Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years Later

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There was before Katrina. And there was after Katrina.

The hurricane that roared ashore on August 29, 2005 – wiping coastlines clean and flooding an American city – changed countless lives.  Katrina changed Heart to Heart International too.

A PJ's night in New Orleans

Heart to Heart International’s response to Katrina became our largest and longest humanitarian effort to that point.
Before the storm had even subsided, HHI was mounting a relief operation, working with partners like FedEx and gathering supplies – water, medicine, medical supplies, hygiene items and more – preparing to drive and deliver them into the worst of the destruction.  People were desperately in need.  And HHI was going to help.

Read how HHI came to the rescue of Jefferson Parish emergency responders

For 18 months after the storm HHI worked along the Gulf Coast – New Orleans; Jefferson Parish; Slidell, Louisiana; Gulfport, Mississippi; Houston – providing medical care and supplies to so many communities in need.

Beyond delivering truck-loads of relief supplies, HHI mobilized medical professionals who volunteered their time to staff our mobile clinic. And we deployed a then-brand new Mobile Medical Unit which gave our team greater mobility to reach and treat the healthcare needs of people along the Gulf Coast.

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Our work in the early days and in the many months after, launched a decade of disaster and crisis response for HHI across the US and around the world.

See more photos from HHI’s time on the Gulf Coast after Katrina

The names and places are familiar:  the Sichuan Earthquake in China – the Haiti Earthquake – Joplin, Missouri – Moore, Oklahoma – the Alabama tornados – Superstorm Sandy – Hurricane Isaac – Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines – Haitian Refugee Crisis – Ebola in Liberia – the Nepal Earthquake… and in so many more places big and small.

We rely on the support of donors and partners to make what we do happen and we can never have enough of that support.  It allows our medical teams to deploy into remote regions, it helps deliver hygiene items to shelters in the US, it helps keep our Operations Hub filled with emergency aid, and it even helps with disease prevention and training in places like Haiti.  Donations let us expand access to healthcare, help people in crisis and help heal communities.

We don’t want another Katrina to ever happen. But if it does – when the next disaster strikes – we will, we must, be ready to respond.

Katrina refugees in Houston

The Experience in Photos

A month and a half ago Heart to Heart celebrated its 20th Anniversary in awesome fashion with “The Experience”.
Two days later we mobilized to respond to Hurricane Sandy, and as always the case around here, we’ve been very busy with that and everything else that goes on at HHI.
The point? The photos from that wonderful night in late October haven’t been released.  Until now…

We’ve uploaded the best photos – 118 pics! – from The Experience onto HHI’s Flickr page.  Meaning you can view the photos in a slideshow (best viewed with high-speed connection), or scan through them individually.  You can also download the photos that you like in varying sizes.

For those who attended the night, this will take you back and refresh your memories.  For those who couldn’t make it, these photos will give you a glimpse of the evening… a night of Experience, Engagement & Entertainment. And great food!

DW HHI

A Heart for Humanity

It’s a simple statement, but true.  Without our great partners, we couldn’t do what we do here at Heart to Heart International.

FedEx is one of those partners that makes it possible for us to connect people, and especially resources, to a world in need.  That’s why, as we celebrate our 20th Anniversary, we felt FedEx was more than deserving of the Heart for Humanity Award.

You can read more about how FedEx makes a huge humanitarian impact around the world by clicking here, or the article below.

FedEx will receive the award at The Heart to Heart Experience, October 26, 2012.  There are still tickets available for the evening.  We hope you can join us for the celebration.

DW HHI

A Moldova Update…

Want to bring you up to date on Heart to Heart’s anniversary airlift to Moldova, currently underway.
Our medical & non-medical volunteers, along with State Department personnel have been busy: teaching, training, delivering medical aid, traveling the country, meeting with dignitaries and ordinary people. It’s quite a lot to pack into a nine day visit. But our team reports everything is going very well.
Following is an update from HHI’s Dr. Gary Morsch, who is part of the volunteer medical group, along with photos from the trip.

DW HHI

THE BIGGEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED…

We’re now in day five of our nine-day mission. The medical education team is putting on seminars on the topic of hospice and palliative care, with our doctors teaching in medical schools and hospitals, while our nurses are teaching with the Moldovan Nurses Association. We also have a non-medical volunteer team with us, and they have been working on several projects.

I got to see one of their projects yesterday when we visited the town of Lipoveni, where the service team provided sports equipment for the school, and a backpack filled with school supplies, plus a blanket, to every one of the 270 students.

The community put on a big ceremony, with dancing and music performances.The mayor said that this was the biggest thing that had ever happened to their community. They were ecstatic, to say the least!

Over the next few days, we’ll continue our medical education programs, while the service team finishes building a gazebo for hospice patients at a large hospital in town. Friday night the US Ambassador is hosting a dinner at his residence in honor of Heart to Heart.

