Evolving Past the Dollars in Disaster Response and Resiliency

Guest Post – Gabriela Robles, Chief Executive

Climate change is making our fragile planet even more vulnerable. The frequency, intensity, and destruction of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, floods, and wildfires pose a rising significant threat to the livelihood of communities. Since the St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund (Fund) was established over 35 years ago, we have focused on disaster response and long-term recovery of the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health of poor and marginalized communities that often suffer the most following a disaster.


In 1985, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake hit Mexico City. Over 10,000 lives were lost. 30,000 people were injured, and countless people were left without homes. The Fund committed a $1 million grant in the first few days after the earthquake, setting the foundation for our work in disaster response.


We’ve come a long way since our first grant. Initially, we focused on how many dollars we could deploy into the disaster zones. But we have evolved over the years. Now, we understand that our focus should be the impact we create, no matter the dollar amount we invest. Over the years, we have partnered with organizations to provide immediate and culturally responsive approaches while ensuring continuity of care as communities rebuild.


Our partners in proactive, sustainable recovery and preparedness are national and international institutions with subject matter expertise and trusted relationships and networks on the front lines. Some recent partnerships include the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Health Services, and Catholic Charities USA. Our newest partners include Hawai’i Community Foundation and Catholic Charities Hawai’i. [For a list of Fund partners, please visit the Partner’s page on our website. Each of our partners goes the distance with their communities towards wholeness. We are proud of these relationships and are motivated by their dedication.]


Disaster Preparedness and Walking with Love

After catastrophic events, we must listen to the individuals who know best the greatest needs. When we walk with communities in love, we can make a more significant impact. Moreover, we must continually strategize how we can be better positioned before the next disaster – because with climate change, we know there will be a next disaster.


Amid chaos, through our network of partners with lived experience, we offer more than money. We offer hope, respect, trust, and love.


The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange built our legacy in caring for our dear neighbor without distinction. If you aren’t familiar with their belief that everyone must be healthy for a community to thrive, take a look.


This article first appeared on LinkedIn.