Working Side by Side with Resilience | Louisiana

Brent was on his way back home to secure his personal items as the water was rising. When the Sheriff Department asked if anyone knew the area and could assist with boat rescues, Brent did not hesitate.  Leaving his belongings in his flooding house, he only grabbed 8 life jackets that a neighbor had given him some time ago, and joined boats that rescued a total of 600 to 700 people.  These life jackets were instrumental, he explains, as the currents were so strong that when he got out of the boat to rescue a lady who was stranded on top of her car, the water took a shoe right out of his foot.

Following the floods, Brent, who had been in the construction industry since 1985, helped pressure-wash and sanitize flooded homes in the area.  He did not charge anyone. Sadly, he was infected with MRSA 4 times as a result of germs and pathogens from the floods, landing him in the hospital.  

Brent used to train home builders and inspectors, and was excited to work closely with the volunteers as they helped rebuild his home.  “I was really disheartened.  And then you guys came and lifted my spirits and I appreciate that”, he says.



All Hands Volunteers remains in Louisiana,  repairing and bringing damaged households, institutions, and daycare centers back to full recovery in collaboration with long-term recovery partners to help. Hundreds of volunteers are still urgently needed to lend their hands to these rebuild efforts. For further information, go to or apply to volunteer

Something We Can Do

I returned to All Hands Volunteers after working in Bogalusa, LA as an AmeriCorps NCCC member during the 2016 flood response. I had been mucking and gutting homes, as well as performing sanitations, when I was offered the opportunity to learn how to conduct assessments. This was the first time I was able to interact closely with homeowners.

One morning, we received a call about a flooded mobile-home park, where an elderly couple hadn’t received any help. We drove to where the couple lived and found their home had been flooded with at least 4 feet of water. The husband was suffering from severe health issues and when the door was opened, the stench of mold was overwhelming. They didn’t have electricity, running water or an alternative place to live; this was at least 2 months after the flooding had happened.

Due to health issues, the husband was unemployed and required a day-nurse.  The nurse warned the couple that if they continued living in their house another month, he wouldn’t make it through the summer.

This really struck me.  I could see how easily that could have been one of my loved ones. It showed me how easily people fall through the cracks and ignited a fire within me to create change.

I was truly inspired by Brandon, one of the staff members. Although All Hands Volunteers couldn’t do anything to save the mobile home, Brandon made phone calls to anybody that could potentially help. He was determined to find a solution and by the following day had identified a new trailer for the couple.

This was a truly moving moment for me. I was so desperate to help those people and to see how hard Brandon worked to try find a solution, made me realize there is always something we can do to help.

Having had this realization, we visited an elderly woman who hadn’t received any assistance. As soon as we entered the home we could see and smell mold. The owner told us there was one room which was particularly bad and when she opened the door there, mold hung from the ceiling. She didn’t know how bad her living conditions were and the effects this mold could have on her health. As we explained the dangers of her living there and what we could do to help, she immediately started crying, saying she wouldn’t be able to pay us.

That moment gave me chills because she was so distraught thinking she had to give something to us; being able to tell her that we didn’t want any of her money and just wanted to help her was such a humbling experience.  It reinforced why I want to continue this work.

From Son to Father

We are told you are never too old to learn, but for most of us it is a parent who teaches their child, the old hopefully passing on wisdom to those younger and less experienced than themselves. For me however the roles have reversed.

In late 2014 my younger son, Dom Bryant gave up his career as a journalist to volunteer with AHV in Tacloban, Philippines, rebuilding after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan the previous year. He had heard about All Hands from a friend who themselves had volunteered. Dom went for three months, and stayed for nearly a year such was the positive impact of the work being done on both the local population and the volunteers themselves. He returned briefly in November 2015, before moving to Berlin with fellow volunteer Evelyn Maria Kallas They both worked hard and almost a year later headed to Nepal to volunteer with All Hands again following the earthquakes of April 2015, this time staying six months to see the end of the Bachchhala school project completed.

As any father might do I researched AHV when Dom first spoke about volunteering and learnt more from his experiences once in the Philippines. Linked with his comments, I was impressed by an organisation that seeks to harness goodwill not just into financial contributions but by enabling individuals to use their time and labour for the benefit of others less fortunate. I went to Tacloban for a few days in 2015 and saw for myself the combined efforts of volunteers and the local community. I even gave a limited hand on one site. What was being delivered in Tacloban was inspiring and positively changing lives.

