It’s hard to wrap my head around all that’s transpired down in my beloved islands in the last seven days. I’ve been focusing all of my energy on doing everything I can for my island friends and Facebook has been our biggest tool. I'm the first to admit, I can get pretty down on social media sometimes - but today, I'm grateful for the ability to connect to hundreds of thousands of people at the click of a button.
I’m heartbroken and emotionally exhausted, but I know what I’m feeling isn’t even a fraction of what my friends are feeling - the ones who evacuated with this kids and dogs and a backpack full of what little they have left, or those who are still on island with no power trying to figure out what’s next. It really puts things into perspective - how safe and comfortable I feel sipping my coffee right now, how absurd it is that I have so many pairs of yoga pants. Some of my friends have lost everything. Their homes, boats, businesses, jobs…life on a rock, as they knew it - is gone.
But I’ve learned a few very important things this week:
1 - Your voice matters and social media is powerful. Never question whether or not you can make a difference by speaking up for those whose voices can’t be heard.
2 - My St. John island family is the strongest, most resilient, united community in the world. I've always felt this, but now I know this to be true. I remember when I moved down there - I was 22, invincible and determined to live my life the way I wanted to instead of the way others expected me to. I’ll never forget a friend laughing and saying, “Welcome to the island of misfit toys. I’m not sure how or why we end up here - it’s not for everyone, but those of us who do stay, we become a family. You’re part of it now, for better or for worse.”
And now I know it’s true. We are a family that stretches out across the entire world and we stick together, for better or for worse.
They call that tiny island Love City for a reason. We will rebuild, palm trees will grow back. The Caribbean Sea is still turquoise and crystal clear, the sand is still soft and white. The heart of that place is still there and it always will be. We're all in this together.
Love to all,
If you have even just $1 to spare, please donate to Kenny Chesney's Love for Love City Fund - all money goes directly to relief efforts in the USVI & BVI.
My friends and I have started a Virgin Islands Relocation Help Facebook page. If you have a spare room, apartment or house, or employment opportunities you'd like to offer those transitioning back to the states, please send us a message. And even more importantly, if you know of someone who is displaced in the islands and relocating to the states, let them know we're here to help.