Most often with natural disasters, databases are used to compile statistics and disseminate information. Rarely are there reports on how database software can be used to make a difference for towns in need of aid by remaining usable for longer periods of time than major charitable organizations or by allowing direct contact from donors to those in need. That is, until Caitria O'Neill – a Harvard alumni and native of Monson, Massachusetts – created her database website, Recovers.org, that offers just that.
One success story of Recovers.org is the town of Forney, Texas. In April, the small Texas town was struck by a tornado. Forney.recovers.org was launched and, subsequently, raised $30,000 within the first four days, in addition to whatever state and federal aid the town may have been granted.
Because Recovers.org's databases stay active for a much longer period of time than mainstream media stays interested in these stories, towns are able to raise much more money. The database allows administrators to post their needs and respond to queries.
"The site gives people the tools to recover since the database stores all previous offers of donations," said O'Neill to CBS Boston.
Recovers.org is also a finalist in an incubator program known as MassChallenge, comprised of all Massachusetts-based startups. As a finalist in the program, Recovers.org will participate in a three-month acclerator programming that begins on June 25. At the end, the top 10 to 20 startups will share a $1 million cash award.
According to the source, if O'Neill wins she plans on using the funds to add staff members and resources for database administration that can respond more quickly and efficiently to future disasters.
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