Posts Categorized: Updates

On the Ground in Colorado: Day Two

Posted On: Filed Under: All Hands Updates, CO Flood Response, Home Page, Program Updates / Assessments, Updates, Website No Comments on On the Ground in Colorado: Day Two

The rain continues, but the All Hands team is in Colorado and we will be launching a project as soon as it is safe to do so.

Today, Sherry (director of US Response) and Meg (Volunteer and Field Coordination) reported from the field.

Please Do Not Self-Deploy! It is dangerous to you and any you may try to help.

Register your interest in volunteering with All Hands HERE, or call our Volunteer Hotline: 720-961-3787. We’ll let you know as soon as we open our doors for volunteers.

Support All Hands’ recovery efforts in Colorado by making a contribution. Thank you!

You can also donate $10 by texting RESPOND to 80088. Press “1” to confirm your donation.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest AHV news and information.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Colorado Flooding: Update from the Field

Posted On: Filed Under: All Hands Updates, Home Page, Program Updates / Assessments, Updates, Website No Comments on Colorado Flooding: Update from the Field

The All Hands Assessment Team is in Colorado, surveying the damage from the ongoing rains and massive flooding.

Here’s what Sherry and Rachel had to say after their first full day on the ground. (Film credits go to Meg!)

To support All Hands’ disaster recovery efforts, make a $10 donation by texting RESPOND to 80088. Press “1” to confirm your donation.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest AHV news and information.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Announcing the Completion of Project Pagatpat!

Posted On: Filed Under: All Hands Updates, Home Page, Program Updates / Assessments, Uncategorized, Updates, Website No Comments on Announcing the Completion of Project Pagatpat!

Announcing the Completion of Project Pagatpat!

We are pleased to announce the completion of Project Pagatpat in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines! In partnership with Habitat for Humanity, we built 88 quality homes for Typhoon Sendong survivors in 5 short months.  This brings a total of over 300 homes built by All Hands in Cagayan de Oro!

Our 44 duplexes are part of the larger Habitat for Humanity build on the Pagatpat worksite. Once the utilities are connected and the roads are built, the homes will be opened to the beneficiaries, all of whom lost their homes in the typhoon. We are confident that once the All Hands homes are assigned, the families who own them will have sturdy, well-built, disaster resistant homes that will stand the test of time and shelter them for many years to come.

It has been a hard and often uniquely challenging job, but anything and everything is possible with a winning combination of motivated staff, ambitious volunteers and a skilled local workforce. Special thanks to the 70+ international volunteers, over 85 local volunteers, and our local workforce – 86 strong at its peak. We tip our hats to each and every person who gave their time, sweat, and – sometimes – blood to make Project Pagatpat a success.

We would also like to thank those who made this project possible through their generous support, from our partner Habitat for Humanity, to our donors and volunteers, who collectively raised thousands of dollars so that we could serve the Cagayan de Oro community.

In addition to all who have worked on Project Pagatpat, a special thank you to Construction Program Manager Paul Raddant, Construction Supervisor Brian Deubert, and Construction Coordinator Raphael Read. Together they kept Pagatpat on schedule, under budget and made sure we completed our buildings on time.  With your help we have now completed building over 300 homes for the people of Cagayan de Oro.

Recap: All Hands Volunteers 100km Cycle Challenge!

Posted On: Filed Under: All Hands Updates, Events, Home Page, Uncategorized, Updates, Website No Comments on Recap: All Hands Volunteers 100km Cycle Challenge!

AHV 100km Cycle Challenge

On Saturday, 7th September, a group of 24 brave souls met at a campsite in The New Forest, Hampshire, UK to take on the challenge of cycling 100km (on road) or 55km (off road) to raise funds for All Hands Volunteers.

We braved the good old British “summer”, which included some serious downpours and sunshine, had some 10+ punctures (five of those were Ian Forrest’s alone!), two falls with minimal physical injuries (greater injuries to egos) and grave damage to precious bikes (still trying to get our priorities right Tim…!), and spent a fantastic weekend in the company of a great bunch of people!

