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All Hands and Hearts - Smart Response

About

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.

Headquarters

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

Still Have Questions?

Our Volunteer Coordination Team is here to answer any questions that you have! You'll find our contact information below. We look forward to hearing from you!

Reviews

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Mark
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I have volunteered with All Hands and Hearts (AHAH) in Puerto Rico twice since Hurricane Maria. The first time was for four months in 2018 and the second for two months in 2020. I have also volunteered with AHAH on several programs outside of the US. This organization provides a volunteer experience like no other. People of all nationalities and age groups come together to help a community recover from a natural disaster. No prior experience in disaster relief is required; you just need to show up and be willing to work. AHAH will teach you the skills necessary for the work you will do. AHAH has had a tremendous impact on the communities it has served in Puerto Rico.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Although there are a lot of opportunities to socialize with other volunteers and with the community, come knowing that you are expected to work hard.
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Sid
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My wife and I volunteered together for two weeks and then I came back for two months. The whole goal was to make a difference for the people of Puerto Rico and I feel that we accomplished that goal. But all the while we were volunteering, I felt like I gained from the experience more than what I put in to it. The other volunteers and staff are so amazing and inclusive that we are looking for more opportunities to volunteer with them in the future.

If you have the time (I know most people's time, as mine, is, important), this is one organization that you have to try. You will not regret it and will walk away with a sense of giving and a your heart enlarged.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The people are so amazing. I was on a team that was repairing windows and doors that were damaged in hurricane Maria. I had one homeowner give me a present for helping her. It really touched my heart and made my trip all the more memorable and fulfilling.
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Karin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This is my third time volunteering with AHAH here in Puerto Rico, seeing the improvements in the area is very rewarding. Driving by the little league stadiums, churches, community centers and houses that have been addressed gets more impressive with each return trip. The opportunity to get to know the individual homeowners and their stories is truly unique. The resilience and love of the Puerto Rican people is inspiring. The chance to work with people of all ages from all nationalities is also a draw for me. The friendships I've made will last a life time.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
When volunteers are working we wear very distinctive, purple t-shirts which are recognized everywhere that we go. Just running in to the grocery store could take 10-15 minutes longer as you are thanked, hugged and blessed by the store customers. Each one knows someone, friend or family, that have been, or will be helped, to make their homes safe and livable again by the AHAH volunteers.
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Dana
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Last year I volunteered with AHAH in St. Thomas and had such a great experience I decided to go to Puerto Rico for another week of volunteering. I found both locations to be very well organized and relaxed, but structured.

The communication before the trip was great. When they confirm your spot, they sent you a volunteer packet containing the work you'll be doing and information on what to bring and what it's like to stay on base. All the information was clear and helpful and I felt completely prepared before leaving. They reached out to ensure that my flights were booked and had transportation to base,

Staying on base is free and includes all three meals on the weekdays. They'll ask you to set up a donation page and I recommend donating yourself to help cover the cost in addition to sharing it with friends, family, and on social media.

Both experiences were wonderful and I plan on heading to the Bahamas next year.

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Mariel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I've been volunteering with All Hands on and off for a couple years and it's so much fun! I've been to Houston, Florida, and now Puerto Rico. I first heard about the organization when I served with AmeriCorps NCCC. I saw a Response program and fell in love. It was fast paced, full of fun individuals and so many opportunities to learn. We mucked and gutted, sanitized and then even got the chance to do rebuild. No matter what program you volunteer for it will be such a great experience. All Hands has a way of bringing strangers together and making them family. It sounds cheesy but it's true, I've met some of the most inspirational and positive people. Just check it out online, pick a spot and volunteer on your next break/vacation. No time is too little. DO IT!

What was your funniest moment?
I won a bet and poured an entire cooler of gatorade on someone. It was epic.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

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.

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!