$977,205 of $1.0M goal

Raised by 7,612 people in 6 months

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Vieques and caused wide-spread damage and destruction, leaving its residents without water, electricity or communication abilities. Electricity is not expected to return to the island until 2018 and water is not flowing consistently. The hospital has been condemned and the schools are currently not operational. The situation is still dire.

 This fund was started with the intent to provide support in whatever way possible to help the island to recover and to have a more sustainable future.  Our first priority was to communicate with people on the island by sending satellite phones in by a private plane. This communication led to the stark realization that help was not coming fast enough. ViequesLove would need to step into the role of providing immediate relief until federal aid arrived. 

Accomplishments to date:


• Utilized satellite phones to establish communication between key local entities; hospital, police, airport and team leaders on and off the island.

• Delivered a satellite phone by boat to Culebra.

• Set up call center to allow Vieques residents to call loved ones.

Media and Government Outreach

• Mounted a national media campaign to bring attention to the plight of Vieques. Vieques has been featured on CNN, NBC Nightly, CBS, Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Washington Post and many other news outlets across the country and globe.  

• Lobbied key legislators to provide more aid to Vieques and rally against the Jones Act

• Lobbied key government officials to bring more aid to Vieques and recently requested information on the relief and recovery plan from the Federal Coordinating Officer for Puerto Rico.


• Filled private planes landing directly on Vieques in the first two weeks after the storm with baby supplies, food, medicine, and other needed supplies.

•  Provided immediate support to police department to fill vehicles with gas

• Shipments of food distributed to Corefi, Departemento de Familia, and Alianza Cristiana y Misionera Vieques, the Boys and Girls Club

• Donation made to Banco de Aliamentos de PR so that they could continue to serve their Vieques and Puerto Rico clients.

• Worked with former NY Governor Pataki, the Governor’s office and other organizations to locate gas and diesel to bring to the island during the first few weeks after the storm.

Life Saving Needs

• Provided the hospital with enough medicine to establish the first free pharmacy at the hospital in 30 years.

• Distributed 73 in-kind solar generators to residents with critical medical needs requiring power

• Lobbied Senator Bennie Thompson for new generator purchase for hospital.

• Leveraged an evacuation triage system with the Red Cross to evacuate many critical needs patients including cancer, dialysis, and other medically fragile patients.

• Funded transportation for 13 dialysis patients from Vieques to San Juan 

•  Purchased additional generators for residents with medical needs


• Purchased and delivered critically needed generator parts for the Water Treatment Plant to prevent sewage back-ups in the streets of Vieques.


• Supported Eva Bolivar, Jose Andres and Chefs of Puerto Rico to provide meals to Vieques

• Supported Claritza Navarro and her M&M Construction team to clean-up and rebuild SunBay to encourage the return of tourism after the water and food situation has stabilized.

• Funded generator technicians to come to the island to evaluate and service the 22 generators running critical infrastructure services, like the water pumps and water sanitation plants.

ViequesLove is partnering with nonprofits across Vieques, as well as the coalition of government agencies, to meet the needs of the people of Vieques. Because ViequesLove was born in crisis and continues to operate in emergency situations, our future is unclear. To fund these efforts and related missions, ViequesLove is using the money donated to this GoFundMe by our overwhelmingly generous donors. Any funds left over after relief operations have ceased will be dedicated to creating a more sustainable future for Vieques.

ViequesLove is under the fiscal sponsorship of COREFI, a registered 501c3 organization, that has been providing relief to at-risk citizens of Vieques, long before Maria struck Vieques. Due to the scope of the project minor administration fees have been necessary. All team members are unpaid volunteers.

We want to give a heartfelt thank you to our donors. You have made many things possible on Vieques and have given many people hope. The love for Vieques is true, steady and most of all, unconditional. We thank you and continue to work for you and our island home.