A big thank you to all who joined and made it a fabulous All Hands weekend – and to all who sponsored our participants!

Special thanks to our sponsors EquiLend, Tynan D’Arcy and Hotcake for making it all possible.

It’s also not too late to help move our cyclists past their fundraising finish line! You can sponsor one (or more!) of our participants HERE.

AHV UK 100km Cycle Challenge

Tags: , , , , , ,

Meet The Newest Additions To Our All Hands Team!

Posted On: Filed Under: All Hands Updates, Home Page, Uncategorized, Updates, Website No Comments on Meet The Newest Additions To Our All Hands Team!

New Staff

As All Hands continues to bolster our U.S. Program capabilities and capacity, we are pleased to announce the addition of two seasoned professionals to the management team.

Sherry Buresh has joined All Hands as the new Director of U.S. Assessments and Disaster Response after having spent many years (in various capacities) in the disaster relief area. Sherry comes to All Hands with a deep understanding of volunteer coordination, the U.S. Disaster response landscape, and the value that volunteer organizations (like All Hands) can offer to communities impacted by a natural disaster.

Bob Calhoun has also joined All Hands as the new Director of U.S. Response and Rebuild, and will focus his efforts on All Hands on-going response and repair/rebuild efforts in communities impacted by natural disasters (current projects include Project Long Island and Project Staten Island). Bob has over 10 years of non-profit experience in this area, having led Habitat for Humanity affiliates in North Carolina and the Florida Keys. Bob also brings a strong background in understanding the value of integrating volunteers into construction projects to lower overall costs and to help those impacted by disaster move forward on the path to recovery.

In addition, we are pleased to announce that Sara Hannafin has joined us as All Hands’ new Director of Development. Sara has extensive experience in development, working for a number of highly respected non-profit organizations in the New England are – most recently with the Warner Theater in Torrington, CT.

Finally, we have also named Abby Derrig as the new Director of Human Resources for All Hands. Abby is a highly experienced human resources professional who has held positions of increasing responsibility with companies like Gillette and AAA.

Read more about these new additions to All Hands on our Staff Page.

Tags: , , ,

All Hands Volunteers – Celebrating Eight Years!

Posted On: Filed Under: All Hands Updates, Home Page, Uncategorized, Updates, Website No Comments on All Hands Volunteers – Celebrating Eight Years!


Eight years ago today Darius and I (David) were in Mississippi, prepared by our shared post-tsunami experience in Thailand, confident that our “engaged volunteer” model would work in the US, and committed to doing what we could to help in the aftermath of the worst natural disaster in US history, Hurricane Katrina. After 32 projects, both domestic and international, it is clear that the “engaged volunteer” model is needed and valuable tothose communities that have been damaged by a natural disaster.

We were “Born in Biloxi” as Hands on USA, but the energy and compassionof those original 1,500 volunteers launched our own movement, All HandVolunteers, which has taken us around the world, and now back home to ourlargest project ever, helping out with the Superstorm Sandy response effort. In the 10 months since that unprecedented storm, we have enabled almost 3,000 volunteers to muck & gut, treat for mold, and now repair/rebuild in a combined 450 homes, in Staten Island and Long Island.

Thanks to all who have worked with us, and supported us, and trusted us along the way. We hope we can continue to count on you as we work to have an ever greater impact, by mobilizing more volunteers in more places, this coming year!

David Campbell | Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors

Erik Dyson | Executive Director

Tags: , , , ,

Japan – A Lasting Impact

Posted On: Filed Under: All Hands Updates, Home Page, Updates, Website No Comments on Japan – A Lasting Impact

Tamera and Loc Check Presentation

Mr. Yasuyuki Sugiura, President of The Nippon Club, presenting AHV with a check for our Oklahoma relief efforts.

We did not know, when we landed in Japan a few short days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, the lasting impact our experiences there would have on us, and the work we were doing over two years later and half-way around the world in central Oklahoma, US.