Back home, still working I did what I could do to support both my son and AHV through contributions. I spoke to anyone who would listen, and still do about this organisation that responds to natural disasters throughout the world. In 2017, I ventured to Nepal to see Dom and Evelyn, and spent a few days working with All Hands on two new school buildings where I again met individuals from all parts the world united by a common purpose – ‘good people, doing good things’ as I am fond of saying.

A father naturally has pride in a son’s achievements. For me however, this pride is not about material gain or a position of authority achieved, it is the content I feel inside for what All Hands has enabled my son to demonstrate. He always had empathy, he always cared about others. He has now had the opportunity to demonstrate this in a practical way with his hands and his heart, and this life changing process has impacted on me as well as him.

All Hands Volunteers speaks of rebuilding hope. For me it has helped build a son into a good man, and it has given me hope that I can use my remaining years to help others.

Ian Bryant

Full Circle

Check out this inspiring #ShareTheGood message from Sabine Thompson in Montaigu France!

“People helped my family when I was younger, and I’m now in a position to help others. Life comes full circle. Like many, I’ve experienced hardship and painful episodes of loss over the years, but volunteering has always put things in perspective for me. Such is the beauty of giving: the realization that in the end, the intangibles one receives go way beyond what one gives.” – Sabine Thompson
Read her full story here and #ShareTheGood.

Like many of the people I now support when I volunteer, I come from humble beginnings.  From early childhood to my late teens, my limited wardrobe consisted of either donations from charities or clothes that my mother, who had left her home country of Vietnam during the war, would sew for me.  I learned very early on to find joy in the simple things in life and have always believed, maybe naively so, that people are intrinsically good.

It is those humble beginnings that paved the way for my passion for volunteering.  People have helped me and my family when I was younger, and I am now in a position to help others.  Life comes full circle.  Like many, I’ve experienced hardship and painful episodes of loss over the years, but volunteering has always put things in perspective for me.  Such is the beauty of giving: the realization that in the end, the intangibles one receives go way beyond what one gives.

I never had the flexibility to take a year off to travel or to join projects for months on end like some of my fellow volunteers.  I had to start working as soon as I graduated from school, but I held on to the idea of giving back, and when there is a will there is a way!  I recently celebrated 20 years of volunteering activities around the world, from orphanage visits to tutoring of underprivileged children, disaster relief, or work in slum areas and refugee camps.

While helping out in Japan after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster of March 2011, a friend told me about an organization called All Hands Volunteers.  I bookmarked the website.  When they launched their response to Superstorm Sandy I expressed my interest and soon received an e-mail welcoming me to Project Long Island.  I first joined the project in March 2013 and volunteered with All Hands in New York on a total of nine different occasions that year alone.

The camaraderie with fellow volunteers coming from all walks of life but with a similar desire to help was instant and infectious.  Logistics were made easy, allowing me to focus my limited time off work on helping rather than untangling administrative details.  I had no technical knowledge but the projects were structured and I was provided with the guidance, safety measures, procedures and tools I needed.  I witnessed first-hand the long-term impact of All Hands Volunteers’ work as several disaster response projects I joined turned into rebuild activities – in New York specifically, I was given a chance to further the response work I had started in early 2013 and help rebuild homes affected by Superstorm Sandy in Long Island in late 2013, Staten Island in 2014 and Brooklyn in 2015.

It has been four years since my first AHV project. All Hands Volunteers has made it possible for me to volunteer around the world on 18 different projects to address the needs of areas struck by tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, typhoons and earthquakes.   I’ve learned a lot, made lifetime friends, and still receive occasional updates from survivors I’ve assisted.

I do not have the energy of a 20-year-old; I do not have much free time beyond weekends and vacation days; I do not have the technical know-how of a construction worker or any specialized skills outside of my office desk work; I do not have big muscles; but I have heart and a strong desire to help, and All Hands Volunteers determined that it was good enough.  I am thankful.



Story of Advocates Jeff Smith (68) and Fran Jocelyn (71) – Reisterstown, MD, USA

We found out about All Hands Volunteers through our niece, Aubrie Hornung, who was volunteering in Leogane, Haiti, after the 2010 earthquake. She had been there for several months and wanted someone from our family to come down and spend some time with her and see what she was up to. We don’t mind roughing it and enjoy hard work and volunteering. So we were the likely candidates.

