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Hurricane Irma Relief- Alesia & Mat

$39,310 of $35,000 goal

Raised by 152 people in 20 months
Created September 14, 2017
My good friends Alesia Georgiou and Mathayom Vacharat live on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Despite efforts to leave the island before Hurricane Irma hit, they were not able to book a flight anywhere on the eastern seabord before the storm. Then, over the course of a day on September 6th, Irma completely destroyed the life they had spent years building.

Alesia's Description of Irma's Destructive Power:

As a result of the storm, Alesia's home sustained major damage, and Mat's home has been wiped out completely.

Mat's Home (Post-Irma):

On top of this, Mat is an entrepreneur and renowned private chef on the island, and he runs his business out of Windy Level, his professional kitchen and event space. These facilities were also completely leveled.

Windy Level, Mat's Professional Kitchen and Event Space (Post-Irma):
Click here for more information on Mat's catering business and Windy Level

Not only have their homes been destroyed, but both of their livelihoods depend upon tourism -- so on top of the destruction of their property, it is unlikely they will be able to draw a sustainable income for some time to come.

Alesia and Mat are good, kind, hardworking people. I've known Alesia since 2008 when we were roommates in New York City and have remained friends ever since. My husband and I visited she and Mat in St. John just last year and were awestruck by the beauty of the island. It breaks my heart to know that the life they have built has been utterly destroyed by Irma.

Any assistance you are able to provide would be infinitely appreciated. Your contributions will not only be used to fund the purchase of generators, building materials (basic hardware and tools), and short trips to secure these items, but it will also support their family's living expenses in the coming months before tourism recovers.

All funds raised will be delivered directly to the couple; Alesia has been designated as the sole beneficiary on this GoFundMe account.

Many thanks!

---

GoFundMe has requested that I add a few details about myself (Emily Nakkawita) and my relationship with Alesia & Mat. I met Alesia when I moved to NYC in May 2008, and I still live here today. Alesia and Mat are good friends; I still see Alesia whenever she visits the city (most recently about a month ago) and we spent time with she and Mat when we were in St. John last year.
+ Read More
Hello, and Happy November! This is Alesia again, with another update. We are officially at the end of "Hurricane Season" in the Caribbean, which brings some psychological relief. We still check the weather forecast daily, though with slightly less anxiety than before.

St John is making great strides. As you may have already heard, Cruz Bay had power restored about a week ago. Linemen have come from the States to assist our local power company ("WAPA" ) with repairs. They are working hard, though realistically speaking it will be several months before Coral Bay gets electricity restored.

In other good news, St John is green again, and the beaches are still beautiful. The postal system has resumed operation (though mail delivery is on "extreme island time"), and we have commenced clean up on the kitchen ("Windy Level") and house. There are several restaurants and shops open, and the grocery stores have food on the shelves. We are doing our best to focus on the positive things while the island heals itself.

Mat will be doing a fundraiser dinner this Saturday (November 11th) in New Jersey. All are welcome to attend, please contact us for more information. On Monday he will be heading back to St John once again, bringing more supplies and salvaging whatever is possible from the Windy Level kitchen.

We hope you are well, and we thank you for your support once again.

St John Strong!



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Hello everyone! This is Alesia, with a long overdue update. First, I want to thank you all again for your generosity and support. This has been a difficult transition for us, and your help has made it easier. We appreciate your kindness!

Mat arrived to St John on Monday with our new generator and about 300 pounds of supplies for the island. Kudos to Delta airlines, as they did not charge us anything in terms of baggage fees.

Mat will be on St John for 10 days before returning to the States to celebrate Lyric's (belated) 14th birthday. Lyric has started school in PA, and is settling in well under the circumstances.

While Mat is on St John, he will be salvaging what he can from the kitchen "Windy Level", and he has already completed the FEMA inspection for the house. He's trying to find a trailer to store what he can while we figure out more of what rebuilding will entail.

Communication is still pretty limited from St John, he is able to send a text about once a day. On the bright side, the postal service has started functioning again so we can begin to mail down supplies. Packages may take a year and a day to arrive, but they'll get there eventually.

When Mat returns to the States, he will continue to do the fundraiser dinners in various locations. Proceeds are being split between Mat and various St John / Virgin Islands charities. We've had two excellent dinners so far, and we are hoping to do many more. Please contact us if you would like to host a dinner or if you have a suggestion for an event. We're open to all suggestions.

I will post again once we have more news. Thank you again for your support! It means the world to us.


St John Strong,

Alesia
Coral Bay, one month before Irma
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Fantastic news, everyone -- we have reached our goal! I am blown away by the generosity of this community and can hardly believe we raised over $35,000 in just two weeks.

HUGE thanks to you all. And remember, GoFundMe does not limit us to this total. If you know anyone else who may be interested in donating, please consider sharing further as every dollar, even beyond our $35K goal, will be put to good use.

Love,
Emily
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Hello everyone, this is Alesia. I want to thank you all for your support during this incredibly difficult time.

Mat and Lyric and I have safely evacuated to the States, and Lyric will be starting school here very soon. Our lives have been uprooted, but we are trying to make the best of a difficult situation while we figure out what the next steps are.

Mat will be returning to St John in a couple of weeks to begin the rebuilding process. I will be visiting there periodically to bring supplies and help out where I can.

The photo below is what remains of Mat's house, near Cruz Bay. The entire 3rd level is missing.
Mat's House
+ Read More
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$39,310 of $35,000 goal

Raised by 152 people in 20 months
Created September 14, 2017
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