Guarda Brasil Self Storage: Revolutionizing Humanitarian Aid

Posted by Victória Oliveira on May 28, 2024 2:15:39 PM

In April, the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil, got hit by a flood described as the biggest climate catastrophe in the history of the region. Around 60% of the state was affected by it, and the water reached levels as high as 26 feet tall in some areas, leaving a big part of the population homeless and almost 200 dead.


The Guarda Brasil Self-Storage company was first approached by volunteers at the end of April, asking the company to provide a space to store donations. As time went by and the water levels continued to rise, the operations began to gain a life of their own, as more volunteers from different cities began to get in contact and soon needed extra space, as well as extra sets of hands to help with the big volume of donations, which the company happily provided.


The Brazilian self-storage company Guarda Brasil opened its first facility in 2016. Now, they have a total of 5 facilities distributed around cities in the south of the country. The company has been in the country for almost 10 years, but the owners have been in the market since 1980 when they started their first self-storage venture in the US.


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Four of their five facilities in the region, luckily, weren't hit by the flood and were able to become a donation hub during this moment of humanitarian crisis. The facilities are still receiving donations from all over the country as more and more people sympathize with the cause and come together, creating their own regional campaigns to bring some comfort to the people affected by the floods.


With the increase in demand, as more cities and neighborhoods were also affected, the company started campaigning for donations. Their first effort was to have their collaborator Joelena create and send an informative flyer to their customers, promptly disseminating the information. The campaign generated a significant amount of donations, and they soon decided to start using their social media to support the campaign.


The workers of Guarda Brasil have been receiving and redirecting donations to the people who need them, as well as partnering with local businesses to donate the items that are being promoted online as the biggest necessities at the moment by official channels.


At the Rebouças facility in Curitiba, staff member Jean is not only working with the collection of donations but also donating to those affected by the flood. "I donated clothes. I think these actions are vital for Rio Grande do Sul, strengthening communities and providing support in times of need. Each donation contributes to the well-being of the people of Rio Grande do Sul, promoting solidarity and building a more united state. Together, we can make a difference."


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One of the main demands as of now is for clean drinking water. To help, some volunteer customers of Guarda Brasil met at the facility and started to raise funds to buy bottled water for victims after securing a deal with a water company that agreed to sell it at the price of production to help the victims of the recent tragedy. The campaign response was rapid and successful, with customers and locals willing to help.


Another part of the campaign was to have their staff call customers asking them to donate any items in their storage spaces they didn't want, as most families affected by the flood lost everything they owned, and every donation counts. One of the clients volunteered to help collect donations and transport them to Porto Alegre, one of the most affected cities, ensuring that the help reached those who needed it as fast as possible.


In the facility in Novo Hamburgo, their collaborator Lucas established a fundamental partnership with the Association of the Military Brigade and Military Fire Brigade of Rio Grande do Sul (ABAMF). With this, the association announced that Guarda Brasil had become an official donation collection point, which helped their campaign grow as people started to trust their donations were being directed straight to relief efforts. With the partnership, the association is also committed to collecting and distributing the items appropriately, ensuring that aid is delivered efficiently.


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The Mossunguê facility in Curitiba also became a donation center, and some of their customers offered to help ship the materials to the state of Rio Grande do Sul. A customer of the facility, who is responsible for the logistics of distribution of cleaning materials to large companies in the states of Paraná and Santa Catarina, offered to align with its supplier the donation of some materials to help with the cause.


The Seicho-No-Ie, a religion formed by a philosophy that believes good actions and thoughts can change the world, were responsible for donating several household items, clothes, water, and food.


Judson Shannon, CEO of the company, said they currently have an entire team actively working toward it: "I told some of our staff to go out and offer spaces to nonprofits and charities to use as collecting centers free of charge," he states, as he noticed the now month-long flood had created so much chaos in the state he felt the company had to do the best they could to help. "Everywhere in the state became a donation center overnight, from supermarkets to local businesses. Everyone is receiving donations and redirecting them to the cities affected. We have big spaces, and we are offering them to donation centers that are at capacity to support the movement."


Shannon believes the self-storage business will be essential to the reconstruction of the state. Thinking of that, the company started to offer discounts and logistical support to those affected by the flood. "We are offering 25% discounts to the victims. I am also offering for some of them free moving or 50% off moving, depending on the distance," he stated. "Many people lost their houses, their jobs. People can come to us to rebuild their business and register it with our address. We offer a full service that accepts their boxes and sends them out to pick up. They don't even have to come to our facilities. They can just authorize us to put it in their storage spaces. We do the entire service."


He also mentioned all of their facilities have office spaces where people looking to rebuild their businesses can work. This feature has been available since it first opened its doors in 2016. "It's a common feature we see in facilities all over Latin America," he adds.


The company, however, didn't survive the flood completely intact. Their facility in the city of Porto Alegre was also affected by the water. "Most of the warehouses in the city are in the same area, and we are all currently working on repairs as the water is finally going down," he states.


As water levels began to go down, the Civil Defense issued a new warning of strong storms in the state. The devastation has no prospect of ending anytime soon. But Judson, his business partners, and all of their staff are devoted to helping everyone affected by the flood during this tragic time in the history of Rio Grande do Sul.



Victória Oliveira is a freelance writer for MSM. She lives in São Paulo, Brazil.