This fund was created by:
Kelly Thompson, editor and publisher of Vieques Insider Magazine
Szaritza Yamira, FEMA/HUD Disaster Relief Specialist
Sharon Pepin, grant writer and administrator

The fund is administered by:
Kelly Thompson

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ViequesLove can’t thank you enough for your donations that helped so many people on the island. ViequesLove will continue to work for the island and update you on exciting initiatives that YOU can help be a part of. We are working on a website to provide more information and transparency so you know what your dollars have accomplished already and what we hope to achieve in the future! Our goal is to unite, not to divide, and collaboration with all of the organizations on the island is the key to a stronger community.

As you know, our fiscal sponsor is COREFI, Concerned Residents for Improvement, a humanitarian registered federal 501c3 doing incredible work for the underserved on Vieques. If you donated before March 15th, your tax receipt email will arrive today, March 20th. New donors will receive their tax receipts in the next batch. Thank you for your dedication and love for Vieques!
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I would like to take a moment of your time to let you know what happens behind the scenes of ViequesLove because it is the key to making a better tomorrow for the community. It is about collaborating, communicating and cultivating the relationships and connections that pull us together and make us a stronger more resilient community. Mark Martin Bras is hugely responsible for making so many things happen to better the community and in a time frame that stops the suffering. In one day alone, Mark could have a meeting with Prepa, Tesla, a school administrator, grant writers, the water company, and hospital personnel. In one day. He also continues his incredible work as the Director of Community Relations and Field Research with the Conservation & Historical Trust and, after a day of meetings will be out on the Bioluminescent Bay on any given night, testing the dinoflagelate count. The man is a true community man, a true ecologist, a visionary leader and I am certainly proud to work beside him. --Kelly Thompson
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from Kelly Thompson

When starting ViequesLove last September, we had no idea that our family of supporters would grow to become so many and would provide so much. What you have done for the people of Vieques has literally saved lives and we thank you!

ViequesLove was formed literally overnight when Hurricane Maria ravaged the island. In the states friends who had all lived on Vieques or were off island visiting relatives, came together. We were aware of the enormous impact the storm would have all too familiar with the fragile infastructure of the island.

Simultaneously, on Vieques, our friends were rapidly organizing an emergency rescue team. T​hey ​took action within hours to secure the island​ and meet the immediate critical needs​.

But most importantly, YOU, our donors, were showing the island that you cared. You provided a lifeline of support that enabled us to make what needed to be done a reality. When we were able to connect via satellite phone with our group on Vieques, meaningful funds were already in place for us to provide life saving, immediate assistance.

We all went to work for Vieques and haven’t stopped since September 20th, 2017.

Five months later, we are cautiously beginning to feel more confident that we’re coming out of the emergency operations stage of our work. The most immediate humanitarian and medical needs have been somewhat alleviated, but not eliminated!

To be clear, Vieques is not recovered. It still does not have infrastructure for real electricity and only portions of the island have energy supplied by temporary large generators. There remains a vital need for more services, medicine and supplies and to help those who cannot help themselves.

The next recovery phase must include strategies for making Vieques more resilient and less dependent on the main island of Puerto Rico. These strategies must make provisions to welcome back some portion of the tourist infrastructure for its economic sustainability, and it must reestablish the education and enrichment opportunities for children, while also bolstering the law enforcement and health system in place. Finally it must recognize the economic disparity between the deeply poor, elderly, and disabled and the second home and tourist community -- and make sure both are served justly and thoroughly.

ViequesLove is now in the process of carefully restructuring to start a new chapter in our organization. In considering the best prospects for our future, we would like to continue to work for the Vieques community as a non-profit focused on community development programs and fostering collaboration with many of the other hardworking groups dedicated to Vieques.

We will prioritize and focus on projects that have a long-term sustainable impact and that protect and preserve the natural environment and cultural backbone that Vieques is known and cherished for.

We appreciate your support as we transition into this new exciting (and incredibly daunting) phase. We know how much you care about preserving the magic, culture and ecology of Vieques, so please know how sincerely we welcome your questions, comments and suggestions.

There are so many members of the ViequesLove team that have worked tirelessly and selflessly for the past five months, dedicating the majority of their day to volunteering and saving the island. We will eventually introduce these heroes, our VL warriors, to each and everyone of you.

