David Campbell has connected 30,000 volunteers to disaster scenes around the world.

Credit: photo courtesy All Hands

CEO Harnesses Helping Hands for Disaster Relief

March 22, 2016

David Campbell had just left his job as a tech company CEO  in 2004 when a deadly tsunami erupted in the Indian ocean.  Hundreds of thousands of people were killed.  The devastation was massive.  Campbell, who had spent years focused on expanding uses for the Internet, realized he could help.

"The tsunami was the worst natural disaster that had occurred in my lifetime," said Campbell.  "I thought who else will think of using the Internet in the middle of a disaster?"

Campbell flew to Indonesia, connected with locals and then connected to the world.  He set up a website highlighting the needs in just one village.  The response was immediate.

"When volunteers saw the website and said 'I'm coming next week, what do you need?', I'd says bring two chainsaws or whatever we needed," recalled Campbell.  "The group went from 20 to 40 to 80 in the first several weeks."

He had harnessed the goodwill of people who wanted to do something in the wake of disaster.  It was the beginning of All Hands, a nonprofit that in the last decade has connected 30-thousand volunteers to communities ravaged by floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes.

At their home in Carlisle, Massachusetts Campbell's wife, Gay, has created a wall collage featuring images of disaster survivors, volunteers and family.   It's a showcase of David Campbell's legacy.   

"We often talk about the All Hands family, because it does feel that way" said David.  "A center of people working together to accomplish a good thing."

There will be more disasters and more people who want to help.  Campbell wants to make sure All Hands is there to make the connection.  At their headquarters in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts the first group of All Hands fellows recently underwent intense disaster relief training.  They'll lead volunteers building schools in earthquake-ravaged Nepal and cleaning out flood-damaged homes in Detroit. 

Campbell hopes some will be among the next generation to continue All Hand's work rebuilding communities and renewing hope.

"When you're in a community, when a hundred people have come to like that," explained Campbell, "you realize the world knows about your pain and cares enough to do some thing about it."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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