Plenty was founded in 1974 to channel aid and support to families and communities affected by natural disasters, and we have provided disaster relief in many countries, both in the U.S. and abroad since then.
Current Activities 2020-21
* Food and relief aid in response to Hurricanes ETA and IOTA in Central America, November 2020:
- In Nicaragua we provided $500 for emergency food to 30 Miskito families in the city of Bilwi, Puerto Cabezas, distributed by the Parroquia de San Pedro Apostal.
- In Guatemala we provided $1000 to American Friends Service Committee to support their efforts to distribute food, warm clothing, and hygiene supplies to shelters in the Department of Alta Verapaz in northeast Guatemala, one of the most affected areas.
* COVID-19 related support has been provided in Guatemala, Belize, Haiti, Puerto Rico, So. Dakota, and Tennessee. Update to come!
Plenty’s Relief and Recovery efforts – a chronological summary
Puerto Rico Earthquake (2017-18)
Initial efforts in 2017 included distributing water purification kits and small solar lights in some of the hardest hit areas of the central mountains by two volunteers of AidElevated, a group fiscally sponsored by Plenty. Six portable solar powered high-volume community water filtering units were also sent to Puerto Rico in 2018.
Nepal Earthquake Relief and Recovery (2015 – present)
Plenty fiscally sponsors two relief and rebuilding projects in Nepal, directed and carried out by skilled and dedicated volunteer staff.
Immediately after the earthquake in April 2015, this relief and rebuilding effort headed by former Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal, John Vavruska, went into gear – providing food and temporary shelters for the people of Chupar. Further efforts from 2016 to 2019 included rebuilding homes and a new school, built with local labor using traditional methods and Gabon banding for earthquake stability, providing Envirofit cookstoves and more. Continued work in this village will likely be undertaken after the pandemic subsides.
Here are excerpts from the first letter appeal for this village in 2015:
“As you know, Nepal has suffered a terrible earthquake – in fact two earthquakes, one on April 25 and the second on May 12th. Our son Vajra was in Kathmandu, where he was born, for both quakes and witnessed some of the terrible destruction and loss of life in the Durbar square of Kathmandu where he has an apartment, thankfully in a modern, earthquake-resistant house. Like many people, we immediately responded to the earthquake by giving donations to various institutions dedicated to disaster relief. It soon became apparent that much of the most immediate and elective relief work was being done by small groups of Nepalis and expat foreigners who were supplying relief to communities they knew and had a connection with.
One friend in Santa Fe, John Vavruska, set up a mini relief project for the village of Chupar, ancestral home of other mutual Nepali friends in Santa Fe, Uttam and Budu Rai, funneling donations through a small non-profit: Plenty International http://plenty.org/news/ His effort has inspired us. Just after the first quake, Vajra visited Halcok, the village where we lived for over ten years in the 1980s and 1990s. While he was happy to report that his best friend in Nepal, Sukri Putwar, and his family were safe, there had been widespread destruction of the poorer houses of the village. Vajra wrote us on April 28, “I went up to see Sukri at the village. 56 houses collapsed (out of maybe 100?). All the old houses, gone. It’s as if an entire memory has been erased. Sukri incredibly lucky to be alive. Made me realize that the real destruction in Nepal must be up in the little mountain villages, in the stone houses.”
We decided that we wanted to help, and with the eager participation of the Nepali staff in the office we work with in Nepal, we were able to send up a shipment of food and essential supplies to the homeless villagers encamped below the ruins. We are now planning to provide supplies for more substantial temporary housing, food, sanitation and other priorities.
Please consider adopting Halcok and helping “one village at a time” survive now and rebuild in the future. Thank you. Ian, Lois, Vajra, and Vasundhara Alsop”
Update from Lois & Ian Alsop, July 1, 2018
We are in the final stages of our building phase and nearing the end of our project.
We have completed a total of four new houses after the initial post-earthquake stage of providing food, medicine and temporary shelter to the people of Halchok village.
