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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

HandReach

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Health, Hospitals, International, International Relief, Youth Development Programs

Mission:

The world's poorest children are at highest risk of the world''s most expensive injuries -- burns and amputations. These sudden, life-changing trauma injuries can happen in a second without warning but require a lifetime of support. The world has ample resources in the form of medical care, rehabilitation therapy, and psychosocial support for trauma survivors, but it is not getting to the children who need it most. HandReach is working to bring together the best hands in the world to promote healing, rehabilitation, and the full development of human potential among the world''s poorest and most badly-injured children.

HandReach works at three levels:

1) Individuals: We facilitate the sharing of best practices across countries and institutions by educating clinicians, therapists, parents, and healers of all kinds. We also work to bring acute, reconstructive, and psychosocial care to children who are in great need of surgery or rehabilitation therapy that their families cannot possibly afford.

2) Institutions: We facilitate international clinics, sponsor training, develop technological resources, and arrange for the donation of needed equipment and supplies so that institutions can maximize their ability to treat complex injuries and promote full rehabilitation for children, regardless of income. 

3) Society: We advocate for the needs of the poor to promote greater access to medical care, education, safer products, building materials, and work practices, and a place in society that includes greater access and acceptance for people with physical differences.

We are working to develop a free international database of best practices in pediatric burn care and orthopedic rehabilitation that allows doctors and therapists to consult across the world on cases. This online resource database will be readily translatable into any language and provide short, detailed videos that address various aspects of excellent burn and orthopedic care -- from skin grafting to splinting to prosthetics to psychological support for children and families. 

 If a child is burned in China, for instance, her doctor can provide details about the case, consult live expert clinicians internationally, and be directed to easily downloadable videos in Chinese to share with staff and the patient''s family. HandReach''s work would then be to spread the word of this database and foster face-to-face contact between clinics worldwide. HandReach''s dream is for there to be nowhere in the world a child can be injured that is out of reach of excellent medical care and psychosocial support.  

Target demographics: Children with burn injuries worldwide.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 125 children and countless others around them

Geographic areas served: Entire planet, especially developing countries. (Working on model program in China currently)

Programs:   The HandReach Beat Brigade seeks to empower local youth through healing modalities such as drumming, rehabilitation therapy, and leadership development through assisting child trauma survivors locally and abroad. The Beat Brigade’s purpose is to offer training and experience for local youth to travel internationally to train teams in developing countries who work with pediatric trauma patients, particularly those with major burn injuries and amputations.

Community Stories

80 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a burn survivor and profession musician, I have been looking for a way to give back to the community that has inspired and motivated me to keep going and never quit. In Handreach I have found a voice,a support group, an outlet, a chance to play and enjoy the company of like minded people, but even more..... I have found heart. During my stay at hospital and in recovery, long after the PT's, medical staff, friends and family had gone home for the night, I was alone and my worst moments were not the physical pains as much as the negative thoughts that resonated doubt, insecurity and dispair. With Handreach and fhe incredible work they do.... My own critic is silenced and I find love, respect, devotion and heart: tremendous heart!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered for a Hand Reach drumming event and was moved by the devotion of it's members, Director and everyone associated with the orgranization. The drum circle was well attended and brought such a diverse group together and all you could see were smiles, smiles and more smiles. Important work being done here.

1 Julian T.

Board Member

Rating: 5

HandReach is one of the best examples you'll ever come across of how small really is beautiful. The number of kids and others it has helped and continues to help, and the extent of the difference it has made in their lives, are out of all proportion to its size. From its remarkable Exec.Director Brecken Chinn to its most occasional of helpers, everyone associated with HandReach puts their shoulders to the wheel in the most extraordinary way. HandReach is the very definition of a great non-profit.

Kolya S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for Hand Reach since 2010! Hand Reach is more than just drumming. I'm a Medical Sociology major and Hand Reach is a community! And a beautiful one at that! Reaching out to trauma survivors, of every kind, but especially burn survivors, Hand Reach restores the confidence and brings beauty out with every beat of the drum, every beat of the heart. So grateful to volunteer for such a GREAT Nonprofit! :)

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Handreach provides healing in more ways than one; physical, emotional, spiritual. Handreach is a loving, supportive community. To give back to burn survivors, renewing their self-confidence is something that's immeasurable. I am so proud to be a volunteer of Handreach for 3 years.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am very lucky to have met and worked with the HandReach team this summer as a volunteer! This is truly an incredible organization comprised of compassionate and dedicated people who genuinely want to help in whatever ways they can to support the physical and emotional recovery of these children. I was able to observe the team as they shared their expertise on burn contracture management with the Chinese physical therapists, and I got to see the smiles of the kids as they painted huge colorful murals with the HandReach team in between their therapy sessions! It was clear how much happiness the HandReach team brought these kids, and how receptive the hospital staff were to learning everything they could from the team.

