Just in time for Thanksgiving-2017, the volunteer organization, Adopt A Family, USVI, collected and shipped gifts, with personalized notes, from “adopters” who responded to wish lists posted by families impacted by damaging hurricanes which swept across the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) in 2017. The shipment was received by the Central Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Pathfinder Club on St. Croix. Pathfinders and their leaders volunteered their time to prepare care packages which distributed to the community on November 25, 2017.
The founders of the volunteer organization, Pam Engle and Sabrina Jureidini, first met online in the aftermath of the destruction wrought by hurricanes. Pam Engle had worked as head of fundraising at a St. Thomas, USVI, but lost her job and her home as a result of the hurricanes. She has since moved, with her young children, to the Philadelphia. Sabrina Jureidini and her husband, who also have children, lived on St. Thomas until 2014 and now live in Virginia. With a staff of 14 volunteers, the organization coordinates collecting and shipping items selected from posted wish lists, including canned goods, personal items, toiletries and infant supplies. Pam and Sabrina are amazed by the generous response of “adopters”.
Pathfinder Royann-Blossom Philbert echoed the eagerness of club members to participate in the care-package preparation, “I have to go and help pack for those [left] in need [by] the hurricane.” And, Pathfinder Mariska Beresford identified with individuals who have been affected by the hurricanes, “They are people like you and .” Club leaders felt heartened by the opportunity to share in the lives of others as Director Fleming expressed to the Pathfinders: “Even while participating in this recovery, you can feel the love of those who care for us. Look at the notes in the boxes. That’s the kind of love we want to share with youths, like you, out there.”
The personalized notes of compassion struck a chord with the Pathfinders and leaders. Sister Brown shared, “It’s such a morale booster. Just to see the notes us at what [was] going on while they were being packaged.” One note signed by a family of four, including Owen (almost 7) and Andrew (4), read: “Dear hurricane survivor, we live far away in Washington state, but the USVI have been in our thoughts these last months. We hope you are recovering from those monster hurricanes and that you and your family are safe and healthy. Stay strong – the Virgin Islands are not forgotten.” Club leaders are already planning for the Pathfinders who participated to record their thanks so Adopt A Family, USVI, can share the responses with “adopter” families.
The Central SDA Church is one of eight congregations on St. Croix. It is the largest congregation in the North Caribbean Conference with a membership of 1,779. The church has an active youth ministry and the Pathfinder Club caters to 45 youth, from age 10 to 15.