Dec 10, 2018

September - November 2018 Impact Report

Community Partners assisting with recovery
Community Partners assisting with recovery

St. Croix Long-Term Recovery Group

September – November 2018 Impact Report

The spirit and resiliency of a people is most strongly on display in the aftermath of a disaster. As we recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the unity of the community is vital towards the achievement of a clear and concerted vision. The St. Croix Long-term Recovery Group (LTRG) is a cooperative body that is made up of representatives from faith-based, non-profit, government, business and other organizations working within St. Croix to assist individuals and families as they recover from Hurricane Maria. The goal of the LTRG is to unite recovery resources with community needs in order to ensure that even the most vulnerable in the community recover from the disaster.

Construct and Rebuild

Cane Bay Cares, a service initiative of Cane Bay Partners LLLP, donated $45,800 to the St. Croix LTRG, a project of St. Croix Foundation and coalition of non-profit relief organizations, to fund the repair of roofs and the retrofitting of volunteer housing on St. Croix.

The funds were allocated from the disaster relief fund established between Cane Bay Cares and the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. About $30,000 of the donation will be used to repair or replace 2-4 roofs for residents in need, while $10,000 will be used to complete the retrofitting of volunteer housing at the former St. Dunstan’s School campus, and the remainder will be used toward the highest priority items.

 The Construction Rebuild Committee has been hard at work since the first volunteer team arrived on June 2, 2018. Since that time, they have hosted 21 volunteer groups. The groups have ranged in size from 7 to 40 members! In total, 275 volunteers have served and completed 14,300 hours of volunteer labor. With only 2.5 Disaster Case Managers (DCM), this committee has managed to get through 64 cases! The work is difficult and exhausting--but they are working to ensure that residents get connected to the resources they need. This committee will continue to expand in the new year to help reach even more people in need.

Disaster recovery encompasses interventions at the community level as well as with individuals and households. While there is inter-dependence between the recovery of the community’s infrastructure and the recovery of individuals and families within that community, the mechanisms for their recovery are distinctly different. Disaster casework and disaster case management are functions in support of empowering and of addressing the basic needs and recovery needs of individuals and families. Because of the DCM’s the LTRG were able to provide 30 roof repairs, 4 rebuild in-temporary housing, 9 major damage in-temporary housing, 9 minor damage (doors, windows, tiles, painting, etc.), 7 major damage in-dwelling, 5 electrical work, 5 mold removal, 9 rental assistance, and 5 roof restoration completed.

The LTRG intends to continue recruiting skilled construction teams and rebuilding the roofs of low- and fixed-income homeowners, primarily the elderly. They continue to seek funds to subsidize building material costs. But perhaps most importantly, they hope to be able to expand the program by finishing renovations on St. Dunstan’s School, which will allow them to house three times the volunteers than they can at the current location. Further repairs are needed to the St. Dunstan’s School and they also need additional vehicles and trucks for an expanded volunteer program. Presently, they are also in need of a ¾ ton crew cab truck to allow them to transport large loads of building materials with their trailer and carry additional volunteers.

Building a Better Future

Some survivors affected by the hurricanes do not meet the eligibility criteria for government disaster aid programs or will continue to have unmet needs even after receiving the maximum amount of help from the disaster recovery programs. This is where recovery groups come into play. LTRGs are locally-based teams that are committed to seeing the islands through to full recovery.  The groups are helping Virgin Islanders remove debris, feed their families and make repairs to their homes.

“The mission of the St. Croix LTRG is to help members independently provide community services on a daily basis and provide effective relief and recovery services to people affected by disaster on the island of St. Croix,” said Pastor Gary Moore, chairperson of the St. Croix LTRG. “As we transition from the emergency response phase of the disasters to long-term recovery, it is important that we come together as community leaders to communicate, cooperate, coordinate and collaborate for a more sustainable and resilient future for our entire St. Croix community.”

LTRGs will continue to bring people together to support grassroots recovery efforts and find solutions for some of the major challenges Virgin Islanders face after the disasters.

Members of the LTRG providing roofing to a family
Members of the LTRG providing roofing to a family
A Senior resident received a completed roof
A Senior resident received a completed roof
Dec 10, 2018

Moving from Shared Purpose to Shared Action

Students learn about VI-PR Friendship Day
Students learn about VI-PR Friendship Day

Our school began the academic year with a challenge to ourselves: At St. Croix Montessori, our commitment is to prepare children for life – i.e. the many, many years beyond high school. In order to raise independent, respectful, engaging adults, our school must build a healthy learning community around and focused on supporting children. Thus, how can we practice being a learning community at every level of our organization?

