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I Did the Best I Could…is a complete sentence!

I will never meet many of you, which is ok with me…I am a nameless & faceless voice. A person behind a computer screen, sitting at a keyboard, sharing words, some of them are mine, some of them are yours. These are my words, however I believe that they represent the feelings of many.

I keep asking myself the same question, are we doing enough? I don’t know the answer to that, I suppose if I did, I would stop asking. I am not looking for a pat on the back, an acknowledgment of my personal efforts, or the efforts put forth by the amazing team of people around us. They are doing a wonderful job!

There are several distinct sets of needs, the immediate relief needs, the long term recovery needs, the personal needs which include making certain our island homes and the people we love in the community are cared for and safe, and then there are the needs of our individual selves. I don’t know about anyone else out there, but I can speak for me, I wasn’t emotionally prepared for this, I really don’t know how anyone could have been. Finding a balance between all of those needs has been one of the most challenging aspects of the past 8 days. As I look back at the recent days, I see miracles, brilliant flashes of light across a very dark and barren landscape. I have been party to conversations which are way above my pay grade, yet I have had an opportunity to share and be of service in the capacity I could.

The immediate relief needs (that was the first time I have spelled relief correctly since the storm hit) of the residents of our little island are being met, through the hard work and dedication of the team on the ground in Philadelphia working under Virgin Islands Relief Fund, as well as countless donations from our Amazon Wishlist, and many unnamed volunteers pouring themselves into love and service for the Virgin Islands.

When the topic shifts to long term recovery, the world becomes an overwhelming place. Where do we even begin? The establishment of power and communications requires teams of people trained in this, it requires real capital, millions of dollars not thousands, it requires people who know what they are doing! I’m just a barefoot kid from the Northside of St Thomas, most afternoons you can find me in a hammock at Hull Bay waiting on the sun to set…I know nothing about restoring power grids, or setting up temporary communications outlets. But, despite that fact, I find myself in some of the most auspicious of conversations. I have talked with people about chartered boats, private jets, cargo ships, as I talk to each of them, I find my role…I connect people, I always have, I become a hub to connect resources with needs, a batch of supplies here needs a ride to there and I know about both of these things. I have done nothing, but at the same time I have done something. It’s a beautiful thing.

The greatest of miracles I have personally witnessed has been watching the network of people, some I know only by a phone number, begin to reach out to help our individual friends and loved ones! People I have never met, offered planes and boats to aid people they don’t know! Slowly the people we care for are finding safety! But there are these times when I ask myself, did I do enough? Did I try hard enough to get them out of there? Was there a time that they wondered if they had been forgotten?

Lastly, and perhaps most important in all of this is self care…a gentle reminder to myself and others that we have all suffered a tremendous loss, we have experienced a trauma such that most of us have never experienced before and likely will never experience again. Our lives have been forever altered, our homes and livelihoods have been lost. We turn first to help others, because that’s what the helpers do! It’s a selfless job, to give of yourself to others, and a commendable one at that! But please, to each of you out there pouring ourselves into helping, remember this, take care of yourself so that you have the ability to be present and clear minded for the people who are counting on us! What have you done for you today?

I have words, that’s what I have, the voice is meant to spread a message of hope and of enduring love for the community of the Virgin Islands!

-Virgin Islander

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