What we do
In December 2019, the novel coronavirus emerged as a new threat to global health and security. Before the first case had been reported in the USVI, our team began planning ahead for what we knew would be an unprecedented challenge.
In early March, we purchased bulk stock PPE to give to medical professionals, first responders, and essential workers in anticipation of a global shortage. Beginning on March 8th we we able to deliver gloves, surgical masks, tyvek suits, hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap, and cleaning supplies to the Myrah Keating Smith clinic, Cruz Bay Family Practice, and Island Health and Wellness as well as to employees of grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations across the island for 3 weeks, well before push packages of PPE were sent to the territory by the federal government.
On March 10th, we began to distribute informational flyers in English and in Spanish across the island. The flyers were vetted by the Virgin Islands Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and featured all of the information known about COVID-19 at the time. Over 500 flyers were distributed within 72 hours. On March 14th, the first case of COVID-19 was reported by health officials in the US Virgin Islands.
In April, we partnered with World Central Kitchen and Gifft Hill School to deliver free hot and cold meals to seniors, families with children, and individuals with a disability or chronic health condition. We also regularly delivered meals to healthcare workers and first responders. Every week, over 500 meals were delivered directly to 200 homes for 3 months. Our relationships with the small business community were able to make this program more robust and efficient. We worked with St. John Brewers to increase meal preparation and storage capacity, and Rocknrolla Charters to add transportation for our team and a Spanish translator.
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 were available to anyone in need. Over 2,500 free masks were given out through this program.
For more information on COVID-19 in the US Virgin Islands, including informational graphics and videos, visit our What To Know page.
Resilient Housing Initiative (RHI)
The Resilient Housing Initiative (RHI) was created in 2018 to help rebuild homes on St. John destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. It is now the longest running home rebuild program on St. John, surpassing the existence of other federal and local assistance programs. Every home rebuilt through RHI is more disaster resistant and safer than ever thanks to the hard work of licensed Virgin Islands contractors. To date, this program has rebuilt 35 homes across St. John.
The St. John Community Foundation’s Disaster Case Managers select individuals for this program. The program is open to full time residents of St. John who have received little to no recovery funds, and are members of one or more of the following groups:
Due to the tremendous logistical complexities involved with a program of this magnitude, we have proudly partnered with numerous community and international entities in the nonprofit and private sectors to combine resources, utilize complementary skill sets, and streamline project management.The current RHI partners are: The St. John Community Foundation, Cutting Edge Construction, Heidi Arnold Design, and J&D Woodworking.
- Project management, general oversight, and site inspections
- Paying for all building materials and their shipping and logistics costs
- Paying for the labor of all licensed contractors and subcontractors
- Paying for tools and equipment needed on job sites
- Fixed assets used during construction, including a materials yard and three vehicles (fuel and maintenance included)
Many homes on St. John do not have access to safe, potable water directly from their cisterns, and no way to determine the water’s condition. LCS assessed this community concern through widespread data collection after the hurricanes of 2017, and responded to the need by developing our multiphase Water Quality program. In 2018 we began the first phase, aimed at testing and raising awareness of cistern water quality. Water testing was conducted for residents whom, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), are considered high-risk for the effects of a severe waterborne illness: Seniors; pregnant women; families with young children and infants; and individuals with a disability or chronic health condition. Our team visited and tested the cistern water of over 200 homes, at no cost to the residents. Alarmingly, the vast majority of our tests showed a high presence of harmful E.Coli bacteria. Collecting this data allowed us to seek funding for long-term solutions.
In 2019, we received a grant from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy to provide and install new, three-phase UV and carbon filtration systems on 50 residential cisterns. These cisterns belong to individuals whose test results in the first project phase continuously showed a high-risk of harmful contamination. We completed 50 installations in 2019, and are in the process of an additional 20 installations in 2020 thanks to the support of our donors, who have kept this program going. This program creates long term health benefits for the high-risk individuals who are affected, and may have larger, positive economic and environmental impacts via reducing individual dependence on bottled water and reducing the strain that disposing of plastic bottles places on St. John’s fragile waste management system. Licensed plumbers and electricians living on St. John have been hired to perform all of the installations, further ensuring that the recovery dollars we receive stay in the community.
Through sharing our data and program methodology with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), our team has been utilized by these agencies to help conduct numerous scientific field studies throughout the Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands government has been able to use these studies to apply for federal mitigation funding centered on residential water quality and environmental impact. Our team continues to assist federal and territorial agencies with their scientific data gathering needs.
Planning for future challenges presented by natural disasters is our primary goal and purpose. Our Disaster Preparedness program has three components which seek to ensure that St. John is more prepared than ever for all hazards.
We have established 3 secure storage facilities across the island that house a variety of response and recovery supplies.
We have established a standby road clearing team, who are ready to deploy in the event of a disaster and are trained in proper equipment safety and use.
We have established a standby expansion of our Go Team, who are ready to deploy for door-to-door wellness checks and supply distribution in the event of a disaster.
To be effective in a variety of response situations, our employees and our standby teams have received extensive training from BBC Electric, St. John Rescue, the USVI Department of Health, the Virgin Islands Public Safety-Support Foundation, FEMA, and VITEMA.
Emergency Response Support
A pervasive issue that has long affected St. John is the delayed response to emergencies by hard working first responders, such as our Fire Department and EMS. This is due to a variety of factors including the island’s inherent topographical challenges; poor cell phone and data service; outdated mapping of public roads, parcels and land estates; a lack of mapping for the majority of private roads and structures; and the fact that a large portion of St. John’s first responders are residents of other islands who may be unfamiliar with St. John’s streets, landmarks, and terrain.
We seek to bridge these gaps and connect emergency workers with residents through community outreach and data gathering. Our Go Team has spent the last 2 years traveling across the island and going door-to-door, offering free services to residents that may make it easier for first responders to find them. These include providing custom address signs; easy to use, waterproof, emergency red flashing lights; and File of Life cards. The team is also collecting important data that will be used by first responders to locate residents in the event of a natural disaster, with a special emphasis on high risk individuals such as seniors and persons with a disability or chronic health condition. We have been working with several stakeholders in the Virgin Islands to make use of this data via new technology.
When it comes to ensuring the safety and wellness of the St. John community, no donation is too small. Our teams are on the ground, working hard every day to make an impact. We can continue to do so with your support.Donate now