Personally, HandReach has also helped me clarify my career goals and has nurtured my passion for caring for those afflicted with burn injuries. Coming straight from a 6 month work experience on a Burn/Trauma Unit in Boston, the 2 month experience on a pediatric burn unit in Beijing that HandReach assisted me in setting up enabled me to compare healthcare systems, determinants, and barriers as well as burn care techniques, which I feel has already made me a better nurse. I realized on this trip the vital role that organizations like HandReach has in providing experiential learning especially for aspiring healthcare professionals. The opportunity to observe care practices in a different country is invaluable, because it offers countless opportunities to not only learn, but also share experiences in a mutually beneficial partnership in which resources, education, and clinical work can be shared. Easily one of the best experiences I've ever had in my life. I came back from this trip inspired by the knowledge I had gained, touched by the children I met, and very excited to share all that I had experienced with my co-workers in the burn unit, my friends, and classmates. I honestly learned more than I ever expected to learn from the HandReach team, the hospital staff, the children, and their families, and only hope now that I will someday be able to pay it forward.

1 Cornell C.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I teach drumming in therapeutic setting with Handreach's BeatBrigade. Most impressivee is the vision and energy of it's director Brecken Schwartz. Under her leadership, the organization continues to do it's important work to brighten prospects for burn survivors and other traumatized people. I recently participated in the therapeutic drumming at the Springfield Shriners annual fundraising event and it was inspiring. On a monthly basis, I facilitate BeatBrigade's drum circle for people interested to learn more about drumming as a healing modality.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering at HandReach since its inception. HandReach has done tremendously in helping children not only recover but also gain independence from trauma. I am especially grateful of what HandReach has done to help amputated children during China's earthquake in 2008 rehabilitate and regain confidence in life . HandReach's work has played an critical role to raise our awareness to the oftentimes marginalized groups in China, the amputated children in China.

Raja2

Donor

Rating: 5

I came to know about the work of HandReach through talking to the director, Brecken Chinn. I was impressed with the dedication I saw in her and her team of volunteers who achieve so much with so little by way of resources.

I was so impressed with the work they do, I have volunteered to help with managing their operations, as that is what I do professionally for a living. I am excited to be able to make a difference in the lives of pediatric burn victims in China and other third-world countries.

Jim_80

Donor

Rating: 5

Handreach focuses on a group often forgotten, children with severe burns in China. This is a group that should be taken care of by their government, but often are not. Thankfully Handreach is there to help.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've become familiar with HandReach by being personally involved in their Beat Brigade therapeutic drumming group which takes drumming into hospitals and other locations where it can serve as a great social and sonic therapy for burn victims or patient/trauma populations of any sort (and it's good for 'healthy' people too!) But I've also learned a lot about the organization's work in China and bringing burn victims to the US for treatment, and it's path-breaking approach to one of the most pressing and most ignored medical needs in the developing world. Simply in basic mathematical terms of human suffering that can and should be addressed, Hand Reach deserves your support and deserves to grow into a huge movement and organization that can network and bring resources to heal burn and trauma vicitims who otherwise will suffer terribly and needlessly.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I was involved with Handreach a few years ago and it has done so much and changes so many people's lives.

Sameh E.

Donor

Rating: 5

Exactly one year passed since I wrote my first great review of this fine organization. Through the last year I had the honor in witnessing the dedication of all involved and especially the hard work and sacrifice of Dr. Brecken Chinn to aid those in need. by focusing on burn survivors, HandReach is a pioneer in directing the world's attention to the tragic pain and suffering of millions around the world who are waiting for a helping hand, waiting for HandReach.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Handreach is an organization founded by a great, courageous,loving woman, who sacrifices and strops at nothing to help and give those in need from the goodness of her heart, and for absolutely nothing in return, but the smile on the faces of those in pain. She is Dr. Brecken Chinn Swartz. An organization inspired by one of the most courageous young women on earth, Jolene Chinn Swartz, Brecken's adoptive Daughter, who despite her injuries, pain , and physical challenges was able to adapt to a new society, a new country, a new language, and become a happy successful college student, with bright future. I had the honor of knowing Brecken and Jolene personally, I admire their courage and spirit of giving, and urge all who read this to donate to this noble cause, and always believe that any donation to such cause is never money wasted, as God's reward to you will be much greater.

Richard68

Client Served

Rating: 4

I was impressed immediately by a mission that is based on love rather then judgement. What a breath of fresh air in troubled times. I feel comforted knowing Handreach exists.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

HandReach is an amazing organization that I was introduced to this summer after I was offered the opportunity to volunteer on a trip to China. The sponsored group was able to assist and treat in a hospital in Beijing, educating staff and providing services for an underserved group of pediatric burn survivors. I cannot speak more highly of the HandReach mission and its importance in places where access to expensive burn care is scarce at best. I know that funding has also assisted patients with travel expenses to receive care they desperately need in the United States.

