Sep 14 / Todd

Dukes Helping Dukes

Emily, her dog, and what’s left of her house. Notice the brown in the background of what is normally an idyllic green island.

Long-time readers know that once a year or so Rob and I try to leverage our amazing community (that’s you Dukes!) to help out on the philanthropy side with things that are important to us. We ain’t the Gates Foundation, or even Barstool, but the power of the collective that this labor-of-love project has given us is nothing short of life-affirming at times. We’ve focused on Autism research and more recently, former Villanova Head Coach Andy Talley’s bone marrow foundation, Be the Match.

After Hurricane Harvey hit Texas a few weeks back we discussed whether to jump in. As many of you know – and many of you have already contributed for sure – there were/are a ton of organizations working after Harvey, and subsequently Irma in Florida and the Caribbean, on relief and assistance efforts. The good work is being done by huge, essential work from the Red Cross and large faith-based groups down to countless numbers of smaller charities and aid groups. In the end, we simply didn’t see an entry point for something beyond our minuscule individual contributions that made sense for JMUSB. Until yesterday.

An old friend of JMUSB posted something on FB that caught our attention. She’ll get proper credit eventually, but she’s a teacher and we want to make sure she’s cool with us posting her name. She posted: “I’ve known Emily Guss since college and it hurts me to the core to see her go through another tragedy. She is one of the many people affected by Hurricane Irma in the Virgin Islands that has lost everything.” And she linked to this GoFundMe Site. Of course we clicked and heard Emily’s incredible rescue story.

Emily’s name rang a bell from our time at JMU and we started checking around. Turns out our old friend had found her way to St. John where she became an Interpretive Park Ranger at Virgin Islands National Park for the National Park Service. While it’s easy to say something like “ah, those lucky bastards who move to the islands don’t need a bailout,” we happen know a few other things too. First, NPS Interpreters make like 30k annually and certainly aren’t a group of fat cats. More importantly, Emily is the real deal and she’s had a really tough go of it lately. That’s not for us to go into, but when she says she “hates to ask for help,” we know she means it. Her own FB post (yes, we are editing this to stick to the mission and protect the innocent ha) explains this much better than we can:

Friends & family…I’ve been asked by many of you about how you can help me…I thought it would be easiest to answer all at 1 time! I hate to ask for help…but I could definitely use it now!
1. First of all, your friendship means more to me than anything…especially love, encouragement, support, & strength during this difficult time. I will need you…& I greatly appreciate you!
2. Two sweet friends, [names redacted] started a gofundme for me & my division at the park. There are 5 of us in the interpretive division…3 of us lost everything. The link is on my page.
3. Send me cards, letters…& chocolate! The park address here is 2100 Church St. #100, Christiansted VI 00820
4. Please donate to the whole community of St John.

Obviously we haven’t been able to talk with Emily, and honestly she’d probably never remember us to begin with, but we did enough checking around with our mutual friends to know Emily’s a true Duke worthy of the JMU Nation’s love and support (and that we’re confident the friends that set up the page are legit). And of all the things we can do to help after these devastating storms, a small gesture supporting a place (St. John) that means the world to me and my family and may be overlooked relative to Texas and Florida, a group of employees at one of the government’s best endeavors (NPS), and a Duke Dog at that, was an absolute no-brainer.

So here’s how we’re going to do our tiny part. JMUSB is going to give $1 for every point scored by the Dukes against Norfolk St. this week. Yes, we hope that’ll be a lotta points! If you can do the same, awesome. But every little bit helps. What we’d really love is to get a whole bunch of small donations on that page with a “Go Dukes!” message to let Emily and her friends know JMU cares. If that page gets up to 50 individual donations of $5 or more in the next week with a “Go Dukes!” message written in, we’ll add another $50 to our point-total donation. So if the Dukes score 100 and 50 people give $5 and write “Go Dukes!” we’ll make it $150.

Oh yeah, maybe in addition to the cards, letters and chocolate, send Emily some purple and gold greetings! As always, Go Dukes!

One Comment

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  1. Daniel / Sep 14 2017

    Done – Can always get on board with this.

    FYI – if people donate anonymously I think their comment can’t be seen besides the organizer, so hopefully people notice that so you guys can get an accurate tally.

    Go Dukes.

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