Finding Meaningful Community Service Projects in the BVI

Building Miss Ivy’s Home

When you think of the British Virgin Islands, you may think of the idyllic travel destination for a winter getaway. But do you think about a location for meaningful community service projects?

In 1992, VISIONS launched a teen community service program in the British Virgin Islands with a high impact project that created one of our deepest and longest lasting partnerships. The local Ministry of Health and Social Development had asked VISIONS to help the community construct needed housing for some of their residents. The homes would be basic but needed to be elevated and sturdy enough to withstand hurricanes.

The first candidate for a new home was Miss Ivy, a local elder who was homeless and partially blind. The crew built the home and Ivy chose the colors—bold and bright. To add special touches, VISIONS teens carved the patio balusters by hand—each one a different island theme. One teen repurposed an old chair back into a colorful wall decor for her front entry. A photo taken at the completion of the home shows Miss Ivy proudly standing on her new porch.

After a particularly harsh hurricane season, Father David Stedman of the Anglican Church in Sea Cows Bay community called then VISIONS Director, Joanne Pinaire, to report that Miss Ivy’s new house was unscathed. He was amazed with the quality of the home because most of the houses in that neighborhood had been severely damaged.

In fact, the Ministry of Health and Social Development was so impressed with the construction of the first home, it opened doors for VISIONS continued work on the islands. The VISIONS British Virgin Islands program has been running ever since.

As the community needs have changed over time, the work of the VISIONS BVI program has evolved to address those new needs. It’s been a number of years since the program has built homes, but the tradition of meaningful community service continues. The work now includes a variety of smaller construction projects, volunteering with a humane society and environmental initiatives through the National Park Trust.

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