Following that construction project, we became involved with a local company, Metalwood, which is at the forefront of a new, earthquake-resistant type of metal frame construction which we decided would suit the needs of the village and could be done with village labor and their designs. Three houses have already been built by Metalwood and the villagers in addition to the first model house in the video.
We are now building houses #5 and #6. As always in Nepal there have been delays in proceeding with plans but we are very satisfied with the first three Metalwood houses which were built between 2017 and 2018. The villagers are all engaged in the demolishing, clearing of the site, and basic leveling and porter work. Here is a link to a page on the Metalwood site showing their work in the design and construction of the first house they built for Halchok.
After the completion of these last two houses we will not be actively fund raising. Thank you to Plenty for your generous help in making this a reality.
Lois and Ian”
Super Typhoon Haiyan – the Philippines (2013)
Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November 2013 with brutal force. International relief efforts were massive. Plenty was asked to help the village of Alta Vista on the island of Leyte, home to about 1,500 people. Every house in the area lost their roof and/or sustained other damage. Alta Vista Elementary School, with 280 k-6th grade students, lost its roof, desks, books and supplies. Plenty provided funds to repair the school and replace books and student supplies.
Gulf Coast (2008 and ongoing)
Louisiana’s Gulf Coast communities are vulnerable to frequent storms and hurricanes and have no protective levee system.
The BP oil disaster in the spring of 2010 added a devastating blow to the Gulf’s environment and the traditional fishing and shrimping livelihoods of its coastal people.
In Terrebonne Parish, working with Tribal leaders, Plenty provided emergency distributions of food and clothing to some of the most impacted Biloxi-Chitimacha families.
Since 2008, thanks to the efforts of Plenty volunteer Elaine Langley and friends, the annual “Bayou Christmas” has provided toys, books, groceries and other aid to over 100 families.
Replacement beds and mattresses were provided for 16 families after Hurricane Isaac in August 2012, funded by the Philip R. Jonsson Foundation.
Plenty has assisted the Pointe-au-Chene Biloxi-Chitimacha tribe to complete a raised community center that also serves as a tribal office and hurricane shelter, and house a library and computer lab. The center was completed in 2014.
Supporting the people of the Gulf since Katrina enables us to witness longer-term impacts to the health and wellbeing of these highly vulnerable coastal communities.
Haiti earthquake (January 12, 2010)
When Haiti’s overcrowded capital collapsed into a deadly avalanche of rubble in the massive quake, Haiti was already the most impoverished country in the western hemisphere with 70% unemployment and an infant mortality rate of 60 per thousand births, ten times greater than the US rate.
Plenty assistance to Haiti from 2010-13 has largely focused on health and medical needs:
- Medicines and supplies for the immediate relief effort, and ongoing to the ADHD clinic in La Vallee; water purification tablets to Le Mabouya, a Haitian environmental NGO in Cayes-Jacmel, (southeast Haiti); and to a clinic in Cape Haitian (central plateau), run by the Haitian NGO Sante Total – $7,000
- Ten heavy-duty wheelchairs designed for rural use by Whirlwind Wheelchairs – $2200
- Support for clinical volunteers, and teaching workshops for Haitian midwives on Home Based Life Saving Skills – simple interventions that save mother and infant lives – $1,800
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: (August/September 2005)
Together, these Gulf Coast hurricanes constituted the most devastating natural disaster to hit the U.S. in its history.
Times of great tragedy often generate great compassion, and this disaster was no exception. The world witnessed an unprecedented outpouring of caring and mobilization in response. We are very grateful for the many generous people who channeled their time, talents and funds through Plenty to help.
Multiple runs of volunteers and supplies were organized from our home base in Tennessee to assist hurricane victims in Louisiana and Mississippi in building repair, supply distribution, medical care, mold abatement, needs assessment, and more.
Other supply and volunteer runs were mobilized from Tennessee, Texas, and Florida. Volunteers came from as far as New York, California, and Oregon.