For now, I would like to give you a stronger sense of myself and introduce you to my incredible working partner on the ground, Mark Martin Bras. There is really no way to describe how instrumental Mark has been behind the scenes in rebuilding the community, focusing communication, and fostering collaboration between all entities working for Vieques. Mark has helped ViequesLove achieve the exceptional levels of success we have to date.

Allow me to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves in the attached video:

Looking ahead…
ViequesLove is currently operating under the fiscal sponsorship of Corefi, a humanitarian 501c3 here on Vieques doing incredible work. Please note, you will receive your tax exempt receipt in the coming weeks from Corefi.

As we evolve into a more formally structured organization, I promise all our donors and supporters we will be communicating out to you on a more consistent basis. It took awhile to build enough of a foundation around ViequesLove to allow us a bit more objectivity and time to report back on the hard work our team has been immersed in – and the strategies for the work ahead of us.
Thank you once again for your powerful support and your undying love of our unique Isla Neña – there would be no ViequesLove without you.


These are just some ViequesLove accomplishments you helped us achieve:
• Supplied gas for emergency & police vehicles
• Purchased gas for private flights delivering supplies
• Supplied food & water to community groups distributing across the island.
• Financially supported Generation Gives who supplied satellite wifi, allowing critical food stamp and ATM systems to function
• Attracted more media attention to Vieques
• Supplied medicine to the hospital
• Supplied health & hygiene products to the elderly and infirmed
• Purchased insulin coolers for diabetics
• Supplied 73 in-kind solar generators to sick and elderly patients requiring life support medical machinery
• Supplied 60 gas generators to needy residents or those requiring medical machinery
• Purchased exit flights for patients in dire medical need
• Purchased flights for dialysis patients to receive treatment in Puerto Rico
• Purchased parts to connect generators to gas supply
• Funded generator technicians, labor & parts keeping critical generators on the island running
• Purchased parts & oil to keep critical larger scale generators running
• Supplied numerous solar lights, tarps, tents, solar radios, and water filters
• Collaborated with other nonprofits to obtain generators, supplies, solar equipment, medicines, water filters and critical volunteers to the island.
• Purchased lights to be installed on the Pier and Cayo to ensure the safety of vessels traveling at night.
• Purchased equipment to supply internet in schools to assist teachers and administrators
• Purchased new mattresses to replace water damaged & moldy mattresses
• Provided ongoing support to groups supplying daily hot meals & food to barrios in need
• Purchased building supplies for homes in dire need and collaborated with volunteers to help those who could not help themselves.
• Became the community liason providing behind the scenes support and intel to alleviate problems before they arose or provide a solution or support immediately.

Kelly Thompson and Mark Martin Bras
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Update from Oct 15th in Spanish-Part 2

Simultáneamente, estábamos respondiendo a las necesidades comunicadas por el equipo en el terreno, y la logística era a veces sumamente compleja. Como muchos de ustedes ya saben, ya es difícil transportar artículos a Vieques cuando las cosas son normales, pero hacerlo después de la devastación del huracán fue algo casi imposible. Pero lo pudimos hacer.

Sin embargo, a pesar del caos nuestro equipo formuló los siguientes principios y planes de acción:

· Montar una campaña de RP completa para atraer la atención de los medios de comunicación a Vieques. El grupo sabía que necesitaríamos la ayuda de los medios de comunicación nacionales para presionar a la administración de Trump a incluir a Vieques en la recuperación de Puerto Rico. Los voluntarios enviaron comunicados de prensa, dieron entrevistas, ayudaron a facilitar el transporte de reporteros a la isla y fueron muy agresivos en su búsqueda de la historia.

· Priorizar vuelos directos a Vieques. Poco después de la tormenta, el gobernador de Puerto Rico firmó una orden ejecutiva que permitía al gobierno redirigir la ayuda que llegaba a la isla a su discreción. Para asegurar que los envíos de ViequesLove llegaran directamente a Vieques y no a otros lugares, priorizamos vuelos directos a Vieques excluyendo aquellos que llevaban cargas a la isla grande.
· Evitar que los aviones llegaran vacíos a Vieques. Varias familias fletaron aviones para transportar a sus seres queridos de Vieques y nos permitieron llenar los aviones con carga. A pesar de que el volumen de las cargas era modesto en comparación con la gran necesidad de la isla, lo que esos aviones llevaron en los primeros momentos garantizó que algunos suministros médicos y otros artículos críticos comenzaran a llegar a la isla.

