A group of top AARP officials visited St. Croix recently to meet with nonprofits that received AARP grants after last year’s storms.
In September, AARP and AARP Foundation created a relief fund to collect donations for the victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and collected about $600,000 for the territory. They worked closely with USVI state AARP Director Troy de Chabert-Schuster to select the nonprofits to get funds.
The leadership of AARP and AARP Foundation visited May 10 to learn more of the work of the grantee organizations, according to a news release from the international organization. The leadership also made site visits with three of the organizations to engage in a volunteer hands-on experience with hurricane victims and to take part in the recovery and restoration efforts.
“AARP and AARP Foundation are grateful to our partner organizations who are helping us to rebuild the communities around the island,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins in the news release. “It is humbling to see the destructive power of nature, but I have been encouraged and inspired to see what we can do when we work together,” she said.
“It is deeply moving to see the resilience and the resolve of everyone who was affected by the devastation,” AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson said.
De Chabert-Schuster said he was thrilled that the organization was about to contribute to rebuilding the islands.
“I am honored to welcome the leadership of AARP and AARP Foundation to the Virgin Islands,” he said. “AARP-VI looks forward to strengthening our partnership with the grantee organizations as we look beyond the rebuilding process to resiliency and sustainability.”
AARP Foundation granted funds to:
– Legal Services of the V.I.: $50,000 for disaster relief civil legal services such as civil legal assistance in the areas of family law, landlord-tenant, FEMA application assistance and appeals.
– St. Croix Foundation: $75,000 supporting holistic community development;
– Women’s Coalition of St. Croix: $75,000 for disaster relief for older adults on St. Croix. This will include crisis intervention, safe housing; transportation; medical assistance, and outreach.
– Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands: $113,823 for support and relief services to vulnerable populations.
– American Red Cross of the Virgin Islands: $113,500 to support emergency shelters and meet one-on-one with people staying there to help them plan their next steps, connect with assistance and help with plans for long-term health care for some residents who are still in shelters.
– My Brother’s Workshop: $75,000 to help the group use local youths to help repair homes of senior citizens damaged in the storms.
– Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands: $75,000 to provide counseling, outreach to the elderly to include meal delivery, minor home repairs, house cleaning, referrals to mainstream services, assistance with FEMA and SBA processes, advocacy and emergency housing.
The grantees shared their work and needs with the leadership of AARP and AARP Foundation during a breakfast meeting Thursday morning. Following the meeting, AARP leadership accompanied the American Red Cross to Claude O. Markoe Elementary School where they taught the students about natural disaster preparedness. The leadership then had lunch with AARP-Virgin Islands volunteers at the State Office. Afterwards they helped Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands clean the Light of Christ Retreat Center in Frederiksted, which will be converted into a homeless shelter. The afternoon was concluded at Flamboyant Gardens, an assisted living community operated by Lutheran Social Services of The Virgin Islands.
At Flamboyant Gardens, they helped residents put their important photographs on pieces of local mahogany felled by Hurricane Maria.