Donor

Rating: 5

Both the vision and application of Hand Reach are touching many in beautiful ways. For me it's a chance to help. For others to serve. Others to learn and share inspiration , creativity and hope. And for burn victims and their families and community it's a chance to heal and live against great odds.any thanks to Hand Reach and divert appreciating and encouragement to grow and thrive for many years to come

Donor

Rating: 5

A great organization with effective leadership, providing a unique (and very creative) mix of services to underserved populations. And they do it with a sense of fun.

Peter P.

Donor

Rating: 5

I am proud to be a in my fourth year of donating to Handreach, through a recurring subscription. I know that my money is being put to good use, that it reaches its intended beneficiaries, and that I can count on the organization to be good stewards of my donations.

Twenty (ahem, or more) years ago, I was a student in college, learning about the values of world citizenship and being caring and compassionate for those in need. The founders and administrators of this organization, one of whom was sitting beside me in those classes, exemplify the values I hold dear. They care for the most damaged of victims, and enable them to have meaningful and productive lives.

As a donor, I am confident in the use of my funds because I have regular, detailed, and meaningful communication with the organization. They demonstrate their accomplishment, and they make me aware of specific needs as they arise.

Previous Stories

Donor

Rating: 5

I became aware of HandReach when I reconnected with its Director, Brecken Chinn Schwartz, a college friend. I regularly support a number of humanitarian organizations, particularly those that focus on education and health needs for children. I am amazed at the amount of good work this organization is able to do with such limited funds, and I am amazed at the incredible dedication of their small army of volunteers.

Personal connection is the strongest motivator for ongoing support of international humanitarian work. Attention spans are short, and there are always new critical needs... sustained support requires ongoing contact. SmileTrain is extremely well-funded, and they are in constant contact with me... what have we done with your money, who have we helped, what was the outcome, and what can you do to expand your help? I would like to point more of my friends to HandReach.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently found HandReach and after seeing the stories of the children they are helping, I knew in my heart that this was the charity I wanted to get involved in. These poor children have been through so much and I am sure that without HandReach they would be much worse off. Right now, a 12-person clinical team is just returning from a partner burn unit in Beijing, and now they are working on writing visa letters to bring several of the burn victims to Shriners for help. I signed up to help monetarily, but I was even invited to meet the children once they are transferred to a hospital in Galveston as well as I can volunteer to help personally. The organization is run by volunteers, so any donations that are made go toward helping the children. The volunteer staff that I have been in touch with is extremely friendly and open about sharing the current updates on the children. I am so thankful to HandReach for the work they do and I cannot wait to get more involved. They are a group of very special volunteers helping even more special children get the medical treatments they could not get without HandReach's help. Thank you HandReach for letting me be a part of this awesome charity!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am currently in my fourth year at Northeastern University studying Human Services. I got to know about HandReach in last spring semester at a panel that was held at my University. When I heard about HandReach, I knew for sure that I wanted to be in Beijing that summer.

My professional experience thus far has been focused on helping and educating a large population from diverse backgrounds and with varying needs. Moreover, I have an extensive background working with children as a teacher as well as a mentor coordinating effective programs and providing services to improve lives of others. So when I found out about the volunteering opportunities at HandReach, I wanted to give my contribution there helping and encouraging kids to have hopes and future.

Despite the fact that my Mandarin level was very poor, I still got around pretty well and was able to communicate with other therapists. I tried taking Mandarin class in advance but I’m not going to lie, it’s a challenging language! However, with my outgoing personality, I didn’t have too much problems forming friendships with children and my coworkers at the rehabilitation center. I was there to organize and coordinate activities for children as well as making sure the children are happy when they’re not receiving painful treatment.

My volunteering experience in Beijing this summer was beyond amazing; I was able to truly open my eyes toward burn victims and really think about how I can help these population. Because I have so much experiences with direct work, it has helped me to better understand the program aspect of business because I've seen the impact of these programs. So after working at HandReach for one month, if I ever do get the opportunity, I want to focus helping out in the administrative aspect of the organization in the future. I want to learn more about how funding is managed, and how this human service organization functions as a whole.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked with HandReach for several years; I traveled on two different trips to China to do cross cultural work with medical providers in two hospitals with wings devoted to burn rehabilitation. I have never seen a group bring such joy! Through a combination of trained medical exchange, music and play therapies, and training in basic child life, we were able to overcome language barriers to promote a set of best practices within this international community.The children we served directly, and the doctors, therapists and nurses we trained, were grateful and enthusiastic participants in the exchange--I can say that I learned a great deal in terms of my own application of occupational therapy techniques, but I also was able to make connections with families and children, and make lasting, low-tech recommendations to families who need them most. It's a wonderful nonprofit that has been around for over ten years and deserves your support!