Give More HUGS (GMH) began in 2013 as a thought in Dominica by our founder Chris McGilvery. With the encouragement of friends and family, GMH blossomed into a full functioning 501C3 nonprofit organization. It had been nearly 3 years since GMH held a structured event on the island and in November 2015 dreams came true. The first GMH #HUGS4Dominica Service Trip was originally scheduled for September 2015, but was postponed due to Tropical Storm Erika.
Nine local villages were declared disaster zones, nearly a dozen schools were displaced due to damages (some of them permanently closed), and many families lost everything. The local airport was rendered unsafe and roads were badly damaged due to sinkholes and landslides. During the recovery period of nearly 2 months, Dominica was only accessible by boat or helicopter, while surrounding islands and other countries worked to lend a helping hand to make transportation possible.
“The extent of the devastation is monumental. We have, in essence, to rebuild Dominica.” -Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit
The trips focus was to strengthen existing relationships with school programs, local business, and educational leaders in Dominica and provide encouragement to students and families. GMH packed 12 barrels with school supplies, extracurricular sporting equipment, books, art supplies, gardening equipment, and more. The barrels were shipped via Tropical Shipping and made their way to the island to be sorted and organized by Ross University School of Medicine volunteers. Among the school supplies, there were also medical relief items put together by an amazing medical supply company, AFYA Foundation. Two compact wheelchairs, four bedside commodes, six walkers, hundreds of adult diapers, medical kits, and much more were delivered to clinics, hospitals, elderly care centers, and individual family homes on the island.
The schedule consisted of multiple fundraising activities and 8 school visits. At each school program, GMH leadership met with the principal, teaching staff, and individual classrooms to engage with students. Classrooms participated in our #words2motivateyou campaign, leadership activities, and the creation of a wall mural which was left to inspire students to keep learning and working towards a bright future. The words for each mural were chosen by the 6th grade class at Sineku Primary School to represent what it means to be “Dominica Strong”. Children, teaching staff, volunteers, and business leaders received their very own Dominica Strong T-shirt to express their commitment in building a better future.
(Image: Children of the Salybia Primary School located in the Kalinago Territory show their strength by painting a mural for their school.)Our team is motivated to go above and beyond to help rebuild the island and we hope that individuals, communities, and businesses of Dominica (including Ross University School of Medicine) will continue to support us. We also hope, through this trip, the families of Dominica are able to see that their resilience and strength inspire and motivate not only our team