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Ormond Beach Observer Saturday, Sep. 7, 2019 11 months ago

Ormond Beach resident organizes relief effort for his native Grand Bahama island

Joseph Nixon was born and raised in Freeport, and now is hoping to lend a hand to his fellow Bahamians at their time of most need.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

The hardest part for Joseph Nixon is not knowing.

The Freeport native said he believes he's not alone in that sentiment. As Hurricane Dorian ravaged through Grand Bahama and the Abaco Island at a category 5 strength, all that the Bahamians who were abroad could do was wait, see the news stories, and hope their loved ones were safe.

“It was hard to sleep," said Nixon, who now lives in Ormond Beach. "It was pretty devastating, especially not being able to speak to your family members as well, and just hoping that someone would say they had seen them.”

Nixon moved from Grand Bahama to Florida to attend the University of Central Florida, but most of his family still lives on the island.

After the storm, Nixon said he felt helpless. He and his wife thought about organizing a relief effort for the islands, but he wanted to make sure it was reputable — one people could see where their money and donations went.

So Nixon, together with a friend who owns shipping company Elnet Maritime Agency, and the help of Interiors by Steven G's warehouse in Pompano Beach, has organized an aid effort for the Bahamas. The local drop-off point is located inside the Outreach Community Care Network building at 240 N. Frederick Ave. in Daytona Beach. In just one day, Nixon and his partners Brittany Presley and Dr. Chester Wilson collected several dozen items, including donations from Palm Terrace Elementary.

Wilson, executive director of Outreach Community Care Network, an HIV support nonprofit organization, said it was important to partner with someone who knew firsthand the plight of the island. 

“Putting a face to it also made the effort that much greater," Wilson said. "I’m really, really thankful for the community that showed up.”

Nixon is no stranger to helping communities. He's the Youth Opportunity Investments vice president of the Florida operations, and works with juvenile delinquents. Organizing the relief effort is just another way he hopes to make an impact.

“We’re just trying to band together and do something for humanity, basically," Nixon said.

His wife Martha said people can bring in their leftover hurricane supplies too. If you can donate, she said, please bring it in.

“Whatever you can spare — clothing, shoes — because people have lost everything," she said.

The Bahamians are caring, resilient and good people, he said. With the islands' proximity to the U.S., he hopes people are moved to support the relief efforts in whatever way they can. Thankfully, he's heard from most of his immediate family, save for a few cousins. Some of his friends are struggling, and it's been tough seeing them all suffer. 

“We have a saying in the Bahamas:‘We are all one family,’" Nixon said. "Basically, we’re family, and so when our community needs us, we step up.”

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