Relief for Victims of Volcanic Eruption in St. Vincent Island: New Jersey
On Friday, April 9, 2021, La Soufriere, the largest volcano on the island of St. Vincent, erupted for the first time in 42 years. Hot ash, lava and gases moving at more than 120 mph, destroyed everything in their path, disrupting water and food supply, transportation and generally, life on the island.
In response to this crisis, various Sri Sathya Sai Centers in the New Jersey area partnered with GLAM (Giving Life Anew Meaning), a not-for-profit, to provide supplies to those affected by the volcanic eruption. GLAM, founded by Mrs. Isabelle Lewis in 2011, strives to provide a multitude of educational supplies and general resources to people living in the Caribbean islands, such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Mrs. Lewis stated, “Our motto is to enhance education for the children. Education is the key that opens many doors, no matter how poor you are. I was born in poverty and despair, but I climbed up myself, so I need to look back now and help others.”
Members of Sri Sathya Sai Centers of New Jersey have been providing supplies to those in need on the islands for the past five years through their partnership with GLAM. When the volcano erupted, Sai volunteers stepped up to help affected victims on St. Vincent Island by collecting and shipping much needed relief supplies. This included clothing, shoes, canned and non-perishable foods, hygiene supplies, first aid kits, baby diapers, formula, adult diapers, sanitizers and water.
On June 12, 2021, several volunteers, including Sai Center members, gathered in Cherry Hill, NJ to organize and pack barrels of various supplies for shipping to afflicted families in St. Vincent. Many Sai volunteers were inspired by the dedication of Mrs. Lewis. One young adult expressed, "Mrs. Lewis beautifully summed up what service is: love. For me, there is no better reason to do service, and the joy that comes with it. As Mrs. Lewis reminded us, we have one thing in common - we want to grow, grow in love.” Another described the service as “deriving joy from the collective energy of working together for a common selfless purpose.”
The goal was to supply 200 families with more than 30 large barrels filled to the brim with supplies, a goal that was achieved through the combined efforts of GLAM and the volunteers. Because of the Sai Centers’ history with the GLAM community, Sai volunteers will continue to assist people in St. Vincent recover from the natural disaster.