We have a seasonal business and are free to travel in January every year. So that year, the 1 year anniversary of the earthquake, we were off to Haiti. After a few airplane rides, we met Aubrie at the airport and took off on a dizzying zig zag motorcycle ride through Port-au-Prince. A little hairy on the curves and hills as we were burdened with heavy backpacks full of work clothes and tools. A few bouncy bus rides and hours later we were greeted at the All Hands compound by smiling faces and big hugs and quickly became known as Aubrie’s Aunt and Uncle. That was the start of our relationship with All Hands Volunteers.

Upon arriving home from that trip we were asked by our 6 year old granddaughter’s teacher to do a slide show presentation for Jaden and her classmates. They were planning a fundraiser and chose to donate the money to All Hands. The kids made friendship pins (a safety pin filled with colourful beads) and sold them for a quarter each. Donning one of our Leogane All Hands t-shirts, Jaden worked the sales table along with her classmates. Prior to that the students had made posters and put them up in the school announcing the upcoming sale. They sent home flyers with all of the elementary school students so the parents would know why all of the kids needed to bring their quarters to school. At the end of the day, they had raised $475. That’s 1,900 friendship pins!

We explained to Jaden and her classmates how our matching funds would double their fundraising efforts to build new desks for the new schools that All Hands Volunteers were building in Haiti. Following up on that theme, the students filled pencil holder bags with pens, pencils, erasers, etc, and we had them taken to Leogane by another volunteer who was headed there a few weeks later.

It was after our experience in Haiti that we began to donate to All Hands on a monthly basis. It is a very modest amount since we are spread a little thin. But knowing that we are helping in a small way each month is rewarding in itself and a constant reminder of people around the world who are in dire need of help, especially after a disaster.

We also did another fundraiser online for All Hands, tapping into our friends and family, raising about $1,500 prior to volunteering in the Philippines in January 2016. Seeing the funds go into the materials for the schools being built there was very rewarding and fulfilling.

Copy of img_0610-8Each time we volunteer we come away with an added appreciation for all of the things we take for granted in our everyday lives. Our hearts fill up with the love expressed by the people from the communities we have worked in. We are rewarded in so many ways, especially knowing that perhaps we have made someone else’s life a little better. The smiling faces of the kids whose schools we have worked on are etched in our minds forever.

We will continue to donate to All Hands Volunteers so that we can always be a small part of the wonderful work that the staff and volunteers do in helping those in need all over the world. We look forward to when we can volunteer again and spend time working with the younger volunteers who have so much energy and commitment to the cause. They keep us feeling young! The amazing dedication of the All Hands staff at the worksites and in the office is truly inspiring and makes them a pleasure to work with. We’re in for life!

Jeff & Fran_Class and Teacher

From the Ashes of Disaster – Trinity Rose

Trinity Rose is a 36 year old woman who has lived in Louisiana her whole life.


Since her parents died, Trinity has pretty much kept to herself, running an eBay store and dog kennel from her mobile home. But when the floods hit Denham Springs last August, everything changed. She was sitting in her house with her boyfriend Randy when the river near her home crested, letting raging rapids loose on her home. As Trinity looked around, she remembers praying that the water would stop rising but watched helplessly as it rose higher and higher.

Trinity also remembers realizing that the water was not going to stop and recalls how suddenly her prayers changed. She was overcome by a moment of incredible peace amidst the chaos, an almost palpable assurance that this was supposed to happen and that all was going to be OK.

The following moments were a blur of commotion as Randy diverted Trinity’s attention back to the immediate danger and they set about trying to flag a rescue boat. Trinity recalls trying to reach her backyard to save her dogs but that by stopping her, Randy’s quick thinking actually saved her life.

Climbing onto the roof, they were finally able to get hold of a rescue boat. As they climbed on and the boat pulled away, Trinity held on to her door knob with all her might, desperate to prevent her beloved possessions from floating away. Amidst the chaos of that one moment, that was all that really mattered – that her lifelong memories should still be in the house on her return, whatever their condition. As the boat pulled away, she held on to that door as if her life depended on it, and with Randy holding on to her, finally the door closed.

With nowhere else to go and no family to fall back on, Trinity spent the next five months living in a tent in front of her ruined home.  She had no insurance and was denied assistance by FEMA. Her car was ruined in the floods so she had no form of transportation. Worse still, people from other less impacted neighborhoods kept driving by her property and slowing down as they saw people were living in a tent.  Trinity felt like she was on display and found herself feeling bitter, scared and worst of all, completely forgotten by the world.

Then one day, she heard about All Hands Volunteers.  Trinity admits to being a little skeptical at first – who turns up for free, with no strings attached, to throw themselves into the task of gutting a stranger’s flood infested house? It sounded far too good to be true.


