Carrie Abbott interviews Shannon Field, Executive Director

Helping Hands and Amor en Acción continue to supply water, meals, clothing and temporary shelter not only in the city of Trujillo but beyond, in the surrounding villages of the La Libertad department of Peru. We are also providing safe areas for the children to play, and counseling support for their mothers.

KCIS 630 radio host, Carrie Abbott, interviewed Shannon Field, Executive Director of Helping Hands, on her “Relationships Insights” program which aired on March 29, 2017. Listen to her describe Helping Hands’ origin, its evolution, the services provided, how we were ready to act immediately when the floods struck, and the on-going needs of the flood victims.

Peru Floods

This past couple of weeks has felt like a lifetime to me. I have never felt so deeply inadequate, useless, and personally connected to devastation before. I was driving when my WhatsApp rang. Wendy and I often talk in the evenings, so it wasn’t a surprise when I saw her name on caller ID. The moment I answered the phone I knew things were not OK. My friend was crying and beginning to panic. The rains had started the day before and they had not stopped. Trujillo was flash flooding, and mudslides were destroying everything.

“Amiga, you need to call Coco, it’s very bad out in Victor Raul.”

At this point, I had no idea if we even had a school left standing. After a panicked text to my board and some close friends, I got on the phone. The news was not good. Roads were washed out; homes were washed out in the muds, and dehydration was quickly becoming a problem. Temperatures were still in the 90s.

There was, however, some very good news. Our building was standing. Coco through his own emotion explained to me that because we had made the decision to redo the septic tank, it reinforced the foundation of our west wall. On our south wall, we put a new roof. It also reinforced the wall and prevented the rains from getting in and ruining our sewing machines and classrooms. Our little broken down school was standing, and the community needs our help, and the mayor was calling us for help.

With the roads and bridges being washed out and the rains predicted to last up to a month, we knew the food and water trucks would not be getting in anytime soon. We reached out to our partners at Water Missions, and they provided at cost ($10) to us water storage containers. This meant we could give away our clean well water and leave enough water for a few days.

I honestly could not tell you how many days I have spent crying this week. I have seen videos and gotten voicemails from friends and loved ones who are scared and have lost loved ones due to this disaster. I have also seen something incredible. I watched our organization work exactly as it was designed to: We did not have to organize and prepare as we already were ready. We are lucky to be a community-based organization. After my first conversation with Coco, we prayed, hung up the phone, and we both went to work. I doubt either of us has slept much over the past couple of weeks.

To those of you who have given. THANK YOU! Thank you, does not even come close to how grateful I feel to the love you extended. Every $10 we raised provided a water storage container filled with water. We have also been able to provide about 300 meals a day, and now we are taking silos to areas that have been cut off and have not had water for close to two weeks. You made that happen. You allowed me to say “Go.” It was probably the single biggest word I have ever said. To be honest, I was not at all confident.

Clean water is only the beginning of the problems this community faces. Physical safety is an issue; dehydration, hunger, disease are rapidly on the rise. Rebuilding can begin only when the rains stop. With our rainboots on the ground, we are already addressing these issues and planning for the future. Our goal is $100,000. We know that water is only the first step. We already see the first signs of disease on skin and respiratory issues from stagnant water. I fear for my friends and family. This was more than a catastrophic natural disaster, it is the worst rain Peru has seen in over 50 years and possibly the worst ever in destruction.

I could write volumes about the impacts thus far, but I’ll save those for another day. For now, please help us help the men, women, and children of Trujillo through this disaster. Donate now. It is a few easy clicks either using PayPal or a credit card on our website, or at gofundme.

Thank you for your support,

A note from our Executive Director

[From the desk of Shannon Field]

Helping Hands has changed over the last few years. One of those changes is that we help people in need in our local Western Washington community.

This is the story of Shelley, just one of many people touched by your helping hands.

First a little background: At our fundraising auction in October 2016, Roz Gorc (now our board president) brought the King County Chaplain Sue Timpe as her guest. Though Sue was familiar with our thrift stores, she was unaware of the work we do in our local community and in Peru. At the auction, she heard about our many programs and efforts. Coincidentally, her son Darren is a police officer for the City of Bothell Police Department and we had just finalized our partnership with both them and the Bothell Fire Department.

Shortly after the auction, Darren received a call from the Microsoft XBOX team, which wanted to raise money to help families in the area. Darren directed them to Helping Hands. With our partnership with Bothell Police and Fire Departments and the Northshore School District, we had identified ten families in need to receive a Christmas tree, stand, and decorations; a $100 Helping Hands Thrift Store gift card; a $500 Visa gift card; and a new XBOX SI along with a Live membership and all the games the kids could ever want. (Any money raised beyond this was designated for the construction of one of our community centers in Peru.)

One of the ten families receiving these gifts was Shelley’s, and I was asked to deliver hers personally. I didn’t know much about her circumstances, but what I did know made my mother’s heart hurt. When I walked into her home, Shelley greeted me with the strongest, most loving hug.

I am a mom, and when I looked at her face, my mama’s heart reacted. We instantly bonded. I am having a hard time putting to words what happened, but it was just easy to talk. After all the delivery elves left, Shelley shared her heartbreaking story with me: her beautiful daughter had been murdered in cold blood in 2015.

Her tragic death should never have happened. The man who violently ended her daughter’s life had been serving time in prison. Due to a computer glitch, he was erroneously sent free. Less than two months later he murdered Shelley’s daughter Annelise on a cold February morning.

Shelley’s life changed forever. She had recently had heart surgery. One day she had a daughter, the next she was gone in an instant. One day she enjoyed spoiling her grandson, the next she was his full-time parent.

She began to prepare for Christmas. She wanted to make his Christmas special. Then a call came from the nurse at her grandson’s school. “I gave your name to Helping Hands, to get you a little extra help at Christmas, I hope you don’t mind?” She didn’t at all. This was totally unexpected and she was extremely grateful.

Not only did she get help to make Gabriel’s Christmas special, but she also found in her community support, love, and a place to go when she needs some help.

The day before we delivered her gifts, a jury found Annalise’s killer guilty of all charges. Recently I joined Shelley and her family as they heard the judge pass sentence on her daughter’s killer: Life, with no chance for parole. The judge also ensured that “life” mean the entirety of this man’s life. Seeing the community of police, prosecutors, family advocates, Helping Hands, coming to support Shelley, and being part of this community has been an honor.

This is why I do what I do. This is why we are here to help. When you partner with us, you are a true hero, in every sense of the word. You are changing lives around the world. I am humbled because I know I could not do this job without each of you. Your support, love, and prayers make it possible. I am excited to for 2017 and the opportunities to get to know each of you on deeper level and share the incredible life-changing stories you make happen.

Deepest of thanks,