All Hands and Hearts

Building disaster resilient communities

OUR STORY

Volunteers Help Rebuild a Million Lives Impacted by Natural Disasters

On Dec. 26, 2004, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the western coast of northern Sumatra and triggered the largest natural disaster in modern history – The Great Indian Ocean Tsunami. The gigantic wave destroyed communities along the surrounding coasts of the Indian Ocean and killed more than 250,000 people in 14 countries.

The devastation inspired us to join hearts and hands to create a non-profit that has had a tremendous global impact helping people around the world hurt by this and other natural disasters.

Our mission began in the wake of the tsunami, when technology executive and philanthropist David Campbell took immediate action. He collected donations from friends and colleagues before traveling to Thailand to participate in relief efforts. Realizing the critical need to connect volunteers willing to help with disaster sites that needed help, he founded the non-profit All Hands Volunteers. The organization applied a unique structured-response model to disaster situations that combined the rapid deployment of volunteers to disaster zones worldwide with donation support and long-term planning until the community stabilizes.

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Petra Nemcova experienced the Tsunami first-hand while in Khao Lak, Thailand, where she suffered serious internal injuries and a broken pelvis while clinging to a palm tree for eight hours before being rescued. Inspired by her experience, she founded the Happy Hearts Fund, which focused on rebuilding and renewing schools affected by natural disasters. For Nemcova, the organization is not just rebuilding homes, schools, and other infrastructure—it’s rebuilding lives.

“We always encourage the volunteers to be there if a homeowner wants to talk,” she said. “For the families who have suffered, we are providing physical rebuilding, but beyond that, we are providing hope and emotional healing and strength to go on.”

Campbell and Nemcova first met in 2007, when both All Hands Volunteers and Happy Hearts Fund independently responded to relief efforts for an earthquake in Peru. Our organizations then joined forces in 2015 for the Nepal Earthquake Recovery Program. As a team, we focused on rebuilding classrooms and facilities and installing systems for safe drinking water. The collaborative effort showed us the two complementary non-profits make a greater impact together, so our organizations officially merged in 2017 to become All Hands and Hearts (AHAH).

Based in Mattaposett, Mass., we are committed to effectively and efficiently addressing the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters. Our organization arrives early to assist with response efforts and stays late to rebuild schools and homes in a disaster-resilient way. Our community assistance projects around the world have included donations and volunteer efforts in over 100 different disaster relief programs that take into account the need for long term recovery support.

Between 70-80% of donations to disaster relief occur within the first two months of a disaster. With only 5% of all giving allocated to long-term building, AHAH helps to bridge the gap between short term donations and long term, sustained recovery. We also maximize donations: 96 cents of every dollar is donated to our programs.

“We believe that giving back should have no limitations.”

Our organization is different from other aid groups because it is volunteer-powered and engages with local communities affected by natural disasters to build disaster-resilient infrastructure. The volunteers make the work a reality. They are not required to have any set of skills or experience in the world of disaster relief; expert staff train them on the job. Volunteers only need enthusiasm, dedication, and their time – for as long as they wish to give.

We believe giving back should have no limitations. Along with volunteers, experienced and qualified staff members help train local masons and tradespeople in resilient building techniques, empowering community members to best serve the communities in which they live.

AllHandsAndHearts.org is the online hub that connects the organization’s global teams, donors and volunteers from different regions and nationalities as they rally to serve in disaster areas around the world. The site enables these groups to show their mission in action through the positive impact made on communities, to recruit and sign up volunteers for programs, to receive online donations, to offer resources for fundraising, and offers other essential functionalities.

The .ORG domain is critical to our identity as a non-profit.

“It conveys a sense of mission, purpose, and has drawn people in to understand more about our unique and powerful model—volunteer-powered disaster relief,” Campbell said. “We help people help people.”

Mission

We serve the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters.

Awards/Achievements

  • 144 Volunteer Nationalities
  • 106 Disaster Programs
  • 18 Countries Served
  • 257 Schools Completed
  • Helping send over 109,000 Children Back to School