Happy Hearts Fund

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Happy Hearts Fund
Formation 2005
Type Non-governmental organization
Legal status
Headquarters P.O. Box 725, NY 10014
Location New York, United States
Region served
Founder & Chair
Petra Němcová
Executive Director.
Sue Veres Royal
Website www.happyheartsfund.org

Happy Hearts Fund is a non-profit foundation dedicated to rebuilding schools and restoring hope and opportunity in the lives of children after natural disasters. HHF works during the period after emergency response is complete, implementing sustainable practices to ensure a lasting impact.


Czech Republic supermodel Petra Němcová and her photographer/fiance Simon Atlee (9 October 1971 – 26 December, 2004) were on working holiday at the Khao Lak resort in Thailand.

On 26 December 2004 a tsunami hit the coastal resort where they were staying, triggered by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. Initially, Atlee was presumed missing, but he had drowned and his body was found and identified on March 3, 2005, on the shores of Sumatra (near the epicenter of the earthquake that caused the tsunami).

Němcová suffered a broken pelvis and serious internal injuries, but she managed to hold onto the top of a palm tree, reportedly for eight hours, until she was rescued by Thai civilians and airlifted to an inland hospital nearby.[1] Němcová spent three weeks in a Thai hospital, and then flew home to the Czech Republic, where she spent an additional three weeks in the hospital. Němcová's first interview after her near-death experience was with Diane Sawyer on ABC's Primetime Live, on March 9, 2005. She has also spoken of her experiences on the Larry King Live program on CNN.


When Němcová returned to Thailand a few months after the tsunami, she witnessed families without homes, children without parents and entire communities swept away. She was most affected by the children and sought to figure out a way to help them rebuild their lives and bring back hope and opportunity. Unsatisfied with the response of organizations that were unable to specify which children, or even which country, would benefit, Němcová set out to create her own entity and structured it so that all administrative costs would be underwritten, thereby ensuring that 100% of all donations received would be directed to children's programming.[2]

HHF was founded by Nemcova on her return to the United States. It received its 501(c)3 status in 2006.

Happy Hearts Fund Mission[edit]

Happy Hearts Fund rebuilds safe-resilient schools in areas impacted by natural disasters. We work during the gap period when children are forgotten after emergency response is complete, bringing hope and empowerment to generations of children and entire communities.

Happy Hearts Fund Vision[edit]

We envision countries receiving long-term, sustained response after natural disasters strike ensuring that children are not forgotten.

Happy Hearts Fund Tag Line[edit]

"Rebuilding safe, resilient schools in areas impacted by natural disasters"


HHF initiatives are focused on bridging the gap between emergency post-disaster relief and fully restored infrastructure. While disaster relief meets immediate needs for food, shelter, water and disease control, it can be some time before governments start the process of rebuilding infrastructure and that creates a gap in the recovery process. It is during this gap that HHF steps in to help rebuild.

Program Structure[edit]

HHF programs have three key components: education, technology and sustainability.

1. Education
HHF identifies schools in areas adversely affected by natural disasters and builds or rebuilds them allowing children to start the healing and recovery process.
2. Technology
Within each school, HHF establishes a computer lab with the needed IT software, hardware and :training in order to create more opportunities for children to have better education and :employment options.
3. Sustainability
HHF aims to create independence through its sustainability initiatives. HHF incubates and :fosters a community-oriented business as a programmatic companion to the new schools, thereby :ensuring a long-term funding stream for the maintenance and development of the school, and, by extension, the community.

Program Results[edit]

Globally, HHF is active in nine countries and has built/rebuilt 89 schools and kindergartens. Since inception their programs have benefited more than 46,000 children and 490,000 community members. [3]

Recent operations[edit]

On April 8, 2010, HHF took part in a special forum on the Millennium Development Goals with the US Chamber BCLC at the United Nations. [1]

HHF and joint venture partner ING Bank celebrated the opening of the Arcadio Zentella school in Villahermosa, Mexico on March 30, 2010 that they rebuilt after it was destroyed in the area's flooding in 2007. This marks the first school in Mexico to be part of the Sustainable Schools Program.

On December 15, 2009, HHF Founder and Chair, Petra Nemcova, and former Executive Director, Phillip Caputo, launched the “Bring Happiness Back!” campaign at the United Nations to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami, which struck on December 26, 2004. That same day, Nemcova and Caputo also participated in the closing bell ceremonies at NASDAQ where the “Bring Happiness Back!” Campaign was also highlighted.[2]

The “Bring Happiness Back!” Campaign's goal is to raise awareness about the plight of children in natural disasters, especially those children who are forgotten and caught in the "gap period," between first response and full recovery.

The initial objective of the “Bring Happiness Back!” Campaign was to directly assist children affected by the September 2009 earthquake in West Java, Indonesia. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, HHF expanded the focus of the Bring Happiness Back! Campaign to support the children of Haiti as well.

HHF’s work was highlighted as part of an ABC World News and Good Morning America feature story in December 2009 with ABC correspondent, David Muir.[3]

In February 2014 Happy Hearts Fund began a partnership with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. Together they are hosting a contest on prizeo.com [4] that enters contestants to win a behind the scenes trip with SI Swimsuit. The winner and a guest will be flown from wherever they are to the location of the 2015 photo shoot and be given exclusive behind the scenes access. The more money you donate to Happy Hearts Fund, the more entries will be earned into the contest. Higher donations also will receive SI Swimsuit themed rewards and prizes.


External links[edit]