At All Hands and Hearts, we are applying what we have learned in 15 years of disaster relief work to take responsible actions that safeguard our global community and slow the spread of the coronavirus. We believe it is critical, for everyone’s health and safety, to follow the guidelines given by governments and health experts.
These are the actions we have taken to do our part:
- Suspended Global Operations. On March 13, 2020, we suspended global operations, evacuating more than 400 staff and volunteers from our program locations to safeguard our team and people in the communities we serve. We provided comprehensive support throughout the full process — booking travel, covering the cost of all staff travel, offering to reimburse volunteers for incremental travel costs due to this decision and providing a number of temporary spaces to enable people to evacuate from our programs to the port of departure.
- Meeting our Commitments to the Communities we Serve. At the time of making the decision to suspend operations, we discussed the reason and guidance given by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease and Prevention with those in the communities we serve, including their community leaders and our partners. We secured and made all worksites safe, developed a plan to complete critical work (outlined below) and, for all other programs, we will restart operations and meet our commitments when we are safely able.
- In Mozambique, we hired local contractors to finalize the construction of our school buildings so students will be able to move out of their temporary, open-air learning spaces into safe, weather-proof classrooms;
- In Puerto Rico, we had seven homes left to repair before the scheduled program closing on March 30, 2020. We provided the necessary materials and tools to local community leaders who have offered to finish the work;
- In Texas, we were in the early stages of work on two homes, left incomplete would have made it dangerous for the families to return home, so we hired vetted, local contractors to finish the work.
- Continuation of Pay and Benefits. Our suspension of operations was set for a minimum of two months. We are committed to ensuring all of our staff, approximately 200 people, receive the same level of compensation as they previously received (either from All Hands and Hearts or via access to government sponsored programs) during this two-month period.
- Shut down our Headquarters Office. We closed our organizational headquarters in Massachusetts, on March 16th giving our team the ability to work remotely. As a global organization, the majority of our staff already work remotely and we have enabled all of them to continue to do so.
- Donated all Relevant In-Stock Equipment and Materials. Our disaster relief activities require us to use face masks, protective suits, gloves and hand sanitizer. We have donated all of our in-stock supplies to health centers and community groups who, in critical need of these items, requested our assistance. To date, we have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of personal protective equipment (i.e. N95 masks, sterile gloves, units of hand sanitizer and Tyvek suits) to the following institutions: to the following institutions: UCLA Medical Center, St. Luke’s Hospital in MA, Boston Medical Center, UMASS Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital, Rochester Medical Center in NY, South Shore Hospital in MA, Mayo Clinic in WI, Valley Hospital in NV, and a number of community groups (all of which were recommended by our community of staff, volunteers and alumni). At this time, we have now exhausted all of our relevant supplies.
- Postponement of Fundraising Events. We have postponed or canceled all of our upcoming fundraising events around the world. We will determine if we reschedule, cancel or hold the event virtually on an event-by-event basis when it is safe and appropriate to do so.
- Advising our Community to Follow Expert Advice. We are proactively communicating with our community of staff and volunteers to stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. We have requested everyone follow the advice of their national and local public health authorities on how to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 and not to self-deploy.
- Knowledge Share. We aim to support the global community in building resilience in the face of crisis by speaking to what we have learned through our work as a disaster-relief nonprofit, powered by volunteers and a remote workforce.
- Adhering to Humanitarian Principles. All Hands and Hearts is obliged to prevent and mitigate any negative impact of its actions on affected populations. We will not deploy our staff or volunteers until it is safe to do so, and we will not offer advice and services outside of our area of expertise, as this could put our team and the global community at greater risk.
- Commitment to Do Our Part. We remain committed to continually reviewing the quickly-evolving situation. Following expert advice is integral to determining how we can provide additional support in a safe, effective and meaningful way.
The best guidance we can give to our globally dispersed community is to slow the spread of the coronavirus and save lives by staying at home. If you must leave your home for essential activities, please practice social distancing.
We understand the desire to help, on a personal basis, and we offer the following thoughts for each person to consider:
- Carefully read the guidance of the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease and Prevention about how each person can best help to slow the spread of COVID-19
- Take the Global Citizen pledge to stay at home
Consider ways in which you can personally provide support from your home;
- Explore virtual volunteer opportunities suggested by the Points of Light Foundation, VolunteerMatch and local organizations in your community
- Sign up on our Alumni Network to be a mentor and skillshare remotely
- Inspire your community by sharing how you are helping from home
If you decide to volunteer,
- Only work with organizations that have an existing community connection and maintain operations to support the needs they are addressing while taking all necessary measures, and following expert guidance, to slow the spread of COVID-19;
- Before engaging in any activities, carefully balance the desire to help against the threats it may present to you and those the organization is aiming to support;
- As we always advise, this is not the time to self-deploy, even though the desire to help is real, as you could cause more harm than good.