Radeen and I are happy to have connected with the wonderful Principal of the Primary School on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. Ms. Blyden is a very high-quality person and we really respect her leadership and her dedication to the children on the island and on Tortola. We first met her in April 2017 and again in January 2018 when we were motoring around with a broken mast, waiting to ship out for repairs. Last year we made a donatation from our 503c nonprofit (www.EveryoneCanHelpSomeone.com) to help with needed school supplies. We have stayed in touch via Facebook. This year we connected with her and said we would buy school supplies in Puerto Rico and sail them over to her. More on that later, so first here is our happy picture together.
Shopping for school supplies was really a very fun activity. We sailed in and anchored in Salinas, PR. There we rented a car and headed out to Walmart for shopping stop #1. We had a list of needed items from her and we started working on the list. As we shopped, we were in constant contact with Ms. Blyden via Facebook Messenger on our cells. We would locate items, take photos and ask if these were the right items. She would reply immediately and on we shopped. What a very, very fun activity. At Walmart, we emptied the shelves of all the Expo Whiteboard Markers. We also bought all the chisel tip sharpies they had. This was everything we could find at Walmart.
After buying all the markers at Walmart, we headed off to Ponce, Puerto Rico about 35 minute drive to shop at an Office Max. The teachers had no staplers and no staples, they needed laminating pockets, glue sticks, sticky pads, mounting tape, pens, etc. Well, this Office Max had it all, and we loaded up. Each purchase was sent by a photo on Messenger to Ms. Blyden and she approved or said no, not needed. We really kept focused on her needs for her teachers. With a cart full, we hit the check out. We tried to use our Federal Tax ID number to avoid paying 8% tax but they would not accept it because we had no account on file.
We returned late at night after also shopping at Kmart for a few gifts for Ms. Blyden as she lost her home and everything in it to Hurricane Irma. We were very happy to pick up a few items for her home kitchen. What a joy. So, it was back to the dinghy dock, late at night, where we loaded up the dinghy and moved everything into the quarter berth.
On the boat, we divided the items and we made 8 bags, one for each teacher. Each bag included a Swingline stapler, staples, Expo whiteboard markers, 8 chisel sharpies, sticky pads, and glue sticks. We also had a full box of more of the same plus mounting tape, 200 laminating pockets, more staples, black pens, red pens and special pens for Ms. Blyden. This box was for the storage closet.
Added to the school supplies, Radeen and I also connected with Grace, at Mpowerd.com and we ordered 48 LUCI 2.0 solar lights. These we expedited shipping to St. Thomas, but we needed to find a location to ship to where we could pick them up. We are so grateful to National Marine Inc, of St. Thomas, they agreed to accept our shipment at no charge and we were now set to receive our final gifts for Jost Van Dyke. Last year we gave away 24 LUCI lights in Puerto Rico and we found out that people loved them. They would come up and ask if we had more and we would give them to anyone who had no power in their home. We wanted to do the same for the households of the children in the Jost Van Dyke school, and we did! Within 2 days our 4 boxes of LUCI lights were onboard and we were charging them up in the sun so they would be ready to light up for the children.
After a stop in Christmas Cove, we next set sail for Jost Van Dyke arriving around 10 am. We were lucky and secured a mooring ball right off the customs and immigration dock. As captain, I had to first go in and clear into the country. Upon filling out the paperwork I had to declare that I was importing goods into the country. So I alerted the customs officer to this and he insisted that I bring everything into his office for inspection and to pay the duty tax! Oh, no!
So, I returned to Island Spirit and we waited out a bit of rain, placing all items into plastic bags to keep them from getting soaked. After the quick rain shower, we loaded up and moved all items to the customs dock for inspection. The officer asked what everything was and he looked over the items and then applied a 20% import duty on the gifts; the school supplies were duty-free. We were cleared and we moved the times to a waiting pickup truck with Ms. Blyden. It was important to us that Ms. Blyden distribute everything on a schedule best for her, without interrupting the school day. We would have liked to spend at least one night, but the weather was good and we had packages to meet in St. Thomas. After a great visit at Foxy’s with Pam, A.D. and Hayden on IP420 Pappy’s Packet, we headed to a mooring ball in Hawksnest Bay in the National Park on beautiful St. John.
We were thrilled when all was transferred to Ms. Blyden and she was so happy to receive these gifts. The guidance counselor drove the truck back to the school and we treated Ms. Blyden to lunch at the local cafe on the beach.
We are so touched by the photos Ms. Blyden posted on Facebook of the teachers and children with our gifts.
Radeen and I feel so fortunate to be able to give to others and to help where we can. We are not a large organization; it is only us and our friends and family who donate to help. We give 100% of the donations away each year. This is one example of the small missions we are trying to accomplish. Since the destructive hurricanes of IRMA and MARIA, we are trying to give back to those in need. One month before we discovered we also had damages, we created this project of Everyone Can Help Someone. The first year we donated over $3,000. This is now our second year and we will be looking to help children in Dominica schools next. You can read about our project to help others here.
