Healthy Souls International is already making its mark on the world.
The South Daytona-based agency has already provided disaster relief to the Bahamas and Puerto Rico.
“After Hurricane Dorian we started a small drive collecting donations helping people in the Bahamas,” Founder Maria Davila said. “We've come a long way since then, and have continued to work hard to bring relief to those affected by the disasters.”
Her agency sent 55,000 pounds of donations to the Bahamas and now is helping Puerto Rico.
“I leave on (Feb. 7) with five other business owners from our community to be the boots on the ground distributing all of the donations,” Ms. Davila said. “The stuff we are bringing are solar battery chargers, tents, personal care items, some medical supplies, and when we get there, we are going to buy the food.
The organization started with a small hanger in Ormond Beach.
“We had trucks come in and we outgrew the hangar, we just had so much stuff coming” she said.
The Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 22 at a new 4,400-square-foot facility in South Daytona.
“The community has been so supportive of the efforts,” Ms. Davila said. “We plan to continue with disaster relief efforts long term.”
The agency’s values include demonstrating Christian service and fellowship by promoting peace regardless of race or religious beliefs and empowering communities to live healthy lives and work together during catastrophes.
Ms. Davila, who resides in Ormond Beach, has been doing disaster relief since Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Healthy Souls was inspired by several mission trips she went on to Haiti several years ago. She remembered on one trip seeing a grandmother laying in the dirt, dying because no one knew CPR. That inspired her to create and do something that is going to make a difference.
She is now certified to teach first aid and CPR and has Community Emergency Response Team training.
“If you look what’s going on with the coronavirus in China right now, simple things like teaching people how to wash their hands properly goes a really long way,” Ms. Davila said. “I think it can have a positive impact on a lot of people.”
Healthy Souls also has a search and rescue team in South Daytona.
“The goal is to be the hands and feet bringing hope, aid and awareness to people around the world, even here,” she said. “Having the awareness classes, building a stronger community within our community and doing it in other places.”
Operating on a shoestring, Healthy Souls is different from the big non-profits.
“We got a lot accomplished in four months with very little resources coming in,” Ms. Davila said. “I want people to know we make it our initiative to show exactly where (donations) are going. Anytime we send supplies, it goes to the right hands. We do a lot of background work. I know exactly what the people need in the different phases that they are in of their disaster.”
She keeps an open book policy where all donations can be viewed and how expenses are paid. Every receipt is accounted for.
Ms. Davila is involved with the Daytona chamber, which has helped with volunteers and donations. Christmas Eve she got on a plane and took toys, turkeys and hams, and enough food to feed more than 400 people in the Bahamas.
Volunteers and financial donations are needed, especially to help to pay for the vast amount of storage space required to run the operation. Food and other donations are strictly regulated so as not to duplicate efforts of other agencies.
“I like to make sure the resources go to a trusted source that is out distributing, it’s not sitting in a warehouse,” Ms. Davila said.
The South Daytona Fire Department, South Daytona CERT team and multiple businesses also have generously helped.