ReVIve the V.I.
My name is Kelsey and I have been visiting and living in the Virgin Islands( St.Thomas specifically) for the past 12 years. First arriving to the islands to work on charter boats, I fell in love with everything about the place....its beautiful scenery, culture, beaches, people, etc. How could you not! From then on, I was hooked on coming back and eventually decided I would make a life in the Caribbean. Fast forward a few years and I have become completely invested in these islands and their people. If we only knew what was coming...
The video attached is only the beginning of the footage of devastation that has hit the Virgin Islands from Hurricane Irma. As the days go on, more tragedy will ensue. Before Irma had begun to form, I took a vacation back to the states to visit family for a few weeks. Little did I know I would be 1,500 miles away from my home, 3 boats, dog, and island family when a category 5 hurricane would tear through our tiny island chain destroying everything in its path. The feeling of being so far away when something so terrible is happening to your loved ones is indescribable. However, with the island out of power, cell towers down and no way to communicate...maybe the reason for me being stateside is to start spreading the word and getting support sooner. When hurricane Maryland hit the islands in 1995, power was out for 6 months, supplies for rebuild were near impossible to get, food and water wasn't able to get to the island. It took over 10 years to bounce back. This devastation is even worse. I am asking for funds to help get supplies back to anyone on the island who needs them. This money will go towards reviving and rebuilding an entire community and island currently in shambles. With our main source of income being tourism completely wiped out for an unforeseen amount of time, we will need monetary help. With this money I plan to get all necessary items that the community cannot get there. I will be flying with whatever I can fit in bags with me and my boyfriend will be doing the same. We have other friends willing to do so as well. So the more we can raise, the more supplies I can go down with and send others with. If we raise more and more I will spend it on building materials, food, medicine, etc. Whatever my friends and community needs.
The USVI are a chain of United States territories that are often forgot about, but known as "America's Paradise". Please help raise money to getting this stunning island and its residents back on its (bare)feet. :)
As my GoFundMe states, this money will be going to my friends and neighbors to help them get back up on their feet and rebuild. This was not to give food and water to help the short term visitors who would later pack up and leave the islands. FEMA and other government agencies have that covered :)
One of the major uses of funds was to cover the costs for a shipping container. My friend Colleen and I sent the address for the container to those who had friends and family on Water Island and St.Thomas. We decided to keep it controlled due to the funds we had at the time. Reason that it has taken some time to do this was because cargo ships just recently were OK'd to leave and make it to St.Thomas. We figured this was the best use of our money because more people could benefit from using the container and supplies could be sent most effectively.
Miraculously, Dogsled (the boat my boyfriend and I bought in April to run fishing/snorkel charters), was spared in both Irma and Maria. We have been using the boat for relief and humanitarian efforts. Some of the funds have been used to cover gas costs.
In addition, I used my money to adopt a marina and its workers to send supplies to. The workers here are local families who have lived in the islands for generations and have no where else to go. I am in the marina almost everyday and these individuals put a smile on my face daily. Many have lost their homes and are struggling to feed themselves/ families. Supplies will be given to them and also to the community on Water Island. So far I have purchased;
-portable/battery powered fans
-contractor trash bags
-environmentally safe mosquito spray and dunks
-car cell phone chargers
-NOAA emergency weather stations (for cellphone charging, AM/FM radio and room filling light)
-a new tent for Heidi's Honeymoon Grill
-Dr.Bronner's 18 in 1 soap (can be used for toothpaste, detergent, shampoo, disinfectant, etc)
- ReVIve t-shirts (shirts Colleen and I designed for the campaign to raise awareness and funds go back into getting more supplies) https://smile.amazon.com/Revive-Virgin-Islands-T-Shirt-Heather/dp/B075L146BG/ref=sr_1_1?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1507033074&sr=1-1&nodeID=7141123011&psd=1
- room fresheners (its going to be smelly!)
- cell phone power banks
- flameless battery powered candles
These are all items I thought would make a big difference to those in need. As time goes on there will be grocery stores and other big businesses opening, but items will be scarce and power will most likely be out for homes for months. I will continue to use the funds to directly benefit those who have made their life in the islands and have no where else to go. I will be heading down to the islands tomorrow (Oct 4th). While there I will be giving out the supplies, figuring out what other needs people have and rebuilding. I was one who had lost their entire home- so unsure of what my path looks like. All I know is that the islands are my home and I will be sticking through all of this to see it better than it ever was before :)
I will do my best to update this page with photos of what good this has done, but may be a while until we have service down there to do so. Thank you all again for your continued generosity and support!!!