We are retired public school teachers from the USA. Since 2011, we have been sailing nearly full time from Maine to the Florida Keys and the Bahamas on our 1994 Island Packet 35, “Island Spirit.”. With ten trips up and down the Intracoastal Waterway, we have seen many beautiful places. After spending the winters of 2012-2016 in the Bahamas, we finally pushed ourselves to head beyond our comfort zone. We sailed southeast by way of The Thorny Path to the Caribbean in the spring of 2017. Here is a photo of our proud moment when we turned the corner out of the Mona Passage, rounding the SW corner of Puerto Rico and finally making it into the Caribbean Sea!
Photo: We Reach the Caribbean Sea!
We enjoyed exploring the Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, which was a wonderful surprise for its warm and friendly people and spectacular scenery. Next, we cruised the Spanish, US, and British Virgin Islands, finally arriving at our happy place of The Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda. Dreams came true when we spent weeks exploring these gorgeous and familiar islands at a leisurely pace, instead of dashing madly about as we have done several times in the past on one-week charter vacations.
Our original plans were to push on through and head south to Grenada to store the boat for hurricane season. Instead, we decided to store the boat in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, because we wanted to return to lovely Puerto Rico and to review, one more time, all of these beautiful islands. Here we are in full Puerto Rican Medalla brand beer attire. We love Puerto Rico….
As most of you know, the 2017 Caribbean Hurricane season was like none before, with IRMA and MARIA devastating all the islands from Dominica northward. Our beloved islands took a direct hit and nearly all the places we visited have been damaged or destroyed. Many people are homeless and jobless. There is so much destruction. Our hearts are broken for these kind people and their beautiful islands. Here is part of the Bitter End Yacht Club as left by Hurricane Maria…..
Radeen and I started by donating to the British Red Cross, the American Red Cross, VirginUnite BVI fund, SailorsHelping.org and the Rhymer Family Hurricane Relief in Cane Garden Bay. We have registered to volunteer on-site, if possible, with Habitat for Humanity in San Juan, VirginUnite, Sir Richard Branson’s charity, and the Bitter End Yacht Club, whose goal is to rebuild the homes of their 200 employees before starting to work on their resort. We still feel very helpless and so have been searching for other ways to help. Finally, we thought of using the model of Patreon plus Blogger plus Youtube. We have been watching this model develop over the past 3 years via svDelos, LaVagabond and Sailing Doodles sites. Our use of the model is different. Here is our plan.…
We encourage our YouTube viewers and our blog followers to become subscribing Patrons at the Patreon website. We ask you to pledge a small fee for each blog post, video, or photo essay we publish. We will share this donated money with local charities, families, and people we find that can really use the help. This money is NOT for us, we want to help others with your donations, OTHERS who have lost so much, OTHERS who need assistance in so many ways. This is a new model for using Patreon and we like the idea. We hope you like it, too, and that you see its value and its potential for good.
We will be publishing a public balance sheet to show where your money has been shared. This will be presented here. http://EveryoneCanHelpSomeone.com/donations. (Note: On Nov 27, 2017, we moved the donations to our nonprofit website as our nonprofit corporation is now set up.)
Our plan is to return to Puerto Rico Nov 1, 2017, where we first will repair minor damage to our sailboat so we have a place to live. Another challenge will be managing all of this with limited communication capability in devastated areas. After we launch the boat, we plan to look for places we can help and to find families that need assistance. With these donated funds, we will buy what is needed and make donations where we see they will help most. We plan to do this throughout our cruising path for the 2017-2018 season and possibly afterward. We are only two individuals, but with the help of all of you, we will work hard to make a difference by using your donations. Please spread the news about what we are doing and join us in…
… Sharing the Joy of Giving!
Hayden & Radeen
March 30, 2019
We have returned to the Caribbean after our 14-month repair of our own boat from damages by Hurricane Maria. Our first mission has been completed, we delivered school supplies to Ms. Blyden, the principal of Jost Van Dyke Primary School (JVDPS) We are thrilled to return to this project of helping others no matter how small it might be. Our Motto: Everyone Can Help Someone, helping one person at a time. You can read about this mission here:
Nov. 27, 2017
After creating this project, we assumed we would have our boat launched and we would be living aboard Island Spirit Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, and March helping everyone we could in the USVI and BVIs. On October 20, 2017, we were informed that our own sailboat had suffered mast and rigging damage from Hurricane Maria. We flew to Puerto Rico Nov 1 to attend to repairs only to halt our launch and start finding a solution for replacing our mast and rigging. As of today, we have agreed to an insurance settlement. Of course, much less than needed to repair, but we have closure on that process. Now we will fly back to Puerto Rico Dec 3 to begin the process of replacing the mast and the standing rigging. We will soon share these plans.
Thank you for following along, we WILL help people in need and we WILL get back to this project, as soon as we have our boat fixed and we can sail once more. Then we will sail into the BVIs and the USVI and help all we can…..
Hayden & Radeen
Nov 27, 2017
Our Nonprofit articles of incorporations and our EIN tax number and all legal paperwork will arrive today or tomorrow and then we can finalize the new project completely separated from our own budget and finances. This will help at tax time, but it is already an accounting challenge. We are doing our best to do this right.