Community resilience | Emergency and disaster relief
Disasters, both natural and human-made, can affect anyone anywhere and some communities are better positioned to prepare, adapt and respond. In 2021, Providence focused on delivering support to vulnerable communities in the wake of disasters by improving access to the tools and support that enabled quicker recoveries. This support focused on community capacity building and empowerment of the people directly affected by these disasters.
Building community capacity for disaster relief efforts
In addition to partnering with community organizations abroad, Providence contributed to disaster recovery in the U.S. to provide immediate relief and invest in long-term recovery.
After Hurricane Ida, the St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund issued grants to help community members in the immediate term, and to lay the groundwork for rebuilding infrastructure.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida along the U.S. Gulf Coast, the St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund issued grants to support on-the-ground coordination of relief and medical care between hospitals, public response entities and volunteers working on urgent community needs.
These funds helped community members in the immediate term, while also helping to lay the groundwork for rebuilding infrastructure. The network of funders, community members and nonprofits that Providence convened served as a local coalition focused on long-term recovery planning. With the financial support of these partners, community organizations and residents are empowered to lead rebuilding and planning efforts.
In August 2021, families in Afghanistan faced a new and terrifying reality when the Taliban took over governance of their country. Many families made the difficult decision to flee and seek refuge elsewhere, leaving everything behind and starting over in a new land.
Understanding the challenges of being in a new country where you might not speak the primary language or have access to resources or a supportive community, Providence Integrated Community Investment stepped in to provide essential support for Afghan refugees. Through partnerships established by community health investment and funding from them, Providence was able to invest in community groups directly supporting refugees in several regions.
In the fall of 2021, the St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund provided $300,000 to World Relief and Catholic Charities USA to support resettlement and meet other needs of Afghan refugees in the U.S.
Part of the investment also went to other organizations across the country to provide a wide range of needs for Afghan refugees, including legal support, access to housing, education, and other basic living needs.
For example, in California, Access California Services helps Afghan refugees with financial assistance, employment search and English language learning. In Oregon, Catholic Charities of Oregon is providing resettlement, case management, as well as legal services for refugees entering the state as “humanitarian parolees,” a status that allows people to enter the country legally and quickly. In Montana, Soft Landing Missoula connects Afghan refugees with the community, training and other supportive services as they get acclimated to their new homes.
In Washington, the Refugee Artisan Initiative trains refugee and immigrant women in artisan skills and micro-business development. Recently, six women in the RAI program learned how to measure, add detail and create sets of medical scrubs for caregivers at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. This provided skills-building, job training and the opportunity to earn a living wage. In the Spokane area, World Relief Spokane welcomes new arrivals by helping them secure housing, get supplies and enroll children in school. They partner with local churches and volunteers to gather furniture, clothing and other basic needs so the families are supported through this challenging transition.
In the midst of the second wave of the pandemic and the rapid development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in May 2021, Providence stepped up to support global communities hit hardest by the virus. Providence implemented several special initiatives to help meet the needs of caregivers at our global center in Hyderabad, India, along with local hospitals and nonprofits.
Communities in India, like many other parts of the world, faced severe staffing and supply shortages throughout the pandemic. Providence mobilized and distributed funds to organizations at the community level that helped provide greatly needed vaccines and supplies.
In May 2021, Providence mobilized to provide vaccines and supplies to communities in Hyderabad, India, that were hit very hard by a COVID-19 wave. The St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund contributed $150,000, and compassionate caregivers collectively donated $26,080, which was matched by Providence.
Providence partner, Denali, committed $100,000. Along with financial support, Providence distributed 10,000 N95 masks as well as oxygen concentrators, medical equipment, ventilators and emergency assistance for critical patients.
Several local hospitals and organizations welcomed the support, including St. Joseph Hospital in Nagpur, a COVID care hospital set up by United Way in Hitech City, Hyderabad, and the Telangana State Police Department.
Providence was later recognized by the local municipality for these efforts and continues to provide support to our caregivers in India.
Disaster relief is often seen as a one-time effort, and in many instances, communities are left to deal with the aftermath without financial or operational support. Providence recognizes that communities know what is best for them, and in 2021, focused on efforts that empowered local residents and created long-term infrastructure to better respond to and prepare for future disasters.