After Mayor Kimiaki Toda of Ofunato, a coastal city of 50,000 in the Iwate Prefecture, invited All Hands into the community, we established Project Tohoku on April 12, 2011, and worked with community members to muck and gut homes and businesses, clean out a fish factory (that was a dirty and smelly job!), clear drainage systems, restore treasured family photos – and do anything else that needed to be done.

Over seven months, 12,000 people helped, and more than 1,000 volunteers from 34 countries later, we completed Project Tohoku. It was bittersweet to leave a community we cared deeply about and the people we had worked side-by-side with for many months, but we left knowing that we had helped Ofunato make significant strides in its recovery. We also knew that we had the full support of the Ofunato community to move on and serve others in need via major responses in the Philippines and the US.

Although our ties to Ofunato and the people of Japan are strong, never did we anticipate the ways those ties would manifest in support of our response to the tornadoes in and around Moore, OK in May of this year – just over two years after the earthquake and tsunami hit their own communities, the people of Japan were giving back in a big way.

Following the devastating tornadoes on May 19th and 20th, one of our All Hands assessment teams was quickly deployed to the area, and we established Project Moore a few days later on May 29, 2013.

Our friends in Japan – many in honor of the work we had done in Ofunato, and wanting to help the US people as they had been helped after the earthquake and tsunami – rushed in to support Project Moore and the Oklahoma recovery efforts.

A few months prior, in February 2013, All Hands received a very generous donation from the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York, Inc. (JCCI) and The Nippon Club for our Superstorm Sandy response. JCCI members, as residents of New York and surrounding areas, were themselves dealing with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, and they wanted to find a way to support the recovery efforts. Based on our work on Project Ofunato and our ties to Japan, JCCI identified All Hands and, through their donation, contributed to initial debris clearing, mucking and gutting – and later, mold treatment – for over 400 homes and families in both the Long Island and Staten Island areas.

After the Moore, OK area tornadoes struck, JCCI once again reached out to All Hands to support our Oklahoma recovery efforts – even though they had limited connection to Oklahoma themselves, it was important for JCCI to continue to give back to communities, like their own, that had been devastated by natural disasters.

Equally remarkable was a gift from Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives) and 47 of its partner organizations. After hearing a speech given by former Ambassador to Japan John Roos at a conference in Morioka, the members of Keizai Doyukai raised $30,000 for relief efforts in Oklahoma to honor the support from the United States in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In conjunction with Ambassador Roos’ speech to the 1,000 top Keizai Doyukai executives who were present, and because Ambassador Roos volunteered on Project Tohoku, Keizai Doyukai chose to support All Hands.

And in one of the most inspiring and heartfelt examples of the people of Japan wanting to give back by supporting tornado recovery efforts in Oklahoma, a number of companies and individuals went to the US Embassy to find out how they could contribute. Hideko Oikawa, of Oikawa Denim – a jeans company that was washed away by the 2011 tsunami, was one of those. Since the tsunami, Ms. Oikawa has played an instrumental role in helping the residents of Japan return to normalcy. She, along with others in her community, pooled funds and arrived at the US Embassy with cash in hand, ready to donate. The embassy, which cannot accept donations, suggested supporting an organization like All Hands – organizations they knew had worked in Japan in 2011 and which were also working in Oklahoma in response to the tornadoes.

Thank you to all of our friends and supporters from Japan – including JCCI, The Nippon Club, Keizai Doyukai, and all of the people who went to the US Embassy wanting to give back – who make it possible for All Hands to serve communities around the world who have been impacted by natural disasters!


Tags: , , , , , ,

Welcome to Project Pagatpat: Let’s Build a House, Part 2

Posted On: Filed Under: All Hands Updates, Home Page, Project Pagatpat, Updates, Website No Comments on Welcome to Project Pagatpat: Let’s Build a House, Part 2

Welcome to part two of Project Pagatpat’s guide to the construction process. In part one we discussed digging and forming the foundations ­of our steel-reinforced concrete duplex buildings. In part two we turn to matters above the ground, starting with building the walls of our houses in a process known as piling.

