You don't have to look very far these days to find carpenters from all walks of life reaching out to help others - folks like Jose Verdejo who went to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria blasted the entire Caribbean region. Traveling on his own, and lugging suitcases of nonperishable food, Verdejo spent three weeks volunteering his services for those in need. In those first few weeks after the hurricane stuck, the focus was on securing and distributing food and drinkable water.
Verdejo, a union carpenter with Local 253 based in Hackensack, NJ, inspired others in the brotherhood, and since October, the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters has partnered with the New York City District Council of Carpenters and the New England Regional Council in an ongoing effort to organize weekly trips to Puerto Rico where volunteer carpenters have been helping to repair roofs.
Sid Sharma, of Midas Renovations based in Garland, Texas, spent two weeks in early November volunteering in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which was also laid to waste by Hurricane Maria. Sharma worked through All Hands Volunteers, which has been running a volunteer program in the U.S. Virgin Islands since September. The organization says that it expects to open a program in Puerto Rico in early 2018.
Austin-based builder, Matt Risinger, jumped to action to aid his fellow Texans shortly after Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area. Working with his church, who connected with a network of other churches and community service organizations, Matt provided some good information on what to expect if you should join a volunteer effort to bring much-needed relief to the region. His church, The Austin Stone Community Church, provides good information on how to connect with some of the groups organizing volunteer work in Texas.
All Hands Volunteers has also been running a program in Houston since August, where over 1800 volunteers to date have been "mucking and gutting" homes flooded by Hurricane Harvey. To date, the organization has worked on close to 500 homes, but that is just the beginning. Acknowledging that the road to recovery in the Houston region will be long and hard, the organization reports that it is committed to keeping the program open in Houston for the next two years. As of this writing, the organization is offering free airfare within the U.S. to volunteers who commit to working with All Hands Volunteers in Texas for at least two weeks.