Helping Heartbeats

Helping Heartbeats

From Niki Holloway Dawson

Hurricane Maria destroyed towns, jobs, belongings and even hope. But it also created many things: resolve, commitment, compassion, generosity and unexpected friendships.

Support this campaign

Subscribe to follow campaign updates!

More Info

A chance sighting of an emaciated horse led our team to a very special woman who lost almost EVERYTHING during Maria’s wrath on the Island, everything except her desire to ensure her beloved dogs’ survival.

Meet Nayda: very humble, resilient and compassionate woman, a retired Judge, cancer survivor, widow, and a fiercely independent and tired woman. 

As our team was carrying out projects in Puerto Rico we stopped to offer water and food to an emaciated and very out of place looking horse in a vacant lot. We noticed dogs that appeared well cared for in the yard of the house across the street, and we decided to ask some questions about the horse. We knocked on the door of the house with the dogs and it was clear no one was home at the moment. It was also very obvious that Hurricane Maria had wreacked havoc here.  The house was in very poor shape with broken fences, debris and a destroyed vehicle in the yard. We left a note to offer to help the horse if they needed it.


The resident’s return phone call to us reduced the team to tears and we began to fall in love with this brave survivor. We learned about her survival on the second floor of her house with her dogs through the storms as seawater claimed her possessions, living without electricity or running water for 8 months, struggling to make doctor’s appointments since the storms claimed her vehicle, the loneliness she has faced since the passing of her beloved husband 15 years ago and the financial devastation that came from the collapse of 3 of the largest financial institutions in Puerto Rico, taking all of her retirement funds.

As she told us her story with her tired and shaking voice, she kept repeating “I’ve been praying for something, I’ve been praying every day and then I saw your note”. She told us since she saw the note she slept better then she had in months and even if we never met she believed the note we left tied to her gate in red ribbon was an answer to her prayers letting her know she is not alone and to keep fighting.


This is where life changes for the better for Nayda. Our team purchased 200 lbs of dog food and 100 lbs of horse food. We are committed to helping this woman who gave so much back to the community, who has cared for countless stray and unwanted animals, a woman who could be any one of us, someone who has had life change in an instant by mere chance. Our team has committed to providing to Nayda the basics that will enable her to live a comfortable life with something other than a donated mattress and refrigerator, the only items she has in her empty but spotless home.


Please consider helping us help Nayda. We will be repairing her fence to contain her dogs, we will attempt to find a reasonably priced used car, as well as provide her dogs with basic medical care including vaccinates and sterilization, a proper bed for Nayda, and other necessities that will enable her to focus on her health and her dogs.  Please consider helping us help this magnificent woman and her pets. 

Campaign Wall

Join the Conversation

Sign in with your Facebook account or

Help Niki raise $10,000 by making a donation.