Lionsgate Founder's Foundation Donates $400,000 for Puerto Rico Disaster Relief
The donation allows relief organization All Hands and Hearts — Smart Response to begin a multiyear rebuilding project in areas hit hard by Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
All Hands and Hearts — Smart Response, the international relief organization led by supermodel Petra Nemcova, its founder and vice chair, announced it will be entering Puerto Rico to begin a multiyear rebuilding project thanks in large part to a $400,000 donation from Lionsgate founder Frank Giustra's Radcliffe Foundation.
On Wednesday, Nemcova and Giustra visited Puerto Rico, surveying the devastation from Hurricanes Maria and Irma and establishing a plan to begin work. The international disaster relief organization has initially committed to working in the area through at least 2019.
"We are so thankful for Frank Giustra's caring heart and support from his Radcliffe Foundation," said Nemcova. "Together we will be able to help the families in Puerto Rico affected by the recent devastating hurricanes. Frank has been a vital partner over the years, supporting projects around the world, and his commitment to help others has uplifted the lives of many families. During our recent visit to Puerto Rico, we were touched by the families we met as they are all so strong and resilient despite the deep hardships they are facing."
The model is no stranger to persevering after a natural disaster: She survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed her fiance while they were vacationing in Thailand.
The two communities of initial focus will be around the towns of Yabucoa, in the eastern part of Puerto Rico, and Barranquitas, a central municipality, with roughly 150 to 200 volunteers helping to complete key rebuilding efforts. The priority will be roof tarping, as a significant number of homes are currently exposed and tarping will prevent future damage from occurring while safeguarding families from the elements. In December, All Hands and Hearts CEO Erik Dyson stressed to The Hollywood Reporter the importance of volunteers working on the “muck and gut” first phase of rebuilding in order to safely restore communities. That includes clearing homes of debris, tree removal, repairing damaged roofs and critical black-mold sanitation, which if left untreated will cause long-term health issues.
"It's physical hard labor right now, but then in the spring or summer we'll start the rebuilding of homes and schools," Dyson explained. Once the initial disaster response phase is completed, the group will turn its attention to the repair of single-family homes and other community infrastructure. Many community members have been waiting for help since September or October.
"I have no doubt All Hands and Hearts will make a major contribution in helping the families of Puerto Rico rebuild their lives after the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria," said Radcliffe Foundation CEO Giustra. "I have met many of these volunteers, who come from around the world for weeks, even months, at a time to assist families and children in need. They work six days a week, up to 11 hours a day, in any conditions, to make a difference. At a time when we are bombarded with negative news, their compassion is an inspiration. The Radcliffe Foundation is honored to support their humanitarian work."