 This question has guided a process of alignment across our school.

 Learning Takes Order & Chaos

Hosted on campus, we began with a deep-dive lesson on complex systems and change. One of our favorite moments was discussing the chaordic process – as it is extremely complimentary to our Montessori philosophy of freedom and responsibility. Our team discussed how being in a learning community means that we invite chaos and order to coexist, recognizing that it’s this balance that allows transformation to occur. Parents and teachers self-identified with which part of the process we are most naturally comfortable (e.g. chaos or order). We discussed positive mindsets and different ways of approaching opposition, unknowing, or change.

 Some insights shared:

  • Seeing this, hearing this, reminds us to stay flexible while also creating a structure.
  • As an adult, we need to remember to step back and observe, not to jump in and control.
  • Now I understand why I love my role – it has clear, consistent parts each day – and how I can be more positive when the unexpected happens. It’s good to know this!
  • I get it! You set expectations for a child – that’s order – and chaos is the learning process and experimentation!

 Learning The Language of Strengths

Before our school reviewed alignment of our practices, we wanted to support a strong foundation of trust across our leadership teams. Our St. Croix Montessori school team, which has three (3) new faculty, and our Board of Trustees, which has four (4) new members, each took Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder and spent a day with a coach learning about strengths-based leadership, our unique individual strengths, and recognizing strengths in others. One of our exciting discoveries was how our leadership teams had strengths evenly distributed across all four domains (executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking).

St. Croix Montessori’s school team set personal and team development goals for the year that reflect our strengths. The workshop’s insights assisted in creating mentorships for the new teaching team and new Board members. Over the course of 1.5 months, our teaching team reviewed best practices, school procedures, and our day-to-day social norms. By using a strengths-based approach, we were able to quickly identify what worked well, where we needed individual support, where we needed clarification or adjustments, and which procedures did not align with our mission of having a learning community. The result was a teaching and administrative team operating in sync, having fun, appreciating and supporting one another – which transformed the relationships with families.

The workshops were so successful that the Head of School was asked by a new parent to lead the Caribbean Center for Boys and Girls Frederiksted and Christiansted teams’ professional development day and to facilitate their Youth Leaders retreat. Based on everyone’s feedback, we are preparing to launch a Parent Education event on learning strengths and using strengths-language in parenting.

 Capacity Building & Measuring Learning

Hiring early childhood teachers to stay or move to St. Croix has always been challenging. This past year was especially difficult to hire teachers, as the cost of living increased and there continues to be a lack of housing. With our Elementary class already at capacity, St. Croix Montessori is planning ahead for the need to transition to two Elementary classes (ages 6-9 and ages 9-12). It is an exciting time for our school. As our Board works to increase our physical space, we asked ourselves: What do our children and our teachers need to be actively learning today and preparing for transitions next year? How are we measuring learning?

Our school decided we needed to be creative.

We are piloting a teacher training model. We invited a consultant teacher trainer to collaborate with us throughout the year in a combination of remote and extended on-site visits. In this model, our Elementary classroom has two trained teachers available to provide all of the learning experiences for the students; we created a career pathway for an assistant; the teaching team receives ongoing coaching; and the Head of School receives feedback on how to successfully create a teacher-training pipeline to suit St. Croix Montessori’s needs.

St. Croix Montessori knows that behind these stories there’s data. However, our school had been searching for affordable assessment tools that could measure across all the domains of learning – executive functioning, academics, and social and emotional learning. In late November, our school was accepted as part of a pilot consortium. We became trained and certified in two statistically valid assessments for executive functioning and developmental learning environments. These resources allow us to more accurately self-assess and measure growth in our learning environments. We are also excited to be the first in the U.S. Virgin Islands to be trained in them!

The Year Ahead

The gift of the Global Giving community was that our school made it through over a year of hurricane recovery, and now we can focus on our true mission: access to a healthy learning community for all of St. Croix.

With gratitude,

St. Croix Montessori

Friends sharing a joke during Gratitude Feast
Friends sharing a joke during Gratitude Feast
Free Chess Club now has advanced players!
Free Chess Club now has advanced players!
Nov 20, 2018

November 2018 Impact Report

CARE Grantee, Reading Rainbow, brings the smiles
CARE Grantee, Reading Rainbow, brings the smiles

REBUILDING A BETTER ST. CROIX

CARIBBEAN ASSISTANCE AND RESILIENCY EFFORT (CARE)

Today’s report marks one year since two Category 5 Super Storms made landfall, within just 10 days of each other, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. With the majority of damage in the territory on the island of St. Croix, St. Croix Foundation continues to be a guiding and grounding voice in meetings with territorial, federal, and other recovery partners, constantly beating the drum for equity and sustainability.

