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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

Randi K.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was an active member of the Hand Reach Beat Brigade for over a year. Beat Brigade is a program that uses group hand drumming as a therapeutic process to aid in the emotional healing, physical therapy, and social development of trauma survivors. The effectiveness of the Beat Brigade method was evident with every practice session and open drumming session I attended, as I witnessed (and personally experienced) attendees with varying levels of physical and/or emotional distress begin to relax, open up, brighten, become engaged, and end the session in a very different place than where they began. I did not have the opportunity to go to Beijing with Beat Brigade and other Hand Reach team members in July of 2011, but the stories - and photos! - they brought back were amazing! I am so impressed by the Hand Reach mission and the passion of its founder, Dr. Brecken Chinn Schwartz, and by how great an impact Hand Reach has already had in the first few years of its existence. Brecken has such a powerful vision for Hand Reach, and the energy, enthusiasm, and pure joy she brings to her work are both infectious and inspiring. She has attracted and motivated quite an array of talented collaborators, ,who share her commitment to the Hand Reach mission. An investment in Hand Reach is a guaranteed investment in a powerful and successful healing organization.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am new to HandReach within the past year, and the group' mission - serving severly traumatized children - is one of the most rigteous and courageous of any non-profit Ihave ever known. t is a spiritually rewarding experience to be involved with this group!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our first experience with HandReach was to help them by hosting Shiwei, a Chinese toddler, and his mother for a couple of month. Shiwei had been severely burned as an infant when his blanket caught on fire. For us, it was life-changing to witness first-hand the critical impact that HandReach had on the life of this innocent small child as they helped him come to Boston for surgery at Shriners. Our connection with HandReach took hold and we have since seen several adorable yet badly injured small children achieve the hope of a normal life thanks to HandReach. With its committed volunteers, HandReach is making a real difference in the world.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Thanks for the opportunities that allowed me to work with the most adorable burn survivors in China! Handreach has accomplished an incredible journey with limited resources thanks to the leadership and hard work by every volunteer. There is much more to do to reach to those little hands who are reaching for our help. Please help Heandreach in every way you can. Thank you!! Physical Therapist, volunteer , Li Li

Abe T.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Handreach really has taken on an unbelievably challenging mission of providing medical care in a field that disproportionately affects the poorest people who are least able to afford it. Burn and amputee care is very important and there aren't enough options available to the survivors of trauma in many parts of the world. Handreach gives them hope to recover, rehabilitate, and live full lives after a horrible tragedy. Handreach's patients truly are survivors, not victims. I've had the opportunity to work with this charity and go to China to witness firsthand the impact of the rehabilitation, care, and support given by Handreach's excellent team of doctors, nurses, and other volunteers. The children's lives are truly transformed and you can see a tremendous change in their attitude as they are given a second chance at life.

johnnyg

Donor

Rating: 5

Handreach does amazing things for burn victims in China. When other agencies have written off victims as beyond hope, Handreach steps up to help. It is a wonderful organization that does amazing work focusing attention on those who have lost hope.

Previous Stories
6

Donor

Rating: 5

Wonderful charity. I'm happy to contribute to a group that provides help to young burn victims. I've witnessed the results of the good works done by this charity; I've seen the new life this charity has given to those who were thought to be hopelessly scarred.

Brecken S.

Board Member

Rating: 5

HandReach has been my life for the past 10 years. Through its work, I have seen injured children's lives be transformed from utter hopelessness to "the sky's the limit." Our donors, volunteers, and Board members are among the most outstanding people I've ever had the pleasure to work with.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the incredible opportunity of working with the HandReach organization in Beijing, China. We worked with an incredible team who provided a wide range of clinical services to children with burn injuries. It was overall a unique and fulfilling experience. I had the opportunity to present scientific research at a clinical conference as well as participate in the clinical interventions in the hospital. Our team provided therapeutic drumming as a subset of psychosocial services being offered to the children. We had a great time and the patients and staff greatly appreciated our presence.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was involved in this organization mainly at the beginning of this organization. I got to know some incredible human beings who devoted their lives to helping those under-privileged.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

HandReach is an amazing charity run by a great group of people. If you want to put your time or money toward a good cause, work with HandReach and you can be assured that 100% of your efforts will go directly toward the children that need help the most. This cause truly inspired me and I know that I will continue to support their efforts for the rest of my life.

5

Donor

Rating: 5

HandReach is unique in its mission and purpose which makes it a very valuable non-profit. I believe in the founder and her staff. I believe my money is not only going to a great cause but is being utilized to the fullest. HandReach gives severely burned children their lives back. What can be better than that?

