A graphic saying thank you to donors.
December 1 was Giving Tuesday, the global day of giving back. In the nonprofit world, there are so many smart and talented leaders, innovative and inspiring solutions, and extremely worthy causes. We are so humbled by the kindness extended to us this year from our donors. Nothing that we do is possible without you. This year, over $4,000 dollars was raised for Love City Strong on Giving Tuesday, ensuring that our efforts to create a more prepared St. John will continue in the years to come. Thanks to the GlobalGiving Foundation’s #MoveAMillion campaign, a significant matching contribution will be made from GlobalGiving to every one of their sponsored charities, including LCS! We would like to extend a special thank you to High Tide and St. John Brewer’s for their support this year, and in years past. Their teams worked so hard to help encourage people to donate on Giving Tuesday by hosting a special raffle event, with dozens of individuals either buying tickets or just donating what they could and asking nothing in return. Even in the midst of such unparalleled challenges, the small business community on St. John never fails to demonstrate their kindness and spirit. We would also like to thank Cruz Bay Watersports for generously donating two sailing trips as prizes for the raffle. For over 30 years, they have delivered premier recreational activities for visitors and residents of the US Virgin Islands, and supported many nonprofit organizations and charity events. We are so fortunate and grateful to be the recipients of their generosity this year. Congratulations to raffle winners Jessica Williams and Megan Folsom! We hope you enjoy a fun and relaxing day on the water. Amidst the upheaval that has impacted all facets of life, and the uncertainty of navigating our personal and professional future, Giving Tuesday was an important reminder of the inherent goodness in people. The connections created during this giving season, whether through kind words, shared messages, or donations to support our projects, have invigorated and motivated us to continue our work. From all of us at Love City Strong, thank you!
Giving Tuesday Information
This Tuesday, December 1 is known as Giving Tuesday, the global day of giving back. Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: A day that encourages people to do good. Over the years it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, volunteer, and celebrate generosity.  This year, you can join the movement by supporting Love City Strong, and our efforts to create a more prepared St. John. Click here to donate now. At LCS, our mission is to ensure that the community of St. John is able to respond, recover, and prepare for disasters. Our approach to disaster preparedness centers on three main initiatives: Community outreach and empowerment, stockpiling emergency supplies, and professional training for our team to make us more effective as first responders. To that end, we have already made a lot of progress over the last 3 years. We created 3 secure storage areas across the island that house a variety of response supplies including boxed water, MREs, solar lights, and first aid supplies. Our team calls or visits over 200 households with seniors both prior to and directly after any tropical weather event of any size; if the senior needs help putting up their shutters or securing their property, we head to their home and help. We have spent several years giving away File of Life and waterproof, flashing emergency lights to people all over the island, and offering to make free home address signs for seniors in an effort to ensure that emergency workers can get to them quicker and easier. With your help this Giving Tuesday, we can do even more to respond to disasters. While we often fundraise for specific projects (like the Resilient Housing Initiative), 2020 has taught us that it is important to have unrestricted funding available as well. Unrestricted donations are funds that can be spent on anything that we identify as a community need, rather than specific projects that we are already working on. This ensures that we can spring into action and address any crisis that may arise. With unrestricted donations, we were able to create and execute community programs in response to COVID-19 quickly and efficiently. This year, programs like our island-wide meal distribution program alongside World Central Kitchen and the purchase and distribution of thousands of reusable face masks across the island were funded by flexible, unrestricted donations. Unrestricted funding also allows us to employ St. John residents and hire St. John businesses to help us do the work.  This Giving Tuesday, join the global movement for good by supporting our efforts through unrestricted funding. If you make your donation via our Global Giving Foundation page, they will distribute additional funds to all of the charities that Global Giving sponsors around the world this year, including LCS, as part of the #MoveAMillion campaign. No matter which causes you donate to or support this year, we encourage everyone to give a little back this Giving Tuesday. Nonprofits play a crucial role in their communities, and they rely on our love to keep them going. Celebrate their efforts through a donation this December 1.
