Thank you to the boat captains, the linemen, the cooks, the cleaners, the fuel delivery people, the pilots, the planes, the scores of people who just worked…we appreciate you, you came when we called, you gave everything you had, and then some, and your efforts have not gone unnoticed!
It was late March…I was standing in a kitchen in Northstar village, talking with a dear friend about Marilyn, about the conditions following that storm, about the rebuilding efforts, ominously he said to me, “I feel it, this is our year, we have been lucky, but I just know this is our year, I can feel it in my bones”.
I left island on at the beginning of August, returning to the states to take care of my family and my business…it wasn’t long before those chilling words from that night began to haunt me.
This isn’t a story about me, this is a story of how a small island community, held together by threads known only to those who have lived there, held together in a time when everything was falling apart. It’s a story about the countless numbers of people, most of who will forever remain anonymous, who in times of great need, did the extraordinary. There aren’t words to describe the countless selfless acts I have been witness to over the last 6 weeks.
It was mere days after Irma struck the island, leaving behind her a wake of destruction that will not soon be forgotten, that a group of citizens began to use their private planes to fly in much needed medical supplies, search and rescue teams, food, water, and generators. Loosely held together by a string of text messages, they worked tirelessly to shepherd a weary flock. Day in and day out, they flew in the very life blood of the islands, then they flew out the most desperate of those on island. I know most of them simply by tail numbers, or cell phone numbers which can’t be saved because they have no name attached to them.
Simultaneously, several other efforts sprung up, a small group of St John residents began to collect supplies, and money. Working 20 hour days out of a small office at an airport in Pennsylvania, Matt and Jesse formed what we now know as Virgin Island Relief Fund . Dedicated to providing long term relief to the Virgin Islands.
I remember the night that my phone rang at 1am, and the founders of Adopt a Family USVI, wanted to talk. They had a solution to a problem, they were to crowdsource boxes of relief supplies for individuals and families across the region. I remember thinking, this will never work, they will never get those boxes to the people who need them. I was wrong, through their hard work and perseverance, they landed thousands of Large Flat Rate boxes of relief supplies across the territories. They solved the problems that seemed overwhelming to me, and brought in much needed aid.
Meanwhile, on island, the fine folks at My Brother’s Workshop, began serving as many hot meals a day as they could. Hundreds turned into thousands, they were feeding a community that had nothing! They continue their work, rebuilding the island, one meal, and one roof at a time. They need our help, please visit their page and donate what you can!
The Family Resource center, backed by donations from private citizens across the country and around the world, have been stocking donation distribution sites for weeks, getting much needed supplies in the hands of those on island who have very little! Teams of volunteers continue to pour everything they have into giving back to our small island community.
The list goes on, there are hundreds if not thousands of these stories, a volume could be written on each…but amongst these there stands out the anonymous souls, those who asked for no recognition, no applause, no pat on the back. You are the angels among us, they are likely working right beside you. You know who you are, and from a grateful island, thank you!!!