A Letter from President & CEO Richard Walden
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
At Operation USA, we’ve spent nearly 40 years responding to disasters here in the United States and abroad. We’ve seen communities completely devastated by earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis and floods. We’ve worked to combat the effects of endemic poverty, and to lessen the impact of violence and warfare. We know all too well how quickly vulnerable communities are thrown into chaos when disasters strike. During our many years of disaster response and recovery, we’ve seen some of the hardest-hit communities in the world—but we’ve never seen devastation on this scale.
Never before have two major hurricanes struck the United States in the same year. Last month, two Category 4 storms hit within one week. A third followed just two weeks later. In Texas, Hurricane Harvey brought unprecedented flooding—taking lives, destroying homes and businesses and leaving a path of widespread destruction all along the Gulf coast. In Florida and the Caribbean, Hurricane Irma’s extreme winds, heavy rainfall and storm surge wiped out entire communities. In Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria caused damage unlike any the territory had seen in nearly ninety years. Cleanup has only just begun. Recovery from these devastating storms will take many years. Children and families who have been impacted by this record-breaking hurricane season are in urgent need of support.
As the United States grapples with the effects of multiple devastating hurricanes, communities around the world face additional post-disaster challenges. Across the Caribbean, many island nations were also decimated by recent hurricanes. In Mexico, families are struggling to recover and rebuild after the strongest earthquake to shake the country in 100 years—a magnitude 8.1 tremor—struck earlier this month, followed by another magnitude 7.1 earthquake less than two weeks later. In Haiti, our feeding program—serving 600 students daily with a nutritious meal—is in danger of being shuttered due to lack of funding. Meanwhile, natural disasters continue to worsen and occur more frequently. There is so much to be done. Operation USA can’t do it without you.
Every day, we strive to meet the needs of the most overlooked and under-served populations. We believe that providing material aid, bolstering health and education, empowering youth, stabilizing families and remaining committed to long-term recovery with community-based partners are the best ways to help children and families recover and thrive in the wake of disasters. We know that supporting these initiatives directly improves lives, builds resiliency and creates a brighter future. Since 1979, these efforts have been at the core of our mission. Your support has made this possible.
Operation USA, like other small, privately-funded relief organizations, has more than doubled its commitment to disaster response these past few months—but, with increased commitment comes increased need. Your donations, now more than ever, are crucial to our ability to provide urgently needed aid.
In these unprecedented times, we are proud of our contributions to relief and recovery here at home–in addition to our work around the world–and we are grateful for your support. With your help, we will continue to do whatever we can, wherever we can, for as long as we can to help our neighbors in need.
Thank you for your generosity.
President & CEO