NEWPORT, R.I. — The people of Virgin Gorda, one of the British Virgin Islands that Hurricane Irma devastated, are in desperate need of help and one of the island’s key employers is trying to provide it.
“We’re the biggest employer on the island, so it’s incumbent on us to take care of them,” John Glynn, sales and marketing vice president at the Bitter End Yacht Club and Resort, said at the Newport International Boat Show on Sept. 14. “The people are what make the BVI so special.”
The club, which was heavily damaged in the storm, has set up a fund to help get resources to the island, hit hard by the Category 5 hurricane. Club customers have sent questions about people by name, Glynn told Trade Only Today.
“For our guests, for our visitors, it is family,” said Glynn, who is based in Connecticut and has worked at the club for 31 years.
“We are getting a banner right now to hang over this,” Glynn said, gesturing to the backdrop to his boat show booth. “This isn’t what it’s about right now.”
Glynn said he has vetted many — though not all yet — of the fundraisers on a BVI relief site that has been widely circulated and aggregates several others. Glynn pointed to Richard Branson’s Virgin fundraising site and the Virgin Gorda Relief Supply Fund as being reputable.
On the opening morning of VIP day at the Newport show the Virgin Gorda & Bitter End Yacht Club Staff Irma Relief Fund raised nearly $5,000. It has raised more than $180,000 to date for the people of the island.
Glynn also gave credit to the “Puerto Rican Navy,” boaters with big sportfishing convertibles who have been delivering supplies to the island.
“The Puerto Rican boating crowd has been wonderfully helpful. They’ve sent at least four different flotillas of support boats, 70 or 80 miles, going to Tortola, Virgin Gorda — the outpouring …” Glynn trailed off. “They were willing to rush headlong into [Hurricane] Jose to help. … There’s a reason there’s a star on their state flag.”
Several images and a video feed of the club have circulated among social media, prompting a small crowd of people to gather around Glynn’s table.
When guests approached to ask about the club, Glynn was visibly conflicted between being a gracious and appreciative marketing vice president and being uncomfortable discussing structures when so many people were suffering.
“Whenever I can, I shift the focus to the human side of things because that is what is most important,” Glynn said during a brief moment when the crowd had momentarily dispersed. “Basic plumbing, basic electricity, food and shelter. This is what is most important.”
Soundings Trade Only will continue to cover relief and recovery efforts related to hurricanes Irma and Harvey in the months to come.