Even though two years have passed since Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the U.S. Virgin Islands, people are still struggling to rebuild homes and lives. At the same time, they remain vulnerable to future storms, which are predicted to grow in severity as the global climate continues to warm. Cane Bay Cares, a local hurricane relief organization run by Kirk Chewning and David Johnson, has made a commitment to provide ongoing assistance to the people of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John.
One aim of the non-profit is to raise funds for current and future hurricane relief. The founding partners’ stated goal is to raise $1 million, matching the first $200,000 donated from their personal funds. All donations to Cane Bay Cares and its partner, the St. Croix foundation, are tax-deductible, and all donations go directly to benefit people in need. Money has been used so far to repair buildings and to supply basic needs, like food, water, and electricity, for hurricane victims.
In addition to raising funds, Cane Bay Cares has provided many forms of concrete, practical assistance to hurricane victims. For example, they have purchased generators to supply power during outages, many thousands of pounds of non-perishable food, over 18,000 bottles of water, solar lights, and freezer packs to keep medication at a safe temperature.
Cane Bay Cares also seeks to contribute to the thriving St. Croix community, supporting fellow citizens in good times as well as bad. For example, the non-profit recently provided donuts and barbecue to local junior high and high school teachers to celebrate the start of the new school year. Another example of community involvement is their donation of funds to the Caterpillar Project, a program to enrich the lives of school children through mentoring, career exploration, creative activity, and cultural awareness.
The non-profit organization actively recruits volunteers to help with relief efforts, such as distribution of food or helping repair homes. The founding partners have expressed thanks for the hundreds of willing individuals who have donated their time thus far. The partners and their staff frequently attend community events in order to share information about the work they’re doing and invite new volunteers to join their efforts.