5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I would like to help this org. by voting and expressing my interest on what this org does. It is important to help people help others. I wish the org. much luck.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began working for HandReach on January 25, 2010 as an assistant and "ball-catcher" to the Executive Director, Dr. Brecken Chinn Swartz. Throughout my employment, I have been amazed by the kindness of our donors, the vision of our management team, and also, unfortunetly, by the lack of funding for so extraordinary and worth a cause. The only thing HandReach needs to become the next Operation Smile or SmileTrain is funding that will allow this charity to expand to the next level: funding for infrastructure, for technology, and for program implementation.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I met Brecken on my first day of classes freshman year at the University of Maryland. She was my professor. When she told us the story about HandReach, how it came about and what motivated her to do such great work--Zhou Lin, I was immediately interested. After becoming a volunteer, I later became the events coordinator for HandReach at the University of Maryland. Despite all of the school work and other extracurriculars I had, HandReach was something I have always been happy to put the time in for. Everyone involved is warm and friendly and has truly golden hearts. While surgeries such as cleft palette surgeries are relatively cheap and straightforward, surgery for burn survivors is certainly not. It is expensive, and patients have to go through many surgeries, not to mention rehabilitation. Because of this there are not that many charities out there trying to help these kids. HandReach is trying to change that. And I hope they do. I can honestly say that HandReach is a truly incredible organization.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My name is Li Li and I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy candidate at Northeastern University. I was amazed by the tremendous work that HandRach has done for the poor children with severe burns in China. But I always had a question: How did Brecken make all these good work happen with very limited financial funding and staff resources? Finally, I found my answer. I remember the moment when I met Brecken in Beijing this January. Her big smile and sincere hug warmed my heart despite the chilling temperature outside. I have always admired Brecken’s heroic work, saving the impoverished children who have suffered from trauma including severe burns. A sense of closeness was developed after I watched Zhou Lin’s story on YouTube, a girl from my hometown province in China. At the end of the video, Brecken told us a story about starfish, which made me determined to pursue the volunteer opportunity to help the children at the International Burn Center in Beijing, China. The story was about a person trying to save the ashore starfish, placing them back to the water one at a time. Just like trying to save the dying starfish, Brecken has helped and continues to help the children in desperate need in China, one by one, but for sure. Brecken is not only a great mom to Zhou Lin, she is also the loving mother for all the children who she has helped. She is building the hope for the children who experienced trauma and amputations to achieve their full life potentials. I am going with the Rehab specialist team to Changsha and Beijing in a few days. And I am very honored and excited the trip. Now it is our turn to help Brecken and HandReach. Let us help to raise the awareness of severe burns and a big affected population in china. Let us help Brecken to be able to reach her hands farther to save the poor children. let us help to bring hopes to the children who might never have imagined their lives could be as exciting and colorful as the others'. Please kindly consider your grants, donations and support to Brecken and HandReach. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When Brecken contacted me with a request for Dan to speak at her event I had never heard of HandReach. Hearing the story of her daughter and what HandReach was planning to do was immediately inspiring and I felt a need to help make the event happen and a hope to get involved in some way. Meeting the group of people who will be going to China on the current effort instantly confirmed my feelings - each member of this team has a true drive to service and will help in the healing of so many people. I am proud to support such an organization and hope for more involvement in the future.

6

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am 62 years old and totally and permanently disbled primarily from a car accident my entire family was in when I was 12 years old. I have known Brecken Chinn Schwartz for nearly 6 years and love her wonderful open heart, brilliant mind and dedication to making this world a better place in which to live for as many people as she possibly can. The car accident my family and I suffered changed our lives totally in seconds, so it is very easy for me to relate to the devasting changes in people's lives that burn accidents can bring to any one at any time. I am also all too aware of how expensive medical treatment can be. Our family was also very poor in material ways, as are many of the children HandReach is helping. The good thing is that I know how extremely precious the love and support of others can be both to the giver and the receipient. HandReach gives me an opportunity to really help others, who have also suffered devasting injuries in the blink of an eye. I am the oldest of nine children. We were all in the car when another vehicle smashed into us head-on. My father's heart and lungs were punctured by the steering wheel. He died instantly. My mother was in critical condition for 3 and a half days and no one expected her to live. Eventually, I was healed sufficiently to go and visit my little brother and baby sister in the ward for younger children. In a nearby bed there was a 5 year old boy under a partial tent of light blankets. His mother was there most of the time keep him company. The lower half of his body had suffered third degree burns which were completely visible at all times under the open tent. I would visit them too because they were lonely with no other visitors. Back then the treatment was not very helpful it seemed, but prayers and company and a loving smile were much appeciated. Then, as now, that was all I could provide. By sharing the good news about all that HandReach is doing for children who have suffered devasting burns like my young friend did so many years ago, I too can help in a small way with the fund raising effort. Brecken has shared some of the stories of their young patience and asked for prayer support also, which I am more than happy to give. When I have more resources, I will share them. I urge everyone to give all they can to this wonderful healing effort.

6

Board Member

Rating: 5

HandReach is an amazing organization, with its noble mission of helping all children get equal opportunities of education and life. The Children's Healing Initiative (CHI) program helps the children who are severely burnt or amputated to get back the mobility so that they can live a productive life, which they wouldn't possibly have otherwise. HandReach has helped many individual children, and is strategically moving from a direct service provider to focusing on changing the system so that much more children can be helped. In order to do that, it needs more funding and resources. I hope people will support HandReach to achieve its goals and help all the needy children.

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

My experience with Handreach and their staff has been wonderful. They're extremely caring, thoughtful and will do almost anything to help a person in need. The caring trickles down from the woman in charge, who's on another level in terms of caring and helpfulness.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I think many organizations need to take notes from HandReach and it's amazing leader and founder, Brecken Swartz. I believe leadership that is lead by love can go far beyond what is imaginable. This organization is rooted in love and harmony which has allowed for great things to happen and many more to come. Brecken has been able to organize and bring a group of varied individuals together for this great mission but she needs more help. Her energy can only go so far. More funding would allow HandReach to physically reach others in need of care. It is amazing that this one person can take this organization this far, I can only imagine where this would go if HandReach were funded the way it needs to be funded.