Like many other people, Junior lost everything this past week. Winds reached 185mph when Hurricane Irma hit his home on Turks and Caicos Island.
What remains of his house is a skeleton of a former home. A lone stove stands where his kitchen used to be. Framework shows the outline of past walls and roof. A bed stands among debris of his fallen house.
Junior is only 20 years old and has worked very hard for everything he has. His mom died from cancer three years ago, and his sister is his only remaining family on the island.
Junior is the kind of person you just want to be around. When we first met him two years ago at his job, a jet ski rental shop, we knew Junior was a kind and generous person, an all around good guy. On our many visits to the island, we’ve gotten to know him well, inviting him over for family dinners, playing pool, and playing with the kids at the beach. He’s the first to tell us about secret beach spots and drive us into town to go to the store.
When news first hit that Hurricane Irma was heading his way, we sent him a family video, telling him we were thinking about him. Always optimistic, he said he missed us and would see us in a couple of weeks. Then, on Thursday we texted him. No word. Again on Friday. No word. Finally, on Saturday we heard from him. “Everything went so bad for me,” he texted. “No house, nothing. But I’m ok. No signal here. I just found a lil wifi. It was so terrible for me. Couldn’t reach you guys.” He was able to send the above video.
Junior has a long road ahead of him in rebuilding his home. We’d like to help him in any way we can. If you’ve ever visited Turks and Caicos, you’ve probably met him, too. He might have rented you jet skis for the day. Maybe you’ve heard one of his stories that always ends in hysterical laughter that’ll make you giggle years later every time you think about it. Or maybe he’s given you a hand drawn map of “a place you have to see” that only locals know about, too. Or perhaps he’s, too, has pulled your kids around on a water tube he borrowed from his friend so your kids could have the time of their lives.
Because if you’ve met him, he’d be just as near and dear to your hearts, too.
Thank You All!!
I know he will really appreciate our help!
- Dante Pena
- Nicole Volp
- Jennifer Leigh
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