· Aprovechar los donativos de artículos recibidos de otras fuentes antes de gastar el dinero de nuestros donantes. A pesar de que en ViequesLove no hemos tenido la capacidad de distribución para recolectar y enviar donaciones de ropa, productos enlatados y otros suministros, hemos aceptado generosos regalos de fundaciones, organizaciones de socorro, compañías de suministros médicos, pilotos y ciudadanos preocupados. Seguiremos priorizando el aprovechamiento de estas oportunidades en conjunto con las inversiones monetarias que estamos haciendo en la isla.

· Colaborar con grupos comunitarios basados en Vieques e invertir recursos localmente para apoyar la economía de la isla. Rápidamente nos dimos cuenta de la importancia de trabajar y apoyar a los grupos comunitarios locales que ya han establecido redes de voluntarios. En el futuro, es importante para nosotros que, en la medida de lo posible, trabajemos para distribuir nuestras contribuciones localmente a la economía de la isla.

· Evitar tomar decisiones basadas en rumores o en imágenes de vídeo filmadas en la isla grande. Nos hemos dado cuenta que los temores y rumores que circulan en los medios sociales no deben informar nuestras decisiones sobre cómo gastar los fondos o identificar las necesidades en el terreno. Con este fin, contamos con un equipo de absoluta confianza en el terreno en el cual nos seguiremos apoyando para tomar decisiones.

Ninguno de nosotros en el equipo de ViequesLove se despertó el 20 de septiembre de 2017 sabiendo que en menos de 24 horas nos convertiríamos en guardianes voluntarios, con la enorme reponsabilidad que nos ha dado el voto de confianza de todos ustedes. Dicho esto, estamos orgullosos y entusiasmados de cumplir con este papel y nos estamos tomamos muy en serio esta responsabilidad. Es de vital importancia tomar decisiones acertadas con nuestros recursos y actuar con rapidez para tener el impacto deseado en la isla. No todo el mundo estará de acuerdo con las prioridades que fijamos, pero, por favor, confíen en que estamos tomando decisiones muy bien informadas.

A pesar de nuestras buenas intenciones, no les hemos proporcionado actualizaciones con la frecuencia que esperábamos pero planeamos mejorar esto y compartir nuestros éxitos y próximos pasos de manera más regular. A nivel personal (porque a fin de cuentas, todo esto es personal para todos nosotros), quiero dar las gracias a todos los que me han preguntado por mi hija, Sky. La nena ha mostrado una valentía increíble, adaptándose bien a una nueva escuela y a su vida aquí en Pensilvania por el momento. Claro que echa de mucho de menos a su papá, su hogar y a su familia isleña tanto como yo y esperamos volver pronto. También agradezco muchísimo el interés mostrado por mi padre quien, en medio de todo esto, tuvo una operación quirúrgica de emergencia la semana pasada.

Mi confianza en el equipo de ViequesLove es absoluta. Su amor y devoción al pueblo de Vieques es incuestionable y evidente. Mi corazón está con todo el equipo, que incansablemente ha seguido hacia adelante con fuerza y energía– y especialmente a los miembros del equipo en Vieques por trabajar en tan duras circunstancias, Mark Martin y Robert Becker. Su compromiso desinteresado de hacer siempre lo correcto me inspira y me llena de humildad. Confío totalmente en ustedes dos.

Pero lo más importante es que sepan los donantes y voluntarios que apoyan nuestros esfuerzos y otros esfuerzos en el terreno, que seguiremos adelante trabajando de corazón en las prioridades y los intereses de nuestra isla.

En ViequesLove, Kelly
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$977,205 of $1.0M goal

Raised by 7,612 people in 6 months
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