Piling involves laying down layers of blocks and cement until the ringbeam, which sits above the walls of the house, is reached.

(Ring)beam me up, Scotty

The ringbeam is a solid concrete beam running around the perimeter of the building. It helps to make a building earthquake resistant by tying together all its corners, enabling it to withstand violent shaking without collapsing.

The sky’s the limit

With the ringbeam set we lay more block above the front and rear walls of the building, giving the house a triangle-shaped top known as a gable. Eight decorative blocks, one bearing the All Hands logo, are added for ventilation. Above the wall separating the two houses of each duplex, we pile more block to form a firewall which is required by Filipino building regulations to prevent fire spreading between houses.

To top it all off, we add a roof system composed of steel rafters topped with galvanized steel roofing tin. A ridge cap is placed on top of the firewall to cover the space between the roofing sheets and the concrete blocks, ensuring that the rain stays out.


Next comes finishing or rendering which involves covering the blocks of the internal and external walls with yet more masa (concrete) to smooth out the surface.

Keeping a level head

Then around 30 cubic meters of dirt (that’s about three large garbage trucks’ worth) is thrown into each house in a process known as leveling. This is done to raise the internal floor of the building to at least 25 centimeters above ground level. The dirt is compacted, topped with a layer of gravel, and then a layer of concrete is poured on top.


With the finishing process complete, we paint the now-smooth exterior walls a fetching combination of orange, white and yellow, with a slick of bright blue paint reserved for the decorative bricks bearing the All Hands logo.

The final countdown

Then we pop in a couple of wooden doors, a few aluminum window frames, install a functioning electrical and waste-management system, and our houses are just about done.

All Hands volunteers are involved in almost every stage of the construction process, so get ready to wield a pickaxe, brandish a bucket and come help us turn a rocky patch of soil into a sturdy home for a local family.

*Please note that this guide does not cover all the terms/processes you will encounter during your time at Project Pagatpat – some residual confusion and/or abject bewilderment should still be expected.

Article written by Klara Kubiak, Project Pagatpat Volunteer

Architectural renders provided by Charles Gatins

To read Part 1 of our step-by-step guide go to:…a-house-part-1/ ‎

Tags: , , , , ,

Welcome to Project Pagatpat: Let’s Build a House, Part 1

Posted On: Filed Under: All Hands Updates, Home Page, Project Pagatpat, Uncategorized, Updates, Website No Comments on Welcome to Project Pagatpat: Let’s Build a House, Part 1

So you’ve finally made it to Project Pagatpat ­– you’ve weaved your way through hordes of taxi drivers shouting ‘All Hands, All Hands?’ at every foreign person emerging from Laguindingan Airport and avoided a dozen suicidal stray dogs en route to the All Hands base in Cagayan de Oro. But your journey does not end here – in fact, it has only just begun.

Your initiation into the house-building process will be swift ­– from hand-mixing masa to pouring ringbeams, first-time volunteers often feel like they need a translator to understand what’s going on. So, in an attempt to make the experience less bewildering for new arrivals, we’ve put together the following layperson’s guide to the construction process. Part one deals with laying out the building area and digging and forming the foundations. Part two moves onwards and upwards to walls, windows, doors and roofs.

Designed by our partners at Habitat for Humanity, Project Pagatpat’s 44 steel-reinforced concrete buildings are earthquake- and typhoon-resistant. Each building is a duplex made up of two homes, meaning 88 local families will be housed once the project is complete.

The lay(out) of the land

The first step in the construction process is to mark our territory. After clearing the site of any debris, we lay out the building area using Habitat’s designs and some rather eye-catching fluorescent string (known as mason line) attached to stakes in the ground.

