How we used the donated funds ($1730) plus personal donations:
Surf and yoga retreat for traumatized youth: $322.70
Donation to All Hands and Hearts: $1000.00
Purchases from local vendors and artisans: $794.00
We supported a surf and yoga retreat for four teenage boys who lost family members and homes in the tsunami:
Samatahiti surf and yoga hostel in Rincon held a 5 day surf and yoga retreat for four 17 year old boys who experienced severe trauma and loss due to the earthquake. We bought the boys surf leashes ($138.26), surf wax and board fins (184.44). Samatahiti gave the boys quality used surfboards and surfing lessons. Clients and staff of BeYoutiful Yoga studio in Spokane donated mats, we brought these mats to Puerto Rico. We gave 8 of the mats to Samatahiti for the boys, and gave two mats to fellow recovery volunteers.
Renee Fussler, the owner of Samatahiti shared this with us about the surf and yoga retreat (she is a woman of few written words):
“Thank you for the leashes and fins. They were worked hard haha. And the boys loved yoga. I thought that I would have to convince them to try but they were excited to and have still been practicing on their own. So grateful to have had the weekend with them and for them to have been able to take mats home and to have new leashes and fins for their boards. We are all grateful.”
We supported the work of All Hands and Hearts
Our connection to AHAH was through a close friend who has previously done disaster recovery with AHAH on multiple occasions. My friend Merlin assured me that in his experience they were an organization whose responses were well thought out and executed caringly with good input from the affected populations.
Bekki and I volunteered with AHAH for 6 days and agreed with Merlin’s assessment. Because we feel we AHAH can be trusted to use donated funds appropriately and thoughtfully, we donated $1000 to their Puerto Rico efforts. Cindy Heinrichs and Rich Llewellyn followed our donation with donations of their own, pushing our total donated funds to $1550
We supported the Puerto Rican economy ($794 + personal expenses)
One of the best ways to help people recover is to support their local businesses. Bekki and I spent $794 buying crafts, girts, and art from local vendors and artisans all across Puerto Rico. We brought those items home to give to all of you (except those who requested that all their donation go the recovery effort).
Thank You All for your trust and support!!!
From Bekki - As many of you know, next week, Darrin and I are headed to sunny Puerto Rico! For a small part of the time we will be there, we will visit Samatahiti, a surf and yoga retreat. We are excited to get our toes in the sand, and (hopefully, given the expertise of my instructor) be cruising above the waves! We can't wait to try new delicious foods, explore nature, neighborhoods, and history, but the most satisfying and special thing we will have the pleasure of doing, will be to meet the people, and make new friends. This will of course be an eye opening journey, because as we all know, Puerto Rico was intensely devastated by Hurricane Maria, and is still suffering and desperately rebuilding.
In the research that I've done, I've found that much of the island is still without power, has extremely limited food and supplies, and are still trying to clean mold and water damage and repair what is left of their homes. The thing that has been really refreshing to see, is the joy, the feel of community, and the air of hope that remains in them. I hope that will be what we see in person when we arrive, and that we can lend to that feeling.
If I can be really honest, I was pretty nervous about the idea of going after such devastation, I asked myself, “Is this even safe?!”. Of course, Darrin has experience in community response, and has an ever giving heart. He immediately began to do research on what we can do to help.
At Samatahiti, they have decided to sponsor 5 boys who have lost family members and homes, to give them a retreat for themselves, giving them an opportunity to heal, relax, and just be kids. They are offering yoga classes, and surf lessons, donating surf boards that they will be able to take with them after the retreat. After this retreat, they would also like to be able to offer the same to a group of girls.
We are now partnering with Samatahiti to provide the supplies these kids will need to have a fantastic retreat, and be able to carry their practice and new hobbies on afterward. Samatahiti said that the boards will need some repairs, new fins, leashes, etc., and we also want to give the kids their own yoga mats, yoga towels, yoga and surf wear, rash guards and water bottles.
Outside of Samatahiti, we plan on lending a helping hand wherever we can. One of the main things we know that we can do, is to feed the economy there. We have each saved up to buy many of these supplies, and our own trip supplies on the island, and also have come up with an idea.
Because this is a great way to contribute to the economy there, we are asking if you also would like to partner with us and Samatahiti and donate some of your own funds to purchase needed supplies for these sponsored kids, and also for the people we meet that we find are still in need. Our plan is to both bring and buy supplies needed and hand them out as we encounter areas of need.
Some of the heavily requested items we would like to bring/buy are water, baby food and diapers, feminine products, batteries, blankets, towels, flashlights, medical supplies etc. We will stock up, and hand out! With any remaining donation money, we will find a worthy organization and donate the rest.
We have also decided that it would be great to make this fun and rewarding also to YOU! We have decided that a chunk of proceeds will also be used to bring back gifts to our donors! We will buy souvenirs from stores and vendors who need the support, and bring them back with us to you, along with photos of all of the places your donations were able to assist.
If you feel for Puerto Rico, and would like to give in the closest way to first hand, without crawling in our suitcases (or do?!l), please give, and expect a fine gift in return, as well as our most sincere thanks!!!