Get Bill Stelzer Back Into His Home

William (Bill) Stelzer is a 25-year resident of St. John USVI. On September 6th, he survived hurricane Irma. By trade, Bill is an amazing freelance photographer, graphic designer and filmmaker specializing in digital media. His work has captured hearts and won awards and much of what he does, he does gratis. If you know Bill, chances are he’s been there for you as well. He is our brother; he is our son; he is our friend.

This GoFundMe campaign exists because family and friends have asked, "How can I help?" We thought this would be an simple method for those who want to give, as well as a place to share updates. 

Bill in front of lower level 'apartment' post Irma

What happened to Bill
As many of you know, Irma ripped through St. John as a category 5 hurricane with record-breaking winds. When things got very bad, Bill took shelter in a small closet. He wrote:

“I spent the worst of it in my closet downstairs... Even though the closet door also broke off and I was directly exposed to the hurricane for the rest of the storm, I was in a strange bubble of calm. It seemed almost kinda miraculous. Which is why again I wanted to thank everyone for your thoughts and prayers.”

 While Bill survived the hurricane unscathed, the house and many of his possessions did not.

South Side of House.

Though the Gift Hill house sits 800 feet above sea level, almost every possession was soaked in seawater, including the items carefully wrapped or bagged in plastic that weren’t sucked out of the house around him.

"At 200 miles per hour, seawater finds a way."

He has begun the slow and overwhelming process of salvage and cleanup and unfortunately has found that many of his possessions are damaged or destroyed. Working alone, without electricity and little access to modern convienences, 'Swiss Family Robinson' style, has made a difficult task next to impossible.

View of cabin from 'kitchen'

For now, Bill has moved into the small cabin somehow still standing on the property. It will take some time before he can once again generate a regular income. His renter’s insurance will cover only a fraction of what needs to be replaced. The future for him and the house on Gift Hill is uncertain.

What Bill Needs
Just about everything.  His first wish list included energy bars and a water filter. The emergency generator on the property was soaked in seawater and appears to be unsalvageable, so a new one is also a priority. A few hours of electricity a day would be very helpful.

At this time we are focusing on short-term immediate needs.

1) Funds to help pay for food and monthly bills etc. while only partial income is possible.

2) Funds to replace computer/work equipment damaged by hurricane Irma, and not covered by renter’s insurance.

3) Funds to cover the repair of the lower Level “apartment” and make it habitable. This includes electrical work, foundation work, doors, windows and furniture etc.

4) Funds to help with salvage and removal of debris.

5) Some money, if available, may go toward paying for airline tickets for people able to donate time for heavy lifting as well as technical expertise.

Garage (vehicle pulled from inside was okay)

Where will your money go?
·    Money raised will go towards Bill’s basic living expenses first. It’s a difficult dollar amount to quantify but approximately $500 per month through March is the plan. Total $3000.

·    Next we will try to cover his losses both personal and business approximately $5000 not covered by insurance.

·    Additional money will go toward hurricane cleanup and making a habitable space for him in the apartment (lower level) that is still standing though damaged, approximately $8000.

$16,000 total is a very general, ballpark, amount but seemed to us a good place to start. As we get better information on the cost of work and replacement items, we will update/adjust that goal.

Aerial image GIS Before                  NOAA image After.

Thank You So Much 
We appreciate your words, thoughts, prayers, and assistance. In the next month or two, as our specific needs become clearer, we will provide contact information for anyone interested in providing labor-intensive or skilled work.

Thank You Thank You. Really we can't thank you enough.

 Bill did not ask for this GoFundMe page. (In fact he’s still uncomfortable being on the receiving end.) We set this up because there is a real need and we know so many people care and want to help. We hope it’s the right way to handle this. We welcome your comments and questions and will try to respond to them as quickly as we can. Please bear with us though; this has been a difficult time for the whole family.

Before                                                                                   After

Many have asked: Will you rebuild the Gift Hill house? We don’t yet know. Since the mid 1990s the house had been made available as an opportunity for friends and family to experience the beauty of the island in an amazing location for an affordable price.  It was never intended as a commercial or money making venture. That affordable price meant there was no money in the account for anything more than upkeep. Hurricane insurance and rebuilding costs were not included. In the next months we will look at the cost of rebuilding and all of our options and post our plans and hopes for the Gift Hill property.

 Thank you.

 Upstairs Before                                        Upstairs After

 View from deck Before                 View from deck After

St. John before and hopefully, once again, some day soon.

A little more about Bill

We mentioned that the list of individuals and groups Bill has given his given his time and or photo/video expertise to is long. Here are just a few.



Children of the Word Foundation

St. John Kids And The Sea

Dancing Classrooms

St. John Carnival

St. John School of the Arts

Friends of the National Park

8 Tuff Miles

Archeology in the Park with Ken Wild 

Waveplace Video

KATS - Kids And The Sea

Bill On Motorbike - Haiti                 Photo By Lau Rey

Mercy&Sharing                          Photo by William Stelzer

Mercy&Sharing                                  Photo by William Stelzer

OLPC - Jamaica                                  Photo by William Stelzer

OLPC - Jamaica                                  Photo by William Stelzer

OLPC - Jamaica                                  Photo by William Stelzer

Willaim Stelzer in action:

William Stelzer                                        Photo by Fiona Russel

Just Play                                               Photo by William Torrillo

Willaim Stelzer - Long day in Haiti

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Jean Stelzer 
Cruz Bay, United States Virgin Islands
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