Lifeline for Earthquake Survivors Living Far Away, But Not Forgotten

Over the past three years, an anonymous North Texas Community Foundation fundholder has exemplified the best characteristics of effective philanthropy.  She identified an issue of critical concern, researched ways in which resources could be deployed most effectively, and developed relationships with trusted local partners to provide a solution that works.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake shook northeastern Japan, triggering a tsunami that washed over the Miyagi prefecture.  In the Ishinomaki area alone, 6,000 people were killed or missing, and more than 70,000 houses were washed away or damaged.  As news of the disaster spread, philanthropic support poured in from across the world.  But by 2014, the media attention and money moved elsewhere, even though residents were still recovering from the disaster.

When our fundholder learned that more than 45,000 families were still living in temporary dwellings in 2014 (located in the isolated hills to avoid another tsunami) and that 60,000 vehicles were washed away in the flood, she understood the critical need for transportation and worked with local residents to develop a solution.  Resources from her Donor Advised Fund at the Community Foundation enabled RERA, a local nonprofit organization providing transportation services to those in need, to purchase and maintain a van.

Since its inception, RERA has served approximately 120,000 riders. The average number of users per month is 1,828,  85% of whom are over 61.  Many of the users have disabilities and/or chronic conditions and rely on the service to travel to clinics and hospitals.  The resource is invaluable to RERA users, whose average income is only 1.3 million Japanese yen (10,780 US dollars) a year.

RERA services are made available through a combination of private and public grants, which are typically valid for one year. Unfortunately the continuing need of the most impacted residents greatly outpaces funding available to RERA.

According to president, Hiroko Murashima, “Often the weakest members of society are the last to ask for help. I hope we can show those living in the community how to recognize these people and help them out.”  For more information about how North Texas Community Foundation fundholders can provide support for earthquake relief, please contact Rose Bradshaw at


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