Everything is going very, very well! It really couldn’t have gone much better… $12 million in meds, a super team of volunteers, and great work being done by the medical education and service teams! Thanks to the home team who came through with a plane load of medicines, and organized this great airlift… perhaps the best project ever!

Dr. Gary Morsch

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A State Visit, Now Let’s Fly…

Recently, Heart to Heart traveled to Washington, D.C. for several events.

First, to see our anniversary airlift fly out of Andrews Air Force Base heading to Moldova.  And second, for a State Department ceremony marking 20 years of the FREEDOM Support Act.

That bit of legislation paved the way for hundreds of airlifts to the countries of the former Soviet Union.  It was signed into law four months after Heart to Heart’s pioneering airlift to Moscow in May of 1992, the airlift that actually birthed Heart to Heart as a non-profit and NGO.

During the past 20 years, Heart to Heart has flown several humanitarian airlifts to various countries in Europe & Asia, working closely with the State Department under grants provided under Operation Provide Hope.

“Operation Provide Hope shows what can be accomplished when relatively modest foreign aid leverages the incredible resources and enthusiasm of U.S. charitable organizations and private companies,” said Daniel Rosenblum, the State Department’s coordinator of U.S. assistance to Europe and Eurasia (on the far left in the photo above).

Read more remarks on the 20th Anniversary of FREEDOM Support Act

As it’s been 20 years, the State Department invited Heart to Heart to attend a commemoration, and provided Heart to Heart founder Dr. Gary Morsch an opportunity to speak on behalf of all NGO’s that have participated in these airlifts.

Not too long after the ceremony ended, it was wheels-up for the anniversary airlift.

This airlift is Heart to Heart’s largest yet under the State Department’s Operation Provide Hope, in terms of value.

Packed onboard an Air Force C-17, medical aid and supplies weighing 18.5 tons and worth $12-Million (U.S. wholesale), took off from Andrews AFB for Moldova, a small country in Eastern Europe.

Accompanying the cargo, state department staffers, and a team of doctors and medical personnel recruited by Heart to Heart who will work with their counterparts in Moldova to distribute medicine and aid, and conduct training.

Read more from the State Department on the Moldova Airlift

The trip to Moldova is still underway… We’ll have photos and more once our Heart to Heart team returns stateside.

DW HHI

The Heart to Heart Experience…

No Ballrooms. No Ball Gowns.

For our 20th Anniversary, Heart to Heart is creating The Experience, an immersion into the world where Heart to Heart works and is making a difference daily in the lives of people in need.

We’re doing things differently.

Instead of hosting a formal gala event (which are always a great time!), this year we’re doing something more.  We’re creating The Heart to Heart Experience.

It’ll be held inside our Global Distribution Center, the hub of our logistics operations, and will be unlike anything we’ve done before, and likely attendees haven’t experienced either.  Attendees will enjoy hands-on, interactive scenarios along with opportunities to network, enjoy some world cuisine, catch up with friends and partners, and provide continuing support for Heart to Heart as we move into the next 20 years of operation.

There will be plenty more information to come…  For now, please check out The Heart to Heart Experience to read more and to purchase your tickets!

We’ll see you there!

DW HHI

Share the LOVE

We want to Share The LOVE with you!  And with everyone who loves music and helping those in need.

The innovative company Soundfreaq has just released the LOVE version of its top-rated Sound Step Recharge, a do-it-all speaker with a radio, Bluetooth and an iPad/iPhone/iPod dock.  And it’s featured in beautiful Heart to Heart red!

And here’s the beauty in this:  For each one sold in Soundfreaq’s online store — $20 goes to Heart to Heart!

We are very excited at Heart to Heart about this new partnership, friendship, with the folks at Soundfreaq.

Everything we’ve seen about Soundfreaq shows them to be innovative, efficient, award-winning… Sounds like some organization we happen to know!

From their Facebook page:  Soundfreaq is a global co-op of craftsmen –- designers and engineers with deep expertise in consumer electronics and a passion for great sound. By working outside the limitations of a traditional corporate structure, we are able to develop products from the ground up that deliver premium sound for a wireless world.

So take some time to Share the LOVE for yourself, for your family and for those who we help in need all across this globe.

DW HHI

It’s Our Birthday! Big Plans Ahead…

You may notice a new look around Heart to Heart… that’s due to our 20th Anniversary icon we’ve unveiled today!

So… what do you think?

We have several events planned around our 20th Anniversary, and there’ll be plenty more info coming down the pike.

First up: Heart to Heart will be part of the Joplin Walk of Unity, Tuesday, May 22, 2012 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of that devastating tornado.

Again, stay tuned for more info about our 20th Anniversary events…

DW HHI