*DVSAC STATEMENT ON HURRICANE IRMA DISASTER RELIEF*
The Virgin Islands Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Council (DVSAC) is saddened by the destruction that Hurricane Irma has caused throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands and on the islands of St. Thomas & St. John particularly. To date, we have already witnessed the lack of cell service and electricity territory-wide and sadly, many individuals are utilizing social media to express their desperation around locating family members and loved ones who still remain unfound. The state of affairs in the Territory are dire but it is just as critical for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault who may have already been in crisis before the disaster. According to a New York Times article by Salam (2017) ‘During and after a disaster, it can be more challenging for these women [domestic violence victims] to obtain services and aid. Domestic violence hotlines may be disconnected, and emergency responders can be
overwhelmed, sometimes leaving abuse victims to fend for themselves. That, in turn, can lead them to return to or remain with their abuser.’
According to the World Health Organization - WHO (2005), ‘Few studies have compared violence levels before and after a disaster, but the effects of disasters are likely to increase individuals', families' and communities' vulnerability to violence. These effects can have both an immediate and a long-term impact on violence.’ WHO continues to outline these impacts and they include but are not limited to:
increased stress and feelings of powerlessness due to bereavement, loss of property and loss of livelihood;
mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder;
the scarcity of basic provisions;
destruction of social networks’
disruptions to the economy.
At DVSAC, we ask our community and our friends, near and far, to remember survivors in their relief efforts. Likewise, while we are hurting for our community, we are also hopeful as we have received an overwhelmingly positive outpour of concern from our sister coalitions, technical assistance and funding organizations, friends and family across the country and we know that we are not alone. As such, we are also offering quick tips on how you can help below:
Six Things You Can Do Today to Support Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Survivors who Have Been Impacted by Hurricane Irma in the U.S. Virgin Islands
1. Personal Care Packages: Shelters are always in need of essential items like water, sanitary napkins, food canned food, hygiene products (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap) and first aid kits. However, with shelters being affected by Hurricane Irma, the need is even greater. If you’re interested in sending care packages for domestic violence and sexual assault shelters and their survivors, please note the mailing address below. Then, consider the following tips to support the efficacy of our distribution: Label Packages By Audience if Pre-Sorted (i.e.: Children’s Needs Ages 0-4, Senior Citizens, Family of Four, etc.) and Include A ‘Quick List’ with items included (i.e.: hygiene products, canned goods, adult pampers, baby formula, etc.). If care packages are not pre-sorted (with a variety of items based on your target audience), consider sending a package with a variety of a single item (i.e.: canned fruits, canned meat, canned vegetables, etc.) and these items will be added to pre-sorted packages that need additional supplies. Please see the attached document/link below by FEMA & the American Red Cross regarding food and water needs during a disaster: https://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/f&web.pdf
2. Debit Gift Cards: Sometimes what we think is a necessity for a survivor is not. Essentials are necessary but other expenses such as healthcare, rent, transportation, tuition, cell phones and other needs are just as critical during a natural disaster. As such, gift cards allow survivors to determine what they need most now. Whether it is $10 or $100, every bit counts! Feel free to send individual visa/mastercard gift cards which will be distributed through the J.A.M. Fund (see below).
3. Hurricane Care Packages: Many have been left without cell service and power so hurricane supplies such as flash lights, candles and even battery operated radios are helpful even beyond the storm! These can be included in packages that are specific to hurricane preparedness and relief. *We’ve separated hurricane care packages from self care packages as some items should not be mixed with edible products. Check out this helpful link on do’s and don’ts of care packages: http://jomygosh.com/2015/05/15-tips-for-avoiding-common-care-package-disasters/* Also, please see the attached document/link below by FEMA & the American Red Cross regarding food and water needs during a disaster: https://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/f&web.pdf
4. Donate to reputable funds that benefit shelters and survivors. DVSAC partnered with the Magras family to establish the J.A.M. Fund in honor of Jeanette Ann Magras who was murdered by her husband - leaving children behind. To commemorate her life and many like her, the J.A.M Fund provides mini-scholarships for survivors who need educational supplies for their children. In light of Irma, the scope of this fund will temporarily expand to emergency relief as well. To make a donation, please visit www.vidvsac.org/donate and include 'JAM Fund' in your notes. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or an application (while funds last!).
5. Donate to Territory-Wide efforts. Survivors are everywhere - we just may not know them all. To ensure that no survivor is left behind, we also encourage you to support relief efforts that are managed by reputable organizations who will be accountable for your funds - most of which are also partners of DVSAC. Please see the list with links below.
6. Hold the Media Accountable. The national media has been consumed with Hurricane Irma's impact on Florida calling it 'the first landfall in the United States' (CNN, NBC, MSNBC amongst others), yet the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are U.S. Territories located at the most easterly points of the United States! In fact, the Puerto Rico Coalition, Coordinadora Paz para la Mujer, has already reached to offer support for survivors in the U.S.V.I. at a time when they are also in need, yet they received minimal coverage as well. Please hold our national media outlets accountable by raising awareness on this issue. You can do this by sending an email, making a phone call or tagging these outlets on social media. We need your voice to support the Territories!
To send care packages or supplies of any kind for survivors, please mail directly to:
V.I. Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Council (DVSAC)
4100 Sion Farm Shopping Center - Suite #1
Christiansted VI 00820
*The United States Postal Service - Priority Mail service is most reliable and cost effective*
Depending on the volume of packages being sent, and if food and other perishables are not included, an alternate shipping method is listed below:
V.I. Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Council (DVSAC)
C/O VI CARGO SERVICES
11401 NW 107TH ST, SUITE 200
MIAMI, FL 33178
*Email Invoice/Packing Slip To: INVOICE@VICARGO.COM *
For More Information on this service, please check out: http://www.vicargo.com/
At this time, DVSAC’s relief efforts are specific to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault as well as direct service provider programs. The donations and care packages received will be distributed Territory-wide with priority for survivors/organizations in disaster zones. For emergency relief efforts with the capacity to serve the entire Territory, please see the list of reputable sites below.
Tim Duncan Disaster Relief Fund:
Face Book Link: https://www.facebook.com/theplayerstribune/videos/1834967659853617/?hc_ref=ARSqcv16oooN_1w4wqDeLh9mkqZEIbVrgn5ZL72IpVgYNos1YpIVUvQ8a8qJZp1dZ0k&pnref=story
Direct Donation Link: https://www.youcaring.com/21usvirginislandrelieffund-942738
St. Croix Foundation Disaster Relief Fund:
Direct Donation Link: https://npo.justgive.org/basket?acton=donate&ein=66-0480131
Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands Relief Fund:
Direct Donation Link: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=LwG-ljReNd63xFfDKyaYHU-_HXBcO5cZ0TTCZeYhJqiqBZKKx-L00mur4QGwpKIzYOdP1m&country.x=US&locale.x=US
J.A.M. Fund for Survivors of Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (DVSAC):
Direct Donation Link (Note 'JAM Fund' in donation notes): https://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=O4VLS5WFYFZ7boqdFeSZJiVi7RX0jkl7K0TsYTuXk6-SKOg1m6RKOA5sTt9uH5GPVUTjxG&country.x=US&locale.x=
On behalf of the DVSAC Board of Directors, staff and our members, we appreciate your thoughts, your prayers and your support!
In Peace and Love,