• By: Sofia Donato

Hope For Bahamas: How one Ottawa couple plans to assist the survivors of Hopetown

A day after Hurricane Dorian flattened his ‘other hometown’ of Hopetown in the Abaco Islands, Bahamas, Mike Beun loaded his pickup with supplies, a generator and chainsaws. Driving through the hurricane as it blasted North Carolina, he hit Miami, chartered a boat and headed to Hopetown to help his neighbours there.

Hurricane Dorian left dozens dead, thousands homeless and billions in damage. Known as the most intense tropical cyclone to strike the Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian was classified as a Category 5 Hurricane. This hurricane impacted the lives of many, while bringing people together to help others. 

Along with some friends and well known chefs; Cheryl T. McKenzie, Rene Rodriquez, Joe Thottungal, Neil Mather, Michael Blackie, Kenton Leier, Clifford Lyness and Steph the Grilling Gourmet, Mike and his wife, Jean Spicer, are holding a Bahamian-inspired fundraiser on November 21, 2019.

Their goal is to generate up to $50,000. All proceeds will directly help continue to feed locals and support the local volunteer fire and rescue department in their efforts to rebuild. The event, Hope for Bahamas, will take place at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Kanata from 5:30 pm to 9 pm.

The fundraiser will be an exciting culinary evening, featuring celebrity chefs, vintners and breweries. As well, the energetic TV host and auctioneer, Derick Fage will be present to host the live and silent auctions. Live entertainment is included.

The couple, from Dunrobin, have previously assisted to those in need in their community during various disasters. During the devastating 2017 Constance Bay spring floods and the 2018 Dunrobin tornado, they volunteered and opened their home to survivors.

“The residents there have lost it all: their school, community centre, library, police station, post office and businesses. And they don’t have a fall back: most of the people there have multiple jobs – the guy who rents you a bike also waits tables and rents out mooring balls in the harbour. All that is gone,” says Jean Spicer, whose property was one of just 30 per cent that survived the devastation.

“Because of their isolation, being a tiny little cay and having relatively shallow water, it