The Territory entered the 2020 hurricane season on high alert, facing the forecast of an active season paired with the COVID-19 pandemic. At Love City Strong, we began modifying and updating our preparedness and response plans early on, reaching out to our partners at Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA), the Virgin Islands Department of Health (VIDOH), the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for guidance and best practices for responding to a disaster during a global health crisis.  Thanks to our work responding to the pandemic on St. John, our team was already used to wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and adhering to social distancing protocols. We modified our annual community outreach programs, becoming less reliant on public events and leveraging public and private partnerships in order to successfully respond to two significant weather events while keeping residents informed.  Tropical Storm Isaias impacted the Territory on July 29th, and our response lasted from July 25th through July 30th. This large system moved quickly, but did not turn into a tropical storm until it passed just south of St Croix. Our team remained on alert and executed pre- and post-storm wellness checks in the community, shifting from at-home visits to conducting them entirely over the phone. We assisted residents with downed trees and minor storm debris on their property, and brought resources like solar powered lights to those experiencing power loss. A wave of severe weather associated with Tropical Storm Laura impacted the Territory in the early morning hours of Saturday, August 21st. Once again, what was expected to be a significant rain event stayed to our south, resulting in a limited impact. Within 24 hours of the forecast impact, we knew that the path would keep Laura from being much of a threat to the USVI, but our team continued to execute pre- storm wellness checks, and helped several residents with boarding up and clearing their property. This hurricane season saw us working closely with VITEMA and our other government partners, as well as our sister nonprofits affiliated with Virgin Islands Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VI VOAD), to keep St. John prepared. Between storms this year, we delivered sandbags to over 100 households, and handed out blue roofing via a drive-through system alongside our partners. Both of these events would normally be done in the form of large public gatherings, but we were able to execute them successfully while still observing social distancing and PPE use. The 2020 hurricane season taught us much about the unpredictable nature of disaster preparedness, and emphasized the complex relationship between multiple disasters that share the same impact window. I am proud of the work our team has done this year, in the face of so many challenges. As the season comes to a close, we look forward to further refining our deployment plans, expanding our preparedness and resilience programming, and serving the community in the years to come.
Trunk Bay, St. John VI

Today, we wanted to take a moment to express gratitude to the many individuals and groups that have helped make Love City Strong’s progress in 2020 possible. Although this year has been challenging to say the least, we are overwhelmed by the constant kindness and support of so many different individuals and groups that have helped us remain true to our mission and purpose.

First, a huge thank you to our many donors and grantors for making our programs possible. This year we are particularly humbled by the generosity of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI), and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP). Each of these foundations allowed us to both extend and modify grant funding in order to address community needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their flexibility has been vital to our successes this year, and has helped us make real differences in the lives of hundreds of St. John residents.  Since the beginning, our Board has continuously helped fund our projects and has kept us on track so that we can continue making a big impact on St. John for years to come. Thank you Tom Secunda, John McInnis, Jarrod Bernstein, Ian Samuel, and Tenesha Keyes for your exemplary leadership and support especially during such unprecedented times. Thank you to our team for working so hard all year, and constantly pivoting to address multiple challenges while remaining supportive of each other and committed to your community. Your tireless dedication is a constant inspiration. There are dozens of St. John businesses and licensed professionals that help by lending their technical expertise to the work that we do. We would like to extend a special thank you to Big Planet, Cutting Edge Construction, J&D Woodworking, Joel Penn, Ralph Carbon, Rebecca Reinbold, and St. John Projects for working alongside us to make a difference this year, and in years past. Nothing that we do would be possible without key organizational partners in the public and private sectors. In 2020, we are so grateful for the support of the CDC, FEMA, High Tide, Island Health & Wellness Center, Love City Mini Mart, Papaya Cafe and Bookstore, Paradise Lumber, ShoreIQ, Skinny Legs, Starfish Market, St. John Brewers, the St. John Community Foundation, St. John Hardware, St. John Rescue, Sosa’s Food Truck, Tony’s Kitchen, the Virgin Islands Department of Health, the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services, the Virgin Islands Fire Department, and VITEMA just to name a few!  The challenges we faced as an organization in 2020 have brought our staff closer together, and renewed our commitment to our clients and supporters. This year has reminded us that life is full of uncertainties, and in order to be truly prepared, we must be flexible and willing to overcome obstacles by working together. We must also remember to be grateful for those in our lives who lift us up and support us in our time of need.  We encourage everyone to take a moment and extend your thanks to the important people and groups in your life. Take the time to express your gratitude, and in doing so, renew your commitment to making your community a better place.
