STRENGTHENING COMMUNITIES IN TIMES OF CRISIS
In 2017, an unprecedented hurricane season wreaked havoc on communities, leaving thousands of at-risk seniors without essential services.
Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of southern Texas In late August. Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Irma caused extensive destruction across the Caribbean, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida. An equally catastrophic storm, Maria, followed shortly after, affecting many of the same Caribbean islands — with Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands hit especially hard.
For vulnerable older adults, a natural disaster compounds the struggles they already experience. In the wake of these storms, AARP Foundation quickly launched three separate relief campaigns that raised more than $5.636 million from donors like you — AARP members, staff and the public (including matching funds from AARP, AARP Foundation and the Miami Dolphins). Working closely with our field offices in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with relief organizations in the Caribbean, we identified and provided grants to community-based groups whose focus is on helping vulnerable older adults. Those grants, made possible by your support, are now providing on-the-ground relief to people in areas pummeled by the relentless storms.
LANDFALL: August 17, 2017 | DAMAGE: $125 Billion
Imagine being one of the many who lost their home to Hurricane Harvey. Now imagine getting it back — not just restored, but better than it was before the storm. For Houstonians whose houses were made unlivable by Hurricane Harvey, that’s exactly what’s happening.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August 2017 and quickly became one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history. An estimated 300,000 structures were damaged or destroyed in Texas alone.
But today, supported by a grant from AARP Foundation’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund — a fund comprising of $3.3 million ($1.8 million in gifts from generous donors, and a $1.5 million match from AARP and AARP Foundation) — a Houston organization is providing eligible homeowners with critical repairs. In addition to roofing, electrical and plumbing repairs, the homeowners are getting something extra: upgrades that will make it easier for them to stay in their homes as they age. Despite the stressful circumstances, homes are being restored with dignity thanks to you.
- Baker Ripley
- Boat People SOS
- Bread of Life
- Chinese Community Center
- Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston
- Greater Houston Community Foundation Harvey Relief Fund
- Hope Clinic
- Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston/Meals on Wheels
- Legal Aid of Northwest Texas
- Lone Star Legal Aid
- OCA Houston
- Rebuilding Together Houston
- SBP USA
- Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission
- Texas Access to Justice Foundation Hurricane Harvey Legal Relief Fund
- Texas Association of Community Action Agencies
- Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
- The Houston Food Bank
- The Montrose Community Center
- YWCA Houston
“Thanks to the generosity of AARP Foundation, Rebuilding Together Houston was able to confidently launch our ‘Home After Harvey’ initiative. The grant forms the cornerstone of a program that combines our volunteer reach and long-standing expertise to help our elderly Houston neighbors, who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey, back into homes that are livable once again”.
— Christine Holland, CEO and Executive Director, Rebuilding Together Houston
LOU’S HAPPY TRAIL(ER)
In 2017, with money from her savings and a loan from a friend, Louise R. (known as “Lou”) bought the trailer home of her dreams in Aransas Pass, Texas. Less than three months later, the town took a direct hit from Hurricane Harvey, forcing Lou — the 68-year-old widow of a U.S. veteran — to evacuate inland. When she returned on August 28 — her birthday — her dream home had no roof, no electricity, no running water, and mold and mildew throughout. Lou stayed there for nine days, crawling in and out through a broken window, until local law enforcement made her leave for her own safety.
It wasn’t the first time a natural disaster had displaced her. Lou and her husband had been the only survivors of a tornado strike on their Florida trailer park. Now, facing another catastrophe, she felt helpless. There was no money left, and she still had to pay for the trailer lot while also reimbursing the friend who had loaned her money for the trailer. Three times, she applied for — and was denied — FEMA assistance. Finally, at a friend’s suggestion, Lou went to an event hosted by Community Action Corporation of South Texas (CACOST) to see if she could qualify for any assistance. CACOST —a sub-grantee of Texas Association of Community Action Agencies (TACAA) — provided her with immediate aid in the form of gift cards, but Lou still needed a home.
In January 2018 Lou received a brand-new RV Travel Trailer and a perfect location for her new home: Howdy Ranch RV Park in Mathis, Texas, which agreed to a low monthly fee for Lou (all bills included) and one month’s free rent. Thanks to CACOST, TACAA and your generous support of the AARP Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, Lou is safe, settled and happy in her new home, and doing volunteer work for veterans.
