With everything going on over the last couple of weeks – Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the earthquake in Mexico City, another hurricane in Puerto Rico – I wanted to share a few organizations bringing some much needed good to the world. One of my goals for the year is to find an organization that I feel great about donating to on a consistent basis and the thing I keep hearing over and over again is: go local.
Although I think there are national organizations doing good – I particularly appreciate the work Planned Parenthood and the YWCA do – but when I think about who is on the ground when disaster strikes it makes a lot of sense to donate locally. These organizations know the needs of the community and often specialize in a particular niche or kind of supplies.
Seeing as donating money is often said to be the most efficient way to help, here are a few places to consider donating to, if you can…
- One of my favorite podcasts, Call Your Girlfriend, mentioned an organization that specializes in sending menstrual supplies to victims of Hurricane Harvey. I imagine menstrual health products are often forgotten about in the chaos of a storm, but you don’t stop having a period just because there’s a hurricane. I donated to this organization in particular and here’s a whole article on various organization doing this kind of work post-Harvey.
- Another organization I kept hearing about was the Texas Diaper Bank. A friend of mine at work began a diaper collection for some local organizations here in Madison, so I had diapers on the brain already. Many relief organizations don’t supply diapers to families in shelters, so diapers can be a real need for parents with young children and many older adults, too. Another local, niche organization making a real impact.
- I kept seeing a name pop up again and again after the earthquake in Mexico: Los Topos or “the moles”. They’re a volunteer rescue group founded in 1985 after an enormous earthquake killed 9500 people in the Mexico City area. They wade through rubble to pull out survivors and bodies of those killed in earthquakes to save lives and bring peace to families in their community. The New York Times did a roundup of local Mexican organizations to donate to, including information about donating to Los Topos.
- Most recently, Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico leaving most without power or communication. Hospitals are running low on fuel and supplies, which strikes me particularly strongly now that I work in medical software. Here we are in Wisconsin having a big celebratory customer conference while so many suffer in another part of the United States – it’s mind boggling. The Puerto Rican first lady, Beatriz Rosselló, has created a campaign that will funnel money to local organizations from donations and private sector sponsors – Unidos Por Puerto Rico. Lin-Manual Miranda is also endorsing the Hispanic Federation to send funds, as well.
On a personal note, I was especially heartbroken to see the devastation that hit the Caribbean and the island of St. Maarten. My family and I visited around Christmas a couple of years ago: I remember our time there being so relaxing and reflective. We took a road trip around the island one afternoon – which you can do since its 13 square miles – and we found the most amazing beaches and restaurants tucked in the corners of the island. We cherished our brief time there and thinking about our trip made all of this feel more tangible and horrible somehow.
I can’t even imagine what the people living there must be going through now. 95% of homes have been damaged and 60% are uninhabitable, aid is slow to reach them, and many fear they’ll be forgotten in the relief efforts, a fear mirrored by those in Puerto Rico, as well. The photos of both places are unbelievable. I’m still on the search for a local St. Maarten charity that is doing hurricane relief – please let me know if you know of any!
Do you guys know of any great organizations worth supporting? Sometimes it’s so hard to know where your money really goes and I feel like personal recommendations go a long way here. Also, I want to say that of course donating money isn’t the only way to help and keeping your local communities strong through volunteer work and activism is always an amazing thing to do. We can’t be everywhere and do everything. Stay strong and safe, friends.