I’m thrilled to share this update, and the progress we’re making to restart operations, with you today.
Over the past months, during this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, we’ve actively explored how we can continue to deliver on the duality of our mission — ensuring we have a positive community impact while also enabling a transformative volunteer experience.
As we’ve moved through different reviews of each jurisdiction, one aspect that has become increasingly clear is there’s a lack of a uniform approach, or even consensus, as to how local, state and national governments should engage in their own phases of reopening. Added to this, over the past weeks, many jurisdictions have seen surges in COVID-19 cases and had to backtrack on previously announced plans or create new regulations. This led us to pause the restart of our programs in places like Texas and Florida and it also caused many challenges in the planning phase of The Bahamas program.
The uncertainty created by changes in country/state entry requirements and the health landscape makes it difficult for our volunteers to book travel and confirm with confidence. As a result, the volunteer forecast we’ve developed using years of data was no longer relevant and we were faced with the prospect of not knowing how many people to invite and not being able to tell the program team how many people to realistically expect.
As a result, we’re adapting our residential volunteer model by launching DM12, an initiative to mobilize small-to-medium-sized cohorts of participants to engage in a 12-week service commitment. This initiative is designed to increase safety and allows us to work more personally and directly with participants to navigate external changes. We’ll support, train and cover expenses of participants who will volunteer for a 12-week commitment; arriving and departing on the same day(s) where a further cohort will then join the program.
You’ll find more information about DM12 here. In the future, when the global situation stabilizes, we will reopen our standard volunteer application.
REOPENING THE BAHAMAS PROGRAM
Our team in The Bahamas is preparing to welcome the first cohort of volunteers on September 14th. We’re pushing ahead with logistics and base construction, having received critical PPE and Visible Goods units (pods) that will become the primary living space for the new base. We’re in the process of getting utilities to the slab so it can fully function as a base, including power and water, and are implementing various hygiene and sanitation protocols and COVID-19 controls.
In partnership with another NGO, GER3, we continue to support the work at Central Abaco Primary School (CAPS) and we’re revising the project plan at the Every Child Counts School (ECC). With the opening of these schools in the fall, Marsh Harbour will see, for many, the first return to school since Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Abacos Islands (September 1, 2019). We’re also exploring our residential queue and contacting homeowners, with the expectation of significant roof and mold sanitation work to continue with volunteers. Read more about The Bahamas program.
If you’re interested in joining our staff team, check out the job opportunities here.
On behalf of our entire team, thank you for your continued support. We’re grateful to be able to restart volunteer operations next month and look forward to sharing more on the impact you’ve helped us make for communities around the world.
In the next two months, in addition to The Bahamas, we’re aiming to restart hurricane recovery efforts in Texas and Florida and launch a COVID-19 relief program in Los Angeles, California. Join our mailing list to receive program news, disaster alerts and updates on how to get involved.