you in the coming months.

With gratitude, 

Mikaela + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo: St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group
Photo: St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group
 
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