Foundations for success

Once the building area has been marked, we dig. A lot. For hours. Sometimes for days. And always in 30 degree celsius (close to 90 degree farenheit) heat. We use pick axes and shovels and occasionally someone breaks out a sledge hammer. We dig our way through soil, rocks, tree stumps and the remnants of old roads. Our foundation trenches are dug at least 35 cm down from ground level to ensure our buildings are properly anchored in the soil.


Once we’ve dug the foundations we insert rebar ­­–­ ­ridged steel rods ­– to reinforce the building’s structure. Rebar is laid both horizontally, along the foundation trenches, and vertically, sticking upwards from the ground.

We’re going to need more masa!

With the rebar ready it’s time to pour concrete into the foundations. Sand, gravel, cement and water are mixed together to form concrete, which is known as masa in the local dialect. The masa is churned in a cement mixer and deposited into buckets. Local workers and volunteers stand in what is known as a bucket line, passing buckets full of masa to the trenches, into which they are emptied.

In our next installment we’ll discuss the work that happens above ground level to turn our foundations into sturdy homes worthy of bearing the All Hands logo. 

Article written by Klara Kubiak, Project Pagatpat Volunteer

Architectural renders provided by Charles Gatins

To read Part 2 of our step-by-step guide to go:

Tags: , , , , ,

Local Staff and Volunteer Jeudy Djemson’s “Positive!”

Posted On: Filed Under: All Hands Updates, Home Page, Uncategorized, Updates, Website No Comments on Local Staff and Volunteer Jeudy Djemson’s “Positive!”

Local Haitian Staff and Volunteer Jeudy Djemson

Jeudy Djemson is from Gonaives, a city on the northern coast of Haiti where we launched a six-month project after Hurricane Hanna in 2008. Djemson worked with All Hands for an extended period of time on Project Gonaives, and then again on Project Leogane after the 2010 earthquake. Dedicated and hardworking, he contributed greatly to our work in Haiti and took on several leadership positions for a variety of projects.

Three months ago Djemson arrived in the USA for the first time to intern with Earthcorps, an organization dedicated to building global environmental leaders. On his way to Seattle, where he will be completing his Earthcorps internship, Djemson stopped in New York and spent a day with us on Project Long Island, reuniting with staff and volunteers, giving us a chance to catch up with him.

Shortly after learning about All Hands and Project Gonaives in 2008, Djemson started volunteering. Eventually, he took on a position as a Project Coordinator for a Cash for Work program, and also as a Field Coordinator, helping with assessments in the community.

When the 2010 earthquake hit Haiti, Djemson traveled from Gonaives to Leogane, the epicenter of the quake. He became a Project Coordinator for the UNDP Cash for Work program and for the Livelihoods Program that helped train small businesses to increase sales and create more jobs.

While working with All Hands, Djemson started to think not only about his own future but the future of his country. In front of the Leogane base there was a garden planted by volunteers to be used as a community learning tool, teaching locals that urban horticulture is possible and sustainable in Haiti. Djemson helped manage the garden and says, “It was the first time I started working on an environmental project. It really got me thinking about the environmental problems in my county and I started to think about ways in which I could help.”

Currently based in Seattle, Djemson is learning about environmental education, restoration, maintenance, and leadership. After he completes his six-month internship with Eathcorps, he hopes to apply his skills to a reforestation project back home. Deforestation throughout Haiti has created a severe environmental problem, contributing to erosion and flooding during the rainy season.

“The experience working with All Hands was really great for me. These opportunities helped me grow quickly and I started to see myself as someone who could help Haiti even more. It gave me the opportunity to practice what I learned in university and gain even more leadership skills. It gave me more motivation to think about my education and future plans.”

Djemson is excited to return to Haiti, and play a vital role in changing the landscape of his country. He is also excited to return home to The Children’s Home of Gonaives – an orphanage that he founded with his family in 2010 that is currently providing for 15 children.

All of us at All Hands want to congratulate Jeudy Djemson and to wish him the best of luck!

Keely Kernan
Communications Coordinator

Local Haitian Staff and Volunteer Jeudy Djemson