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Caribbean Hurricane Relief

by All Hands and Hearts
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Caribbean Hurricane Relief
Caribbean Hurricane Relief
Caribbean Hurricane Relief
Caribbean Hurricane Relief
Caribbean Hurricane Relief
Caribbean Hurricane Relief
Caribbean Hurricane Relief

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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Since late December, Southern Puerto Rico has been trembling with earthquakes. There have been over 1,200, including a record-breaking 6.4 magnitude quake on January 7th - Puerto Rico’s strongest in over a century.  We are happy to report that although our Hurricane Maria recovery teams based out of Yabucoa felt tremors and lost power and water in the area, they were not directly impacted by the earthquakes. After a series of assessments, staff members have determined that the best way we can support earthquake response efforts at this time is to partner with other organizations on the ground who could use the helping hands of our concerned volunteers. For example - we have developed a satellite project, partnering with World Central Kitchen as they serve more than 9,000 meals a day to 90 locations in 11 municipalities. Volunteers are assisting in the preparation, cooking and serving of meals. We are continuing to evaluate relief efforts as they progress to determine if there are any additional ways we can help as our program rapidly approaches its close date. 

We continue to provide recovery assistance to homeowners in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico; addressing the unmet needs of homeowners still struggling to recover. In December, we hosted a Community Resource Fair, with the help of Saint Vincent De Paul, Salvation Army and SBP, where we welcomed over 200 families. The event was open to the public and local groups set up booths offering workshops and information on a number of recovery topics, from home repairs to mental and physical health. 

We are incredibly sad to be leaving Puerto Rico at the end of March - choosing to extend our program in spite of funding challenges we have faced was a decision rooted in the fact there were (and are) so many families in need of help, now over two years after the Hurricanes. We are grateful to have stayed as long as we have - Puerto Rico is truly a place we can call home. To date, we have completed 590 roofs, positively impacting the lives of over 7,800 people.

Your support of our efforts here and in other areas of the Caribbean over the past couple of years has meant so much to us. Your trust in our organization makes so much of this work possible!

 

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

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Anniversary Parade, Yabucoa
Anniversary Parade, Yabucoa

Greetings friend!

Since our last update, an important anniversary passed in Puerto Rico. Now more than two years ago, two back-to-back hurricanes devastated the homes of thousands of residents on the island. Roofs were torn from homes, and heavy rainfall left streets inundated with water. A great deal of work remains to be done, but these communities have shown how resilient they are time and time again. It’s been an honor and privilege to stand by Puerto Rico through it all. 

All Hands and Hearts is still in Puerto Rico nearly two years after our teams arrived, more committed than ever to support the recovery of the families still reeling from the impact of these storms. As I mentioned in our last update, we plan to remain in Puerto Rico through the end of March 2020. Until then, our teams have a lot to do! 

September 20th was the two-year anniversary of the storms, and community members in Yabucoa (where our teams have been based for the past year) gathered to shed light on this important day. Our team joined the community and the local schools in a walk of remembrance, honoring the lives lost after the Hurricane. Winding through the neighborhood streets, they sang songs about resilience and proudly chanted “Puerto Rico se levanta”.

Beyond the work our teams are doing on homes, they continue to find community revitalization projects that we hope will help remind the families we work with that recovery is possible. In Yabucoa, this has meant repairing damage sustained to community centers, parks, and baseball fields. As we speak, teams are in the final stretch of work on Mendez Baseball Complex and Limones Baseball Field.    

To date, our team in Yabucoa has empowered 2,993 volunteers to make a difference in the lives of 7,719 people. With their hard work, more than 400 roofs have been repaired! 

Thank you for continuing to support the work we are doing in Puerto Rico - it means the world to us!  

Community members participating in the parade
Community members participating in the parade
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Happy summer from All Hands and Hearts! 

It is hard to believe that we are already into the month of August, quickly approaching what will be the two year anniversary of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.  Our programs have changed so much since 2017, our teams completing impactful work that we have been so happy to share with you. Thank you for sticking with us from the beginning, and taking the time to hear what’s new with All Hands and Hearts. 

Work in Puerto Rico is continuing, and we have very exciting news about our Yabucoa program: we have extended! AHAH will remain in Puerto Rico until March of next year! To date, our teams have repaired 356 damaged roofs and worked on a total of 452 sites. Every day our field teams see that there are so many that still need our help, and we are eager to continue reaching as many families as we can.

I have some more bittersweet news for you this quarter, as our St. John program has officially come to a close. To say we will miss the wonderful people of this island is an understatement, and we feel fortunate to have stayed for a total of 18 months.  During this time our teams positively impacted 8,973 people, after completing 1,470 jobs. To celebrate, our teams joined community members for an evening together in Coral Bay to reflect on their time on the island and say their goodbyes to the home they had come to know and love. 

A few words from our Program Director: 

“As difficult as it will be to say goodbye, this experience is one that we will never forget.

As they say on the island.... everything's fine. Much love”.

On behalf of everyone at All Hands and Hearts, thank you!

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Farewell St. Thomas
Farewell St. Thomas

Hello Donors!

Since our last update, progress has been great on each of the active programs in the Caribbean. In Puerto Rico, teams have been working hard removing mold and repairing roofs on homes that sustained storm damage. Staff members have begun a countdown as they are only 9 roofs away from celebrating 300 roof repairs finished in Puerto Rico! There is a lot of work left to do before the struggling communities of Puerto Rico can reach a full sense of recovery, and it truly is an honor to participate in the ongoing efforts to make full recovery a reality.

Our teams have been in St. John for 14 months, conducting response and recovery work at a rapid pace! So far, teams have completed our rebuild scope of work on 13 homes! These 13 homes are part of the 282 total homes worked on since the program began, touching the lives of 1,130 people. We will include links below for stories from the field in both Yabucoa and St. John where you can read more personal stories about the work our teams are doing in both locations.

Finally, I report to you the bitter-sweet completion of our truly phenomenal St. Thomas program, which officially closed on April 30th. We are so proud of the entire team of staff and volunteers that worked in St. Thomas over the entire program timeline (which began in September of 2017). We are so grateful to you, and GlobalGiving, for supporting our efforts on this beautiful island from day one and for helping us stay as long as we did. After completing the revitalization of the Alvin McBean Recreation Park, our teams saw no better way to celebrate than to host a community ballgame. The efforts of our St. Thomas team yielded the completion of 930 jobs, benefiting over 6,000 people! Thank for following our progress for the past 19 months, and for showing you care about the wonderful people of St. Thomas.

We will continue to update you about our work in Puerto Rico and St. John on this page, as well as our isolated USVI page. Thank you for your continued support of All Hands and Hearts!

A volunteer hard at work
A volunteer hard at work
A volunteer in St. John
A volunteer in St. John

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Organization Information

All Hands and Hearts

Location: Mattapoisett, MA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @allhands
Project Leader:
Julieann Jones
Mattapoisett, MA United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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