We are pleased to report that because of your generosity and a strategic and collaborative approach to recovery, we have begun to move the needle from recovery to resiliency. A full year after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Virgin Islands is still reminded of what two back-to-back category 5 hurricanes can do. For while progress is indeed being made, recovery is slow: residents requiring longer than 72 hours of medical care are still being evacuated to either Puerto Rico or to U.S. mainland hospitals; on the western end of the island of St. Croix, which was the hardest hit and is home to the poorest residents of the Territory, there is still a sea of Blue Tarped Roofs; and with government systems sill compromised and offices displaced, it is our civic sector that continues to fill critical gaps.

STRATEGIC GRANTMAKING: Connecting, Healing, Teaching, and Building Capacity!

Through our CARE Fund and with the assistance from you - our global community - we were able to provide two grant cycles to our nonprofit organizations and charitable initiatives that provide programs and direct services targeting the most vulnerable and underserved populations affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Enough cannot be said of the importance of these organizations. Together, they serve hundreds of families and thousands of residents. They teach. They heal mind and body. They connect us with one another, and they advocate for those who have been hit hardest.

St. Croix Foundation’s grantmaking supports vital programs but is also designed to build capacity. Grants ranging from $7,500 to $50,000 were awarded to the following organizations:

  • AZ Academy’s – Summer STEM Project
  • Caribbean Center for Boys & Girls – Fueling the Youth
  • Choices Basketball Association – Summer Training Camp
  • Christiansted Lighthouse Mission - Electrical repair and remediation of Center and Children’s Classrooms
  • Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts, Inc. – Replacement of Equipment
  • Cruzan Cowgirls Horse Rescue – Outdoor Education Facility
  • Frederiksted Health Care – Dental Expansion
  • Men’s Coalition – Developing Youth Resiliency
  • Onyx Opera – School Tour and Opera Series
  • Music in Motion – Dance Academy
  • Good Hope Country Day School – Summer Theater Camp
  • St. Croix Walls Project – Putting Art into Recovery
  • USVI Soccer Association – School Academic & Soccer Academy
  • VI Perinatal – Cerebrovascular & Cardiovascular Initiative
  • World Ocean School – Experiential Education at Sea
  • Sejah Farms – Food Security and Sovereignty
  • Crucian Heritage & Nature Tourism, Inc. – Capacity Building
  • Elmo Plaskett East Little League – Grow the Game
  • Fresh Start – Litter Awareness Through the Arts
  • Leap and Learn Academy – Hurricane Repairs form Maria
  • Mon Bijou Homeowners Association – Disaster Risk Reduction Community Training
  • My Brother’s Workshop – Home Rebuilds
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness St. Croix – Family-to-Family Class/Support Training
  • Reading Rainbow School – Discovery After School Program
  • St. Croix Animal Welfare Center – Capacity Building
  • St. Croix Environmental Association – Environmental Awareness & Action
  • St. Croix Farmer’s in Action – Health & Healing Benefits of Coconut
  • St. Joseph Catholic High School – Fiber Optic Technician/Installer Training
  • Varied Abilities – Express Yourself: Art & Play Academy
  • Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition – Capacity Building
  • Virgin Islands Volunteer Advocates for Children – Capacity Building
  • Women’s Coalition of St. Croix – Online Advocacy Classes

While we build capacity for our civic sector, the Foundation is also working intimately with private and public-sector partners to develop and institute comprehensive resiliency strategies for St. Croix and the Territory with program components that can be activated during times of emergency and disaster. Today, St.  Croix Foundation is excited to report on two projects we are preparing to launch: our Healing through the Humanities Block Development Project and Pop Farms for Food Security Project.

RECOVERY THROUGH THE HEALING ARTS & BLOCK DEVELOPMENT

As an extension of the restoration of the old Alexander Theater, which will be transformed into the only centrally-located community disaster shelter on St. Croix as well as a state-of-the-art performing arts center, the Foundation is launching our “Healing Humanities” Project. In the past few months, St. Croix Foundation has put the final touches on the development of a plan for a creative cultural arts corridor in the center of Historic Downtown Christiansted in Sunday Market Square.

