From the Alumni Corner, The RELIEF Foundation gives us an update on what they have been up to since the Love Back Ball.
To begin, we would like to thank everyone who attended The Love Back Ball and donated to our fundraiser put on by the amazing nonprofit Giveadelphia!
We are all living through an unprecedented time right now, which is creating a lot of uncertainty about when we will return to “normal” and what the “new normal” will be. The pandemic and quarantine have impacted all non-profits, and RELIEF is no exception. We were planning three trips that have all had to be put on hold. We were developing trips to help those affected by the Woolsey Fire in California, Earthquakes in Puerto Rico and the Bushfires in Australia. Since travel is being restricted and borders have been closed, we are just one of many disaster relief nonprofits that are no longer able to bring aid to these communities. Our hearts go out to these communities who are not just recovering from a natural disaster, but now, a pandemic as well. We will be planning and organizing these trips again as soon as CDC guidelines permit.
What were we planning?
Woolsey Fire - The Woolsey Fire destroyed many communities throughout Los Angeles in November 2018. We were working with the Los Angeles Long Term Disaster Recovery Group and Los Angeles Region Community Recovery Organization to bring aid to those still dealing with the effects of the Woolsey Fire. Some of our projects included revitalizing a community called Seminole Springs, they lost 110 of 215 homes. Our goal was to bring aid to this community through building repairs, garden renovations and debris cleanup. Another project we had to put on hold was to help rebuild a horse ranch called Trancas Riders and Ropers that was completely destroyed during the fire. The events put on at the ranch went to funding underserved communities throughout Los Angeles and animal rights education.
Puerto Rico Earthquakes - In January Puerto Rico was hit by devastating earthquakes
throughout the island. This highlighted the underlying issues that were left over from the effects of Hurricane Maria. Many lost their homes and businesses due to the earthquakes that continued for weeks. The island was hit by even more earthquakes throughout the last month, resulting in increased damages. We were working on ways to assist our partners that we aided during our trip to help those affected by Hurricane Maria in 2018, such as the medical clinic Cossao Mameyes. In addition, we were planning a scouting trip to assess how we can best be of aid to those affected by the earthquakes. We began working with an organization called In The Light who had identified those in need on the island. This organization had plans to assist rebuild efforts in Puerto Rico in late March. Those plans had to be put on hold due to Covid-19. We are still speaking with this organization on a weekly basis to be able to mobilize with them to help those affected by the earthquakes as soon as conditions permit.
Australia Bushfires - Through a connection we made from Giveadelphia, Adam Fiore, we were able to begin looking for ways to help those affected by the Australian Bushfires. We had conversations with many individuals that led us to a community in Cobargo, Australia, known as the Bega Valley. They lost more than half of their homes to the bushfires. We have been speaking with (and even interviewed on our Instagram Live) a community leader named Debra Summer, who is a Celebrant and Death Doula for the community. We have been working with her on ways to assist the community. These included ways to bolster their ongoing efforts of home rebuilding, farm repairs and increasing access to electricity through implementation of a solar grid. Many in this community are living in tents due to the bushfires and have no way to socially isolate and protect themselves from the coronavirus. Winter has just begun for this community and many have no permanent infrastructure to protect them from the cold. Sadly, we were informed by Debra that one of her community members committed suicide due to the insurmountable challenges these concurrent disasters caused.
Enough doom and gloom…. What are we doing to help right now?
We have launched a few initiatives during the pandemic to do our part during this crisis. Since we can’t travel all over the world to bring help to communities in these times, we came up with ways anyone can help no matter where they are. You can do all of these sitting in the comfort of
- Help to combat the PPE shortage in underserved communities
- Provide online education about critical issues related to Covid-19
- Work to help support frontline non-profits
- Ask members to volunteer their time to help support the mental health of the most
vulnerable members of society during these uncertain times.
1. Combat the PPE Shortage - The RELIEF Foundation will be donating KN95 masks to
organizations that are suffering from a PPE shortage once a month. We have already
donated KN95 masks to those affected by the Woolsey Fire and are discussing a
potential partnership with the Broad Street Ministry to get PPE to the homeless
population they serve in Philadelphia. We would like to mobilize and engage our
member group to donate PPE to causes they are passionate about and that they know
are having a PPE shortage. To help cover the cost of this initiative, we are creating a
“Mask Brigade,” a group of individuals committed to a monthly subscription to help us
cover the costs of these donations and fight the PPE shortage. The goal is to get these
masks to the organizations that our members are passionate about and get them
involved with the process of giving in an intentional way.
2. Interview Series - There are many ways that Covid-19 is affecting the world around us.
Our goal is to raise awareness on specific issues and address these topics with an
expert in the field. For example, our first interview was with Debra Summer (mentioned
above) and the topic was in regards to how those who were already suffering from a
natural disaster have been affected by Covid-19. Our next interview, at 5:30 EST on
Wednesday 5/27, is with Dr. Norine Vanderhooven, and will focus on the mental health
challenges posed by Covid-19. She is a mental health professional who also conducts
training for those volunteering their time on a suicide hotline. Our next three interview
topics are about homelessness, the prison system and addiction and how they have
been affected by the pandemic. The goal of this interview series is to turn our members
into ambassadors for a cause and raise awareness about these pertinent issues.
3. Quarantalk - Over 50% of the population has some comorbidity making them even more susceptible to Covid-19. These individuals must be extra careful during this time not to come into contact with anyone unless absolutely necessary. This can take a serious toll on the mental health of this population. These individuals are either elderly,
immunocompromised or just feeling lonely. We are asking for our members to volunteer
some time to chat and just ask, “how are you feeling?” Once you sign up, we will connect
you for a phone call or a video chat. Just a few minutes of your time can go a long way
to helping with someone's mental health and wellbeing.
4. Fight COVID with $5 - The nonprofit Conscious Kitchen is on the front lines distributing
meals to anyone under the age of 18 who comes to one of their pickup points. They
operate in one of the most underserved areas, not just in California, but in the entire
United States. Now that these children are not in school, these families can not afford to
provide them with the two meals a day they were given by the school system. For just $5
you can provide a child with one of these meals.
There you have it… No matter who you are, no matter how you like to give, there is now a way for you to do so. You can donate your time, dollars, attention or even social media following to do your part and help out during this trying time.
Head to our website therelieffoundation.org to learn more!
Lastly, RELIEF is only able to help these communities who are now struggling even more due to this pandemic with help from members like you! Remember to donate and consider making your donation a monthly subscription!