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ViequesLove

$982,049 of $1.0M goal

Raised by 7,662 people in 8 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:

Communications

• 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.

Supplies/Food/Gasoline

• 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

Water

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

Partnerships/Support

• 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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May 20th marks the eight month anniversary of Hurricane Maria. Over the past eight months, the people of Vieques, Puerto Rico have struggled through one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history and due to its unique logistical challenges, faced one of the longest relief efforts on record. Through all of this, the people have persevered. The community has come together and shown its true strength. There are still many challenges and obstacles to overcome, but the future of Vieques is a shining beacon of hope.

For our supporters, volunteers and advocats, we cannot thank you enough for allowing us the opportunity to support the relief and recovery efforts on Vieques. We know many people are interested in what ViequesLove has done and how we have spent the funds that you graciously donated. We are pleased to provide you with a breakdown of expenditures, and an infographic which highlights just some (not all) of the work we've been able to accomplish thanks to your support. We continue to work daily for Vieques and have a vision of resiliency, unity, strength and harmony within the community working together for a better tomorrow.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Thank you for your support. For your voices. For your donations. For your work behind the scenes. For helping to feed and care for thousands of people. For trusting us as a newly formed organization in the time of crises to provide a helping hand. Your donations saved lives, provided hope, and showed the residents of Vieques that the world was watching and cared. Thank you.

With much love,
ViequesLove

El 20 de mayo marca el aniversario del paso del huracan Maria. En los ultimos ocho meses la poblacion de Vieques ha luchado por recuperase de uno de los peores desastres naturales en la historia de los Estados Unidos. Los retos de logistica han convertido el periodo de esfuerzos de ayuda y recuperacion en uno de los mas largos y lentos de la historia. A pesar de esto, la gente de Vieques ha perseverado. La comunidad se ha unido con una fuerza absoluta y contundente. Hay muchos retos y obstaculos para superar, pero el futuro de Vieques brilla con la luz de la esperanza.

No hay gracias suficientes para dar a nuestro equipo de soporte, voluntarios y los que han abogado para apoyar el esfuerzo humanitario en la isla de Vieques. Estamos concientes que hay mucha gente interesada en saber lo que ha hecho ViequesLove y como se han usado los fondos donados. Estamos satisfechos de poder proveerles un desgloce de gastos con grafica destacando la mayoria de los trabajos cumplidos. Continuamos nuestra ardua labor cada dia por Vieques. La vision es de una comunidad unida que se esfuerza con dedicacion y armonia para un porvenir y futuro mejor.

Desde lo mas profundo de nuestro corazon le queremos dar las gracias por su apoyo, por sus efuerzos, por sus voces, por sus donaciones, por todas sus labores, por ayudar a darle de comer a miles de personas, por confiar en nosotros como una entidad formada con el objetivo de ayudar en un momento de crisis. Sus donativos salvaron vidas y le demonstraron a los residentes de Vieques que el mundo entero observaba con amor y preocupacion. Gracias!

Con mucho amor,
ViequesLove
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"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." M. Gandhi
Mark Martin Bras
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The Isla Nena Judo Club needs sponsors to help send two young women to compete in Panama and chaperones to accompany them. They need to raise $6,500. Staying competitive at these competitions offers them the chance at a scholarship in the future. Here is chance to directly help students on Vieques who are working so hard every day to prepare for a better future. Please go to their facebook page to learn more and to DONATE DIRECTLY TO THE ISLA NENA JUDO CLUB.

