Act, Innovate, and Implement: The Fund’s Disaster Relief and Resilience Strategy

Human-caused, environmental, and natural disasters significantly threaten communities, especially those disproportionately impacted by structural racism. The St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund (Fund) knows short-term acute services are vital to stabilizing communities after disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, and disease outbreaks. Therefore, we partner with experts with a local presence to provide immediate and culturally responsive needs while ensuring continuity of care while the community rebuilds and revitalizes. Our resilience efforts also focus on the long-term recovery of physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health, which may often be overlooked following a disaster.

The Fund’s work began in disaster relief. Thirty-five years ago, our first grant went to support communities ravaged by a massive earthquake in Mexico City. Thousands of lives were lost, and the region’s infrastructure was severely devastated. Our $1 million investment bolstered our decades-long commitment to helping the most vulnerable among us in the wake of natural disasters. It also served as a testament to the legacy of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange and their desire to care for the dear neighbor.

To address the most urgent needs of communities, we provide immediate relief to vulnerable communities with limited resources to cope with the effects of policies and practices, that create and perpetuate inequality. We can also tackle the underlying issues, like structural and institutional racism, that perpetuate disparities and we work towards ultimately creating communities that are more whole, more healed, and more able to flourish, hope, love, and grow.

Rebuilding and recovery efforts must consider the unique needs and experiences of the communities. What worked in Mexico City in 1985 would not work in Turkey and Syria or Mississippi and Alabama in 2023. Long-term recovery and preparedness can mitigate the impact of future disasters and makes resources accessible to those who have been historically marginalized – a crucial step for creating equitable outcomes. Furthermore, future planning ensures building and recovery efforts are proactive, creating opportunities for lasting change and transformation.

Innovative Solutions to Disaster Relief

Private funders have opportunities to develop innovative solutions that the government cannot execute. Our efforts are co-designed with national and international partners with trusted relationships and networks on the front lines. We trust that communities know what they need to build sustainable systems and infrastructure to withstand the impacts of future disasters and crises. Effective proactive planning involves identifying potential hazards and risks, analyzing the community’s vulnerabilities and strengths, and developing plans to reduce risk and improve response capabilities. By anticipating potential disasters and preparing for them, communities can better handle the challenges that come with disasters.

As we’ve witnessed just in the decades since tragedy struck in Mexico City, disasters still occur, increasing in frequency due to climate change. However, when we act, innovate, and implement and a disaster does strike, a community with a proactive capacity and infrastructure plan is better positioned to respond quickly, minimize damage, and facilitate recovery efforts.

Follow us on LinkedIn to find out how to act in support of the Fund’s global disaster relief and resilience efforts.