Food, water, medical supplies, blankets, heaters, clothing, batteries, cleaning and other supplies were purchased and distributed thanks to donations raised from individuals and community fundraisers.
Katrina relief work also led to the creation of Plenty’s ongoing program, Books To Kids.
Hurricane Stan: (October 2005) Guatemala
Torrential rains caused deadly mudslides around Lake Atitlan in the department of Solola, which killed at least 600 people and displaced thousands in the traditional Mayan communities of this area. Plenty provided $8,700 for emergency and longer term food relief, which was coordinated through Plenty’s Central American Food Security program partner Asociacion De Desarollo Integral Belen (ADIBE) and their soy foods processing facility, which is located near the affected area.
Tsunami: (December 2004) India and Sri Lanka
On December 26, 2004, a devastating tsunami struck 1,356 miles of Indian coastline, destroying or seriously damaging 883 villages and affecting 1.2 million people. Over 10,000 people died in mainland India. We were asked by a trusted colleague working in India to support a project to assist pregnant women and children. $2,870 was utilized for playgrounds for children in two villages (Chinoor and Velangiriyan Pettai), as a way to help them in their trauma recovery. The remaining $5,577 supported a project to provide pre- and post-natal care, nutritional food and vitamin supplements, vaccinations, psychological counseling, and special needs assistance to 276 pregnant women and 391 nursing mothers living in 25 villages that were devastated by the tsunami.
Hurricane Iris: (October 2001) Belize
This category 5 hurricane swept through southern Belize in October 2001, destroying homes, crops, and rainforest. Plenty Belize staff and volunteers set up outdoor emergency kitchens in 5 villages, where residents and the Plenty crew produced and distributed over 1000 lbs. of high protein dry cereal and drink mixes and coordinated other aid delivery in the area. Funds raised also purchased tools and seeds to enable 275 farming families to begin replanting. We assisted our longterm friends the Toledo Cacao Growers Association to set up 4 village tree nurseries with drip irrigation by solar water pumps. About $17,000 was raised for these efforts from individuals and small grants.
Hurricane Mitch: (November 1999) Nicaragua
Plenty raised $5,726 through individuals and two small grants for Hurricane Mitch relief. Plenty built 2 houses and repaired three others, installed two neighborhood water wells, and supported a local woman’s group MUPROVI (Women Producing for Life) in the town of San Juan de Limay, by donating food and supplies for their temporary Olla Comunal (community kitchen). The community kitchen served approximately 80 kids one meal a day, 5 or 6 days a week for several months. Two Plenty representatives drove a load of medical supplies and house wares from Texas to Nicaragua, and donated their four wheel drive Toyota truck to help move supplies to families who lost homes and more in the hurricane. They also worked with MUPROVI to replant trees and re-establish vegetable gardens in the year following Mitch.
Guatemalan earthquake: (February 1976)
Two years after Plenty’s founding, we began our international work by responding to a massive earthquake that struck the Guatemalan highlands, killing over 23,000 people. Early relief efforts involved volunteer carpenter crews from the Farm Community who began rebuilding the town of San Andreas Itzapa and outlying rural communities. Deep underlying conditions of poverty and social inequality were revealed through this work, and seeing an opportunity to provide longer term assistance, the Farm Community, through Plenty sent more volunteers with health care, farming, communication and related skills. Initial relief efforts evolved into a multi-year program involving hundreds of volunteers, partly funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). 1200 homes, 12 schools and several clinics were rebuilt, a radio station established, agriculture and nutrition projects, health care training, and a free clinic provided services, and orphaned and malnourished children were cared for by Plenty volunteers.
Tornadoes in southern US: (1975-76)
In Plenty’s earliest years, we helped our neighbors in times of need, responding to local disasters by collecting and transporting truckloads of food, blankets, and clothing from Plenty headquarters at the Farm Community in middle Tennessee to tornado and flood victims in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.