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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

39 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've directly seen the impact this organization has on the lives of children around the world, and am so grateful for the services it is able to provide!

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with HandReach during their last outreach to Beijing in June of 2013. Even expecting to have a great experience didn't prepare me for how much of an impact this organization and these children would make in my life. I look forward to many years of further involvement with HandReach!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

HandReach continues to touch the lives of many children and their families who have been affected by serious burns and traumatic injuries. They truly care about these children and are dedicated to supporting their physical, emotional, and psychosocial well-being in any way that they can.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

HandReach is committed to helping children with burn injuries. Please help them continue this good work.

4 Karen437

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Brecken Chinn, Executive Director of HandReach, is one of the most dedicated and caring individuals I have ever met. She walks her talk. She cares deeply about the people that HandReach serves. I have volunteered for a couple of her events. Everyone involved is committed to helping burn survivors have their very best lives. I know that every dollar I donate to HandReach will be put to good use. Bless them.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I know the Executive Director Brecken Chinn and several of the members on the board. I have seen personally the dedication with which they work and the emotional commitment to the people they serve. Their commitment to help burn survivors in countries which have few to nonexistent facilities for burn survivors is really outstanding and inspiring. I will continue to support this non profit in any way I can and encourage anyone reading this to do the same!

5 George14

Advisor

Rating: 5

Handreach has gone out of its way to help those in need. When I say need, I should clarify: Handreach reaches out to those in the most desperate of need in the harshest of places. I am a burn survivor who was once in need of assistance with my graduate work. Handreach offered me the opportunity to go to Beijing, China and assist burn survivors learn more about themselves. As it turns out, I wasn't in much need of help at all. I learned that many, MANY of the homeless individuals in Beijing were themselves burn survivors who were unable to find employment due to facial scars or physical infirmity. Handreach's goal is to reach out to these survivors and offer them a second chance to find work, to live, to learn, and to become whole again. The Executive Director, Dr. Brecken Chinn, personally gave me the opportunity to see Chinese burn survivors up close. I was able to assist some of those same survivors to understand that their lives were not at an end, and that they could be successful and happy. I'd like to think that I may have saved a few lives in the process, with an opportunity that only Handreach was able to offer. Furthermore, Handreach also raises funds specifically to help burn survivors (especially pediatric patients) with their surgeries, rehabilitation, and prosthetic limbs. I cannot think of another organization that has truly tried to reach so far, yet which struggles so much to raise funds and further help fulfill it's mission to make sure that best practices in pediatric burn and amputee care and rehabilitation are available around the world, where they are needed most.

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I met the Director, Dr. Brecken Swartz, in 2011 and started working with Handreach shortly thereafter. Their work in foreign countries is truly admirable and their idealism and optimism is difficult to beat. Handreach raised the funds to create a Pediatric burn ward in China, which is still one of the top burn wards in that country. The work they do reaching out to some of the world's most in need individuals amazes me and makes me proud to have been able to help out. In fact, I was able to visit the China General Air Force hospital's burn ward in 2012 and see many of the patients that they treated. And though it is a place of suffering (as hospitals tend to be), it was also a place of hope, where the children (and some adults as well) were able to receive help and assistance that they never though would be possible. Burns are a terrible trauma to have to suffer - the short term physical pain leads to long term emotional, social, and economic pain - but these individuals might have otherwise not been treated at all. Being able to use a new technique to give an individual the use of his arms back was the pride of my trip, which would not have been possible without Handreach's help and support.

I only wish I could help more.

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Marriah S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have known about HandReach for only a few months, but those few months have made a huge difference in my life! I am a volunteer with HandReach, working with both the BeatBrigade and community outreach. I know the Executive Director, Brecken Chinn, personally. I have met all of the board members and Jolene Swartz, the first burn survivor helped by HandReach. Every person involved has incredible dedication, passion, and compassion! They make excellent use of the small amount of resources they have to work with, including donor funds, volunteers, and medical technology. Their mission is truly inspiring because they know any person can become a burn survivor. They know that getting burned should not mean one stops being treated with compassion, no matter where you live! They match people's good intentions with resources that help every burn survivor, medically, psychologically, and socially. The BeatBrigade lifts the spirits of every person involved, because no matter how badly you have been burned, no matter where you have been burned, you can still experience the joy of drumming within a supportive community. The medical teams at Shriner's hospitals restore a burn survivor's face and body while the BeatBrigade and countless volunteers restore a burn survivor's hope. The strength of spirit demonstrated by burn survivors is truly astonishing!

LiLi L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a very committed volunteer for HandReach since 2009. The reason is only one: we help those children with terrible injuries and trauma, and they had no place to go.
The smiles on their faces are priceless!
Please keep up the good work and please continue to support Handreach, where your love and care is only a tiny hand away!
Dr. Li Li, DPT, PT

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Keep making maricles happen with very limited budget. Thanks to all volunteers!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My name is Hang and I am a university student. Last year I took a year off to volunteer in Beijing as part of the HandReach Team! I was able to marvel, FIRST HAND, at the love filled contributions HandReach makes for the children in the Burn Rehabilitation Unit at the Hospital I was placed at (both medical and psychological). It lightens my heart to know that because of HandReach, I had the honor of being a part of those kids' worlds during such a prominent part of their lives. HandReach is based on the solid foundation of selfless love and kindness, and this is why i know HandReach will continue to influence with world with its goals, and why I look forward to being part of the HandReach Team for years and years to come!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.