As the final phase of SCF’s original comprehensive and holistic blueprint for the Square, this community block development will foster positive economic and social activities for residents which is critical to the economic development of the town and in turn the entire island. Currently, the entire census track for this historically relevant section of downtown Christiansted is low income, thus the Foundation’s primary goal is to improve the social and emotional welfare of residents and incentivize economic activity by using creative place-making.  The overall project will specifically:

  1. decrease identified barriers to social and economic development throughout our community by using creative arts and cultural expression
  2. strengthen and expand the work of cultural organizations
  3. increase relationships within cultural projects, programs and events
  4. connect the arts and culture communities to one another
  5. develop a public art program
  6. strengthen awareness and connect creative businesses to each other
  7. provide a command center in downtown Christiansted for disaster response

To date, we have secured commitments from a consortium of civic and nonprofit partners who will work collaboratively to transform the Square into mixed use spaces, including the following:

  • Mixed use commercial spaces for local small businesses and low-income housing units

To continue the revitalization of historic spaces, the Foundation proposes restoring properties in Sunday Market Square and surrounding areas to house commercial spaces on the ground floors and low-moderate income housing units on the upper floors.

  • Small business and nonprofit incubator

Through partnerships with private sector entities, the creation of a small business and nonprofit incubator will provide mentorship and support in the form of technical and financial services for new businesses and civic organizations.

  • After school and summer culturally-themed programs

Through our partnerships with the arts and culture Nonprofit Consortium members, public and private schools will offer students in grades 3-12th opportunities to learn and create around the humanities, specifically musical/dance composition, artwork, and historic artifacts. The program will educate our students on how to incorporate today’s technology with the humanities.

  • Community forums around Caribbean and Afro-Caribbean culture

There will be four forums held throughout the year. The forums will educate the community on contemporary Caribbean Culture and how its shaped by waves of migration that have combined to form aunique blend of customs, cuisine, and traditions that have marked the socio-cultural development of the area. The Foundation’s overall objective is to provide access to and educate the community on how unique collections and scholars can collaborate to produce a digital collection of Afro-Caribbean works of art (literature).  

  • Life-long learning through our Afro-Caribbean museum

The museum will combine our local Caribbean artifacts with African artifacts collected from members in the community that have traveled through the Caribbean and African regions. Bringing these items together in downtown Christiansted, the museum will be a live learning classroom for the community to tour and learn the history of each artifact. The museum’s role will be to embrace and support lifelong learning, social change, and intercultural dialogue, encouraging participation from new audiences.

 We are rebuilding with resiliency in mind and our vision is to incentivize economic development and in turn create greater economic and social stability within our community!

  FOOD SECURITY - POP FARM STANDS

St. Croix Foundation for Community Development, in partnership with the Coca-Cola Company, is helping St. Croix businesses rebuild from the 2017 storms through its Small Business Recovery and Revitalization pilot initiative. This initiative awards eco-friendly container stores/community hubs to small businesses/farms as a vehicle for bringing businesses back on-line following Hurricanes Irma and Maria and to assist our local communities if a disaster were to impact the territory again. St. Croix is an isolated island which imports 98% of its food, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the Foundation identified food security as one of our community’s greatest needs. “Pop Farms” are steel containers that will be outfitted to store food and serve as community hubs if another disaster were to strike on island building capacity within St. Croix’s local farm stands. These resilient Pop Farms will provide communities a place with power (through solar panels and/or generators), Wi-Fi and portable water.

 LONG-TERM RESILIENCY: MOVING FORWARD

Having dedicated many years to building partnerships with both private, public, and nonprofit entities, St. Croix Foundation is poised to implement projects that will stimulate the local St. Croix economy, heal community by nurturing connections through arts and heritage, build capacity within the nonprofit sector through strategic grantmaking, and create small, sustainable community models that allow for true resiliency in the face of any disaster. At the Foundation we know that in order for our community to maximize the current flow of federal and philanthropic resources, we have to make it an intentional practice to begin with the end in mind, leveraging every dollar to go farther. That’s why every project has multiple intersection points for multiple benefits. On behalf of the community we serve, St. Croix Foundation for Community Development extends our deepest appreciation to the Global Giving community for your support and engagement.

True recovery and sustainable rebuilding cannot happen overnight, but together we can build community-based models that can be replicated throughout the Virgin Islands and the world. We hope you’ll stay with us on our journey!

Keeping our Young Men Engaged through CARE
Keeping our Young Men Engaged through CARE
Our vision for the Square and a command center
Our vision for the Square and a command center
Eco-friendly container stores/community hubs
Eco-friendly container stores/community hubs
 
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