https://www.facebook.com/Isla-Nena-Judo-Club-1492348777450358/


At 3 PM when Sairy Colon Rodriguez arrives to her Judo practice, she has already been up for 10 hours. Her morning exercise routine begins at 5 AM, a time meant only for roosters and fishermen. With the sun still a soft hum below the horizon, Sairy tightens her laces and hits the pavement. For her and her fellow students of the Isla Nena Judo Club, Judo is a way of life.
At 15- years-old, Sairy is in her sixth year of Judo and has already earned the title of National Champion of Puerto Rico six consecutive times, along with several other placements and medals for various national and international competitions.
“Judo has totally changed my life,” says Sairy sitting tall upon the blue matted floor of the temporary Dojo- a small classroom in the Island’s middle school. “It has given me many experiences and wisdom…. What I love most is the discipline, the training.”
Her companion fighter Nahira Feliciano Williams, also 15, holds an equally remarkable reputation as the Gold Medal Winner in every national event that she has participated in since her start in Judo seven years ago.
Judo has given the girls the opportunity to travel internationally to countries like Peru, Switzerland, the USA and the Dominican Republic. The hope is that they will be able to raise funds to be able to go to Panama on the 16th of May, 2018 to compete in the American Cup, a qualifying event for the Junior Olympic Games, to be held later this year in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“It is my dream to go there (Panama)…. To compete to bring the Medal back to Vieques!” Says Nahira.
The Girls are just two of 10 apprentices studying under their trainer, Juan E. Martinez Dauo, who began the Island Nena Judo Club 11- years-ago. Juan has since become a teacher, role model, and leader for dozens of young Viequenses looking to enrich their lives through the ancient Japanese practice.
“Cuerpo Sano, Mente Sano.”
“Healthy body, healthy mind.” This, says Dauo, is the foundation of the Judo philosophy. Through discipline and positive encouragement, he helps guide his students as they seek to embody the principles of Judo, a martial art focused less on intentionally injuring an opponent, but rather achieving success through technique and focus. Surprisingly, the disciplinary element of the art is what the young Judokus favor the most. On an island seriously lacking in recreational and sports activities for kids, for them, Judo has filled a void. While other sports groups practice 2-3 times a week, Isla Nena Judo Club meets six times a week.
Often, this drive and determination accompanies Dauo’s students on through University. Several of his past prodigies have received Judo Scholarships and gone on to graduate as doctors, engineers, lawyers and so on. The island of Vieques itself, where around 40% of the population lives below the poverty line, offers little to no opportunity in higher education. With only 20% enrollment, continuing their education is a challenge shared by most young Viequenses who lack the means and the academic preparation to go on to college.
“Judo has helped me a lot in my studies and to develop me as a person,” says Nahira.
For students like Nahira, Judo is a worthwhile sacrifice, though what was once challenging- like much of daily life in Puerto Rico- is even more so after the storm.
After years of moving between schools and gyms, the club had finally settled into their own space out on the North Western side of the island.
Maria claimed the club’s Dojo and mostly everything in it.
“It was a total loss,” says Dauo.
It may be a long time before the Isla Nena Judo Club recuperates what they had before the storm, but it is certainly not their training space which defines them, nor does a category 6 hurricane have the power to break their spirit. The troupe is doing everything they can to rebuild, reaching out to friends, family and the community, taking to the streets with empty coffee cans and posters to help raise funds and awareness. If they get the money to send Nahira and Sairy to Panama to compete, bringing home the gold would be not only be a huge victory for the club but an homage to the resiliency of the Island of Vieques as a whole.

by: Brittany Bresha
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Dear Donors,
Many of you have asked what more you can do to help or how you can continue to support the island. We would like to occasionally update you on opportunities to directly help other initiatives but especially when those awareness campaigns will impact the lives and future of the children on the island. The impact of the storm will be felt for years to come but it is our hope that we can still provide the opportunities to the youth that they deserve and their hopes for their future possibilites will not be severed due to the ecomomic circumstances that the storm has inflicted on the island. Our connection with people like you who have reached out your helping hand to the island has offered opportunity to actually allow them a better future than they had ever imagined. To know that there are so many people who love Vieques and so much support is coming from far away, has reignited a sense of pride and devotion that will carry us through the storm.
+ Read More
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$982,049 of $1.0M goal

Raised by 7,662 people in 8 months
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