All Hands and Hearts - Smart Response


All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response efficiently and effectively addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters. By listening to local people, and deploying our unique model of engaging volunteers to enable direct impact, we rebuild safe, resilient schools, homes and other community infrastructure.

Through volunteer and community engagement, we aim to help families recover faster after natural disasters using our “smart response” strategy. By rebuilding in a disaster resilient way, we prepare them for future events and, through the process, strengthen both volunteers and communities.


6 County Road,
Suite 6,
Mattapoisett, MA 02739
United States


Yes, I recommend this program

I just finished 2 weeks with Ahah in Dominica and had a great time. We worked hard at rebuilding a school and houses after the hurricane.

Expect to be moving dirt, concrete or wood a lot. Expect to get dirty and sweaty some times.

Expect to look over at someone else who is also dirty and you both smile.

We played hard at Creole fest and the volunteer dunk tank. What i liked best is how quickly new people are brought in to a community of 40+ volunteers. Whether you are staying a week or 3 months you quickly have friends from around the world and in the local community.

I have volunteered with All Hands in Houston and plan to do it again in Nepal.

I good group that is easy to work with on your schedule.

Boy is 750 characters a lot for a review. Not sure what else to say other than try it out on any of the All Hands and Hearts projects.

What would you improve about this program?
More showers :) there are a lot of people on base so making sure everyone can get through showers and lunch is important.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered for four weeks in Nepal Haibung Project. It was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. All Hands and Hearts is doing such great work on the field. It was great to interact with the community and the its kids. I learned new skills and met some amazing people. I highly recommend this program if you want to help Nepal get back on its feet. As this program is resuming again in October 2018, I hope more and more volunteers apply for it and the program can have maximum impact.

Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered with All hands and Hearts houston in March. My fiancé and I went for a week which I thought would be enough but after how much we loved it and enjoyed our time I wish we had stayed 3 months. Everything was very well organised, everyone we met was so friendly we made some friends. The site supervisor Barrett would we worked with was very welcoming and so encouraging, he was patience and kind and made us feel like we could achieve anything. All the staff made us feel at home and were genuinely interested in getting to know us. The food and accommodation was well organised and cleaned daily by volunteers.

Not to sound too cliche but the experience was life changing and made us both feel differently about how we see ourselves and others and want to give our time to more programmes in the future.
I would recommend everyone to give even just one week you get as much as you give. It’s awesome

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing, the programme and organisation is fantastic!!
Yes, I recommend this program

I arrived in Nepal on April 25, 2016, 1 year to the day since the earthquake struck. As soon as I arrived I knew this place would be a second home and I would never want to leave! I immediately extended my stay on the program to the full 5 months (Nepal visa restriction) and it was the best decision I have made!

This was a life-changing experience for me in so many ways. I was able to form strong bonds with the local community and as well as other volunteers on the program. I can honestly say these people will remain in my life forever. All Hands also allowed me to develop professional skills and gave me a foot in the door to working for a Humanitarian NGO.

The work is tough, you will sweat like you have never sweated before, but it is all for a good reason, that reason is the community you are helping. The love and kindness they showed me was worth every second of work I put in!

I ended up returning and in total was with All Hands and Hearts in Nepal for 11 months.I attend the handovers of 6 schools that we built, and the teams have since built even more! As soon as I can I will absolutely be returning!

What would you improve about this program?
No possible way. Keep going!
Yes, I recommend this program

I love this organization with all of my heart. I first started volunteering on the Louisiana program in August 2016, when the floods in Baton Rouge and Denham Springs first happened. I signed up for a week in between university semesters, and I knew from my first week that I was hooked. I came back in December to serve with the organization in Louisiana for another five weeks, and returned again in July for another ten months.