As COVID-19 continues its impact across the globe, nonprofit organizations have stepped up to help their communities by addressing gaps in the pandemic response in a variety of ways. In turn, there has been a significant trend in large philanthropic organizations rising to the occasion and modifying the way they do business with nonprofits. Some foundations have helped by ramping up their allotment of funds to cover general operating costs — A sticking point in an industry that demands low overhead yet high benchmarks for success and sweeping outcomes — While others have extended funding deadlines or shifted funding requirements entirely. At Love City Strong, many of our original plans for 2020 were put on hold temporarily (or in some cases indefinitely) in favor of pivoting to address community needs caused by the pandemic. Providing PPE to first responders and healthcare workers, feeding the community during the Virgin Islands’ initial lockdown, and bulking up a backstock supply of PPE in anticipation of a second wave of cases became our priorities. Fortunately, we benefited from the flexibility and generosity of one of our key philanthropic funders. The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI) has been a tremendous help to our organization in this time of need. They not only allowed funds granted in 2019 to be extended through the end of 2020, but also for the funding to be pivoted from its original purpose, and instead used for our COVID-19 response efforts.  Without their support, none of our COVID-19 microprograms would be possible. It is refreshing and heartening to see large donors and philanthropic organizations like CFVI pivot to address funding the world’s ever changing needs, just as NGOs have pivoted to address those needs on the ground.  I believe that this fluid, all-hazards approach is the future of efficient and inclusive disaster response, as nonprofits and faith based organizations continue to do what is necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the communities that they serve. With less trepidation about funding general operating costs, and relaxed requirements on how philanthropic funding can be used, there is no telling how much nonprofits can accomplish moving forward. The question is whether these philanthropic commitments to increase funds, provide more flexibility, and limit asks of nonprofits will become part of the “new normal” — Or whether the habits of big donors will return to business as usual.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season triggers countless emotions for many Virgin Islanders and residents of the VI. This is not only a time when we are busy preparing for the possibilities of  storms; it is also a time of year that we tend to remember the one storm that changed the course of so many lives.  On September 6, 2017 Hurricane Irma cut a path of destruction through the Caribbean basin, impacting the lives of millions. With record high wind speeds of 185 miles per hour, Irma was one of the deadliest and to date the strongest storm on record in the Atlantic region. St. John was utterly devastated; the island experienced widespread destruction to its structures, roads, critical infrastructure and widespread power loss. 13 days later, Hurricane Maria followed, and delivered a second, crushing blow. St. John received over 3 feet of rain in under 24 hours, and response efforts made by our sister islands were forced to halt completely. Maria was the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, with peak winds of 175mph. To say that such unprecedented natural disasters changed the reality of everyday life in the Virgin Islands would be an understatement. The team at Love City Strong suffered our share of losses due to the storms of 2017. Many of us lost our homes or our jobs, and some of us endured even greater personal hardships.  However, just as our shared experiences as survivors of natural disasters are what brought us together, it is our collective passion for preparedness that keeps us motivated and helps us to get through this difficult time of year. It is fitting, then, that the anniversary of Hurricanes Irma and Maria falls during National Preparedness Month—A time to ensure that the impact of natural disasters is reduced through meaningful action. For LCS, meaningful action means implementing strategies that worked after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in a more organized fashion, and ensuring that response assets are prestaged on the island and ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. Each year, we deploy 25 seasonal employees who are on standby from July through November; they are trained in a variety of safety, first aid, and professional first responder protocols. Part of this team are trained to remove debris from secondary roadways. All members of this team are Virgin Islanders or longtime residents who have lived on St. John for no less than five years, and they are from a variety of backgrounds and age ranges to better reflect the diversity of the community.  We maintain a variety of response assets, including large commercial generators and several pieces of heavy equipment, that we can provide to essential businesses should the need arise. We facilitate the permanent storage of FEMA assets on St. John, including shelf sustainable water and MREs, to ensure that we do not need to wait for commodities to be transported from another island. We also coordinate with the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) to assist them in their hurricane readiness efforts, like distributing sandbags and blue roof materials. We perform pre-event and post-event wellness checks on hundreds of residents every single time that a storm is headed our way, regardless of its size, and assist seniors and persons with access and functional needs in their preparedness efforts. Though our preparedness priorities shift as we face new and dynamic challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, our core mission remains the same: Take meaningful action and utilize the human resources present in the community to ensure that St. John is better prepared for disasters. While we will never forget the traumatic experience of the 2017 hurricanes that brought us together, we have a collective commitment to being part of a stronger, more prepared community. The passion that guided our actions immediately following Irma and Maria continues to drive us in our constantly evolving preparedness and response programs.   
