Recently, a crew of volunteers from ShadeScapes Americas headed to St. John in the US Virgin Islands with a unique gift -- the gift of shade. The ShadeScapes team installed 50 elegant, long-lasting umbrellas at 22 locations on the island, comprised of restaurants and schools that suffered devastating damage during Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The people of St. John have shown incredible resilience during this time of rebuilding and Jo Moniak Edmondson, Founder and CEO of ShadeScapes Americas, wanted her company to contribute to the recovery. Moniak Edmondson has owned a home on the island since the late '80s and feels a strong connection to the people who make St. John such a special community, and she's not the only one. St. John has a huge community of support stateside and as the St. John Shade Project was formed, stories of people with ties to both Colorado and St. John emerged.
"While it might not be obvious on the surface, the communities of St. John and the North Fork Valley have a lot of similarities," says Edmondson, "Both places enjoy a casual lifestyle and are fueled by the passions and hard work of small businesses. We all care deeply about our communities and are there to support one another through the good and the bad. When we started hearing from other Coloradans who love both places, it really brought to light the impact that travel makes on people and affirmed that giving has no boundaries."
ShadeScapes Americas took 50 umbrellas to island restaurants and schools, a commercial value of $65,800. Originally, the company committed to donating 30, but found the need to be much greater and decided to cover the cost of bringing more umbrellas by donating 25 percent of the company's outlet sales back to the project. ShadeScapes handled all the logistics of getting the donation to the island, recruited volunteers from both St. John and Colorado, and installed the umbrellas during the week of Valentine's Day.
Edmondson visited the island in December to identify recipients. Since then, she has been working remotely to collect specific needs and measurements for each of the 22 locations.
A "small world" story: When Edmondson posted ShadeScapes' plan to donate umbrellas on the stateside St. Johnians Alliance for Hurricane Irma Facebook page, she heard from a member of the Todd family who lives on the island. Growing up, he spent summers in Paonia on his grandfather's ranch and really appreciated the effort to help. So, he supplied tools and building supplies for the installations.
A portion of proceeds from all ShadeScapes sales are going toward the purchase of additional umbrellas.
For 15 years, Hotchkiss-based ShadeScapes Americas has been at the forefront of outdoor design by bringing beautifully crafted, architectural-grade umbrellas to North America. From Belgium to South Africa, Quebec to Germany, ShadeScapes partners with international manufacturers to serve design professionals, businesses and residential buyers. ShadeScapes was named a Colorado Company to Watch in 2017.
See www.shadescapes americas.com for more details.