Spontaneous Unaffiliated Volunteers

Every Gift Matters | Blog | 3 Min.
Written By: Carrie Morgridge | Posted On: 11/04/2015

On a recent flight home from the Boston area, I sat next to a man who, like me, was working away on his technology device until the flight attendant instructed us to put them away. That gave my seatmate and me the opportunity to strike up a casual conversation. He told me his name was David Campbell, a retired technology executive. It turns out he knew my father-in-law! They had both been in the technology sector of business at the same time but for different companies.

But that wasn’t the most amazing thing that came out of our conversation. For me, it was the story David told me about how he is connecting his work background to his passion for volunteering in times of crisis. David is now the founder of All Hands Volunteers, a non-profit that addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters. But it didn’t start with him creating an organization. It started with him wanting to make a difference.

He told me a story of how when the tsunami hit Thailand in 2004 he noted the news coverage which reported that the only remaining hotel still had Internet access.  The Internet was David’s business, so ten days later he flew to Phuket, Thailand, to help those in the disaster area stay connected with the rest of the world.  He and some friends spent their own money to appeal online for volunteers to join them.  A new term David had never heard of before, SUV—spontaneous unaffiliated volunteers—started to show up.

In the two weeks David was in Thailand eighty people from around the world came to volunteer.  When Hurricane Katrina hit in the United States in 2005, David deployed in the same way.

It was then that he decided to create the All Hands Volunteers nonprofit, and what the organization has grown into is overwhelming. He said, “It never dawned on me that this service would be needed.”

The emotional power of the work All Hands is doing is stunning:

“A couple showed up at the All Hands Volunteers base with a damaged photo.  It was the only thing they had left of their daughter. Our volunteer was able to restore the photo and give it back to the couple, as the last physical reminder of their daughter.”

When this story hit the Web, dozens of other digital restoration experts went to work, and hundreds of additional photos were recovered.  This is such a great example of giving with your own passion.  The volunteers we have met through the All Hands Volunteers organization have brought their passion to rebuild with them, no matter where in the world God takes them.

David and All Hands have continued to help rebuild communities after natural disasters around the world, and I am so glad to have met him and been able to support his work.

Like what you hear? Pick up a copy of Every Gift Matters: How Your Passion Can Change the World, now available at Amazon.