But when the team arrived, something changed for Trinity.  She describes it like this:

“I was experiencing a depression that I don’t even have the words to describe. I would just sit there in my front yard looking at my house and there was no hope. I’d already exhausted avenues that I thought would offer assistance.  I don’t have family. I don’t have anything. But when a group shows up and shows they care about you. That was the amazing thing that changed everything.”

“All Hands people are like shining diamonds. And they come together for the common purpose…it’s the sheer magic of it that is amazing to me.  You can’t buy that in life. And without having this horrible tragedy, I never would have been able to experience that.”

Trinity so beautifully articulates a common theme that we hear again and again across disasters of every kind in every corner of the world. It’s a perspective that seems only accessible to those who find themselves in the midst of extreme suffering. Time and time again, we see people who have lost everything speaking simultaneously of the heartache and pain of loss and a keen awareness of the “tender mercies” they experienced at the hands of generous neighbors, family, friends and the world at large.

As Trinity describes it, “to have your entire existence shaken up changes your perspective in a way that would not be possible outside of a tragedy. Tragedies have gifts that they give people if you’re only open enough to receive them.  The flood took everything I had. But I’m a better person now than I ever was before the flood.”

To us who show up with shovels and gloves, the powerful energy of people like Trinity who somehow manage to see joy and blessings even as they stand in the ashes of their lives sparks something new in us too. I think it’s called Hope.  Hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Hope that our own hardships are not as bad as they seem. And Hope that maybe, just maybe, there’s a whole lot more Good in the world than we thought.




Your Part in #EveryChild Matters

As disasters and conflicts of all kinds seem to be swirling around us now more than ever, we feel that we have been wrapped in a warm blanket of love and support that has come not from your wallets, but from your hearts. As such, we wanted to do more today than just post a message of thanks. We wanted to share with you some of the good that you have shared with us.

Here are just a few of the reasons:

Andrew Brown: “I’m 10 years old and at the end of the year I donate some of my savings to a charity. I hope this helps someone.”

Mimi Hancock: “My son, John, was a volunteer with you several years ago, helping to coordinate relief efforts in Haiti in 2008. He has remained committed to your work, its power, reach and kindness. We applaud and thank you for all you do selflessly to help others in need here at home and around the world. In this divisive time in our country, it is especially inspiring to see you unite us with others through true care, help, and hard work THANK YOU!”

Sherri Seaman: “You give hope and inspiration to children everywhere, you should be very proud!”

Rebecca Bromark: “In memory of my grandmother, who had the biggest heart and who loved all people so much. I hope your organization can keep making lives better for more children, their grandparents and their families, around the globe.”

Greg Lande: “To help those less fortunate!”

Wilfred Yenko: “Thank you All Hands for reviving hope and joy to communities around the world.”

Jack Ferrebee: “Thank you David for your endless generosity!”

Sue Patterson: “I had a profoundly moving and meaningful experience volunteering for a week in October with All Hands in Baton Rouge, LA. I am very impressed with the dedication of the All Hands staff and volunteers, and with the simplicity of the All Hands organization-the singular focus. I believe in you!”

Teresa Regan: “We all need to start taking better care of one another. Everyone deserves hope.”

Marinel Valentini: “Thank you AHV for transforming into reality children’s dreams of living and studying in safe environments.”

Karen and David Mount: “I was fortunate enough to get an inside glimpse of All Hands when I volunteered after the Moore, OK tornado devastation. It is a very well run organization that reaches out to help those in need…both near and far…That is what our country is truly about.”

Curty Croisetiere: “Great cause! Great people! Great country!”

Joseph Dragone: “I am blessed with a great family and want to share my good fortune with others.”

Hillary Morton: “If you have it to give then it is only right to pay it forward.”

JJ Hepp: “#EveryChild matters!”

Jan and Beez Hazen: “There’s no better Team!  We know this because we’ve worked with Hands in the US and abroad.  Thanks, David, for your vision, leadership and continued contributions.”

With that, we add our voice to yours. Here’s to more light in the world, more help for the helpless, more light in the dark, and more hope for us all.

~ Erik Dyson


You did it. Once again,  you came through for us and those we serve, breaking the seemingly impossible $100,000 glass ceiling on Giving Tuesday with an amazing $102,322 in donations. This puts us at a grand total of $152,322 with David Campbell’s generous match. We are humbled and proud to know you and call you our friends. THANK YOU!