In December 2019, the novel coronavirus changed lives on a global scale. At Love City Strong we have made every effort to react as quickly as possible; pivoting from what we had originally planned for 2020 to make addressing the issues caused by COVID-19 our number one priority. COVID-19 Response Timeline On March 6th, we began purchasing bulk supplies of PPE and sanitation products to give to healthcare professionals, first responders, and essential workers on St. John in anticipation of the global shortage. Our distribution of these supplies occurred throughout the month of March, a full two months before the national stockpile supplies arrived in the Virgin Islands. On March 10th, we began to distribute COVID-19 informational flyers in English and in Spanish across the island. These flyers were vetted by the Virgin Islands Department of Health and the CDC, and featured all of the information known about COVID-19 at that time. Over 500 flyers were distributed within 72 hours. On March 13th, one day before the first case of COVID-19 in the Virgin Islands was announced by territory healthcare officials, we made the decision to close our office to the public and either suspend or greatly modify our programs in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Our teams modified their procedures to either limit or cease in-home visits with our clients and increased regular sanitation of their work vehicles and supplies. We also encouraged all employees to work from home rather than in our office. As of August, these practices remain in place. On April 13th, we began partnering with World Central Kitchen to deliver hot and cold meals to seniors, families with children, and individuals with a disability or chronic health condition. We also delivered meals to healthcare workers and first responders every other week in addition to our household deliveries. Our relationships with the small business community were able to make this program more robust and efficient—We hired St. John Brewers to increase meal preparation and storage capacity, and Rock n’ Rolla Charters to provide both additional transportation for our team and a Spanish translator. Our Go Team delivered over 500 meals and snack packs directly to over 200 different households every single week for three months. In May, the CDC released new guidance regarding the importance of wearing masks in public. To encourage and normalize this practice, we launched a month-long social media campaign called “We Not Me.” During the campaign, we shared photos that were sent to us from people in the Virgin Islands and around the world wearing their masks. Each photo was accompanied by a short testimonial from that person with their specific reasons for taking this precaution seriously. You can view the entries in this campaign on our Instagram account by clicking the #WeNotMe story highlight. In June we partnered with St. John retailer Big Planet to provide free, reusable face masks to St. John residents and visitors. The first batch of masks were provided to households that we were delivering meals to, and to churches in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. We then set up small buckets of masks at several different businesses across the island, where they are available to anyone in need. The free masks will be provided at these locations from June through the end of August, and thus far approximately 2,000 masks have been given away. Our Mission Moving Forward At LCS, it has always been our philosophy to prepare for the worst and hope for the best through all hazards, and this has served us well during this unprecedented time. Through the early and decisive actions of our team, we have been able to continue serving the community of St. John through both our existing programs and new, short-term initiatives while keeping ourselves and our clients safe. Wherever you are, we urge you to continue to be vigilant and responsible as COVID-19’s impact continues. This isn’t over. Whether you are young or old; healthy or high-risk, we must all continue to do our part to take extra care with our family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.