Since then, I've been exposed to so many people throughout the world who are eager to make a difference. At the time, I was a disgruntled political science student and seeing how many wonderful people are willing to sacrifice their time and other commitments to help someone else in need spoke volumes to me. Not only will you get to meet people from around the world and be exposed to new cultures, but you'll also learn new skills and help a community in need. Before volunteering with All Hands and Hearts, I had never used a construction tool in my life before, but everyone is so patient and eager to help that it was fun to pick it up.

Thank you for changing my life, All Hands and Hearts. You flipped it around in the best way possible, and I owe a lot of love to the organization for doing it.

What would you improve about this program?
Everything is ran flawlessly.


1 month ago
All Hands and Hearts - Smart Response


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Heather Curtis

Classically trained as an opera singer, Heather backpacked the world for two years and returned to the States with a whole new perspective. She found passion in disaster relief volunteering and has been hooked on this amazing experience ever since.

Why did you choose this program?

I love All Hands Volunteers. The organization is so welcoming, you learn so many valuable skills, you meet incredible people from all over the world who quickly become your family.

You learn things about yourself and grow in ways you never knew you could. It's the best thing I have ever been a part of in my life.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Take a chance. Jump in. This will quite possibly be the best experience of your life.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

We typically wake up at 7 am, make breakfast, and pack lunch. Before our transportation arrives at 8 am, we help team leaders to gather tools for the day. Once we arrive at the worksite, we help to set up the tools and work stations for the day.

We are currently working in Louisiana after devastating floods hit the region last August. We are now working on the finishing phase - flooring, doors, cabinets, countertops, trim, painting.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

It's quite common to fear the unknown. If traveling alone, there's also the fear of not making friends. Have no fear - you'll make fast friends soon after you arrive on base.

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Jessica Thompson

Job Title
All Hands' Director of Volunteer Coordination
Jess Thompson is All Hands and Hearts' Training and Development Manager. She helps make sure staff and volunteers have the training they need to be efficient and effective in the field.

Did you volunteer abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?

I volunteered with All Hands for 16 months in Indonesia and Haiti before becoming staff. Like all of our volunteers, I was driven to help those who need support following the impact of a natural disaster

As with a large number of our alumni I signed up for just a couple of weeks but the work was so meaningful, my fellow volunteers so inspirational and the communities so welcoming I found I didn't want to leave. In the last five years I have now been to 17 projects, and a part of many more from my desk at home, and seeing communities being supported on the road to recovery is as satisfying as it was my first week on the ground as a volunteer.

What does the future hold for All Hands Volunteers - any exciting new programs to share?

As a disaster response organization it is impossible for us to predict where and when our next project will be. We have cleaned up after floods, rebuilt after typhoons, cleared debris after tornados and shoveled snow after the historical snowstorms that hit the Boston area this year.

If local mechanisms, agencies and individuals are overwhelmed by the scale of the damage All Hands will look at ways that volunteers can plug in and fill the gaps, whether this mean winterizing homes in Colorado or building boats in Samar. We're always looking for unmet needs in the communities we serve and how we can use the motivation and dedication of our volunteers to address them.

Do your volunteers require certain qualifications or go through a training process?

All Hands is committed to enabling motivated people to assist communities affected by natural disasters. We try to remove as many barriers to participation as possible so that our volunteer population is as diverse and innovative as possible.

We do not require our volunteers to have any special skills or previous experience, and there is no minimum or maximum amount of time you must sign up for. If you have the time and ability to travel to the location of our of our projects, and we have space, you're in! Our Team Leaders will share their expertise with you, making sure you have all the information and techniques you need to have a positive and productive time in the field.

What is the level of cultural immersion your volunteers receive?

All of our projects involve lots of interaction with the local community. We welcome local residents as volunteers, and many projects hire a large local workforce to help us with highly skilled tasks such as translation and construction.

You'll also work side by side with the homeowners and beneficiaries you're assisting, clearing basements of debris, building houses, cutting down and removing fallen trees and so on. Outside of the workday, you are free to explore the area as much as you'd like, eating in mom and pop restaurants, riding local transport and getting roped into the local sport of choice - your skill level is irrelevant!