Published on Thursday, 21 December 2017 18:08
The St. John Community Foundation is honored to be part of the massive and united effort underway to help our island residents put their lives back together after two devastating storms. On behalf of the entire community, I want to thank you for your donation to the IRMA-MARIA relief efforts. Rest assured we will use your donation for hurricane recovery efforts in a fiscally responsible, conscientious and direct manner. As you may know, we were formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo and have been responsibly managing local and federal funds for over 28 years. The generosity of people like you will enable us to address unmet needs in a specific and direct way. Please accept this letter for tax deduction purposes. The St. John Community Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Tax Exempt # 66-0463145.
We kicked off the season of giving and celebrated the official end of hurricane season on November 30th with a packed house at our second Long Term Recovery Team (LTRT) meeting. St. John is thankful for the progress of the recovery effort, for all the support extended to our island, and that we could come together in gratitude and provide Thanksgiving dinner to the whole community as we hosted our deployed responders for the holiday.
The LTRT is breaking into 8 main work groups and related subcommittees in the areas of Resources and Donations Management, Volunteer Coordination, Health and Social Services (including feeding, crisis counseling, youth services, and animal welfare), Disaster Case Management, Housing and Construction Coordination, Environmental and Cultural Sustainability, Economic and Workforce Development, and Community and Infrastructure Planning. These Work Groups and underlying subcommittees are comprised of all the public and private groups, agencies and the Angel Network of nonprofit organizations leading St. John’s recovery effort.
While the island still has a long road ahead of hard work to do, it has already come a long way since being struck by the hurricanes in September and we are welcoming tourists. The National Park Service has officially reopened 4 beaches and counting. Some of our most beloved hiking trails are cleared, restaurants have reopened, stranded vessels are being retrieved, commercial flights are being added, more electricity is restored each day, and the number of operating businesses and retailers dependent on tourism increases daily.
Evacuated residents are also now returning to what is left of their island homes in greater numbers. Many homes are still without power and running water and far too many individuals and families remain displaced. While some structures fared better than others, all property on the island took on rainwater that was forced in by the category 5 strength winds and require mold mitigation if not extensive and cost prohibitive repairs or rebuilds. Residents with varying degrees of disaster-related trauma are suffering from physical, respiratory, mental, and emotional aftermath-related health inflictions. We are still caring for residents living in the storm shelter with no home to return to.
The holiday season can often be a stressful time of year and while we are a resilient community working hard to maintain morale, spirits are suffering due to these ongoing hardships.So far, The St. John Community Foundation has earmarked over $200,000 in unrestricted grants to local organizations, including Gifft Hill School and the Christian Academy, who surmounted huge hurdles to open their doors to the St. John youth early in this response phase. Funding has been provided to support organizations such as Island Health and Wellness Center, Island Green Living, St. John School of the Arts, the Animal Care Center of St. John, and Dana’s Carolina Corral, The St. John Revolving Fund, Love City Pan Dragons, and Coral Bay Community Council, who are all directly responding to post-hurricane needs, and more are in the pike. We have facilitated funds for Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City initiatives and written checks to cover well over two million dollars of expenses such as medical supplies, meals, generators, evacuation fight fees and fuel, debris removal, and construction costs as homes and businesses are being rebuilt.
If you would like to continue your support for St. Johnians suffering from storm-related losses this holiday season, please keep us in mind as part of your year-end charitable giving plans. Tax-deductible donations may still be made to the St. John Community Foundation at http://thestjohnfoundation.org/donate, which directly gives to the island nonprofits providing aid.
We wish you a wonderful holiday season with loved ones. This year's island festivities include community parties, a benefit for an injured lineman who was deployed to help us with power restoration, Santa's workshop with gifts donated through Adopt-A-Family USVI for children and adults, and Santa's arrival by boat on Christmas Eve. Thank you again for your support, the holidays will be brighter on St. John they would otherwise be with every hope of achieving a new normal in 2018!