IRMA Landfall: August 30, 2017 | Damage: $64 Billion
MARIA Landfall: September 18, 2017 | Damage: $91 Billion
From Antigua to Florida, Hurricane Irma’s impact was as devastating as it was vast. Slamming into the U.S. Virgin Islands as a Category 5 storm, with wind gusts as high as 225 miles per hour, Irma’s effect was most profound on St. Thomas, which suffered extensive structural damage. The storm eventually continued north and made landfall in Florida, causing widespread power outages and wreaking havoc on more than 65,000 structures in the West Central and Southwest areas of the state. Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Maria followed a similar path across the Caribbean, inflicting further damage on many of the same islands. The destruction in Puerto Rico was catastrophic as Maria demolished the island’s power grid and left millions without electricity. Already vulnerable seniors were driven out of their homes, facing immediate danger as well as an uncertain future.
AARP Foundation created a relief fund to collect donations for the victims of these disasters. Thanks to a match from AARP and gifts from generous donors like you, the Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria emergency relief funds have distributed grants totaling more than $2,325,000 for recovery efforts across Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other islands in the Caribbean.
You helped to raise more than $1.75 million for the Hurricane Irma emergency relief fund, which includes $850,000 in matching contributions from AARP, AARP Foundation and the Miami Dolphins organization, and support from AARP members and the public.
You helped to raise more than $560,000 for the Hurricane Maria emergency relief fund, which includes $250,000 in matching contributions from AARP Foundation and support from AARP members and the public.
On a May visit to Puerto Rico and the USVI, AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins and AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson got a first-hand look at the devastation — and witnessed the resilience of those affected by the storms. They met with residents of a local assisted living community, helped with cleanup at a converted homeless shelter, and expressed their heartfelt gratitude to AARP volunteers on the ground.
- Alliance for Aging in Miami-Dade and Monroe
- Council on Aging of Martin County
- Feeding Tampa Bay
- Friendship Centers of Southwest Florida
- Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida
- Heart of Florida United Way
- Jewish Family & Community Services of Southwest Florida
- Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
- Legal Services of Greater Miami
- Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida
- Miami Rescue Mission
- Nassau County Council on Aging
- Senior Connection Center
- St. John’s Council on Aging
- United Way of Broward County
- United Way of Miami-Dade
- Foundation for Puerto Rico
- Fundación Fondo de Acceso a la Justicia
- Fundación Angel Ramos
- Hispanic Federation
- Instituto para el Desarrollo Socioeconómico y de Vivienda de Puerto Rico
- World Central Kitchen
U.S. Virgin Islands:
- American Red Cross of the Virgin Islands
- Catholic Charities Virgin Islands
- Legal Services of the Virgin Islands
- Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands
- My Brother’s Workshop
- St. Croix Foundation
- Women’s Coalition of St. Croix
- Habitat for Humanity
- HelpAge USA
- International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
“It is deeply moving to see the resilience and the resolve of everyone who was affected by the devastation, we are committed to nurturing and reinforcing that resilience. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support from our donors across the nation and are proud to be a part of helping to rebuild the USVI.”
— Lisa Marsh Ryerson, President, AARP Foundation
BEYOND DISASTER RELIEF: Creating a Future Without Senior Poverty
Your generosity proved critical in connecting survivors with food, home repairs, legal advocacy and support as the affected communities in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands continue the long rebuilding process. Older adults and their families have been able to rebuild their lives with dignity thanks to the swift response from caring individuals like you.
When it comes to natural disasters, AARP Foundation is sensitive to the needs of an often-overlooked demographic —low-income, older adults. Similarly, our core work advances our vision of a country where no older adult is vulnerable. Every day, we’re tackling senior poverty by sparking bold, innovative solutions that help vulnerable older adults build economic opportunity and social connectedness. When you support the work of AARP Foundation, you help foster resilience, strengthen communities and restore hope.
AARP Foundation Grants Program
AARP Foundation’s grantmaking supports sustainable, real-world solutions to the fundamental challenges facing low-income older adults. Through grants, AARP Foundation enables grantees to help more people, work more efficiently, bring proven new approaches to scale, and make resources go further. Click below to learn more about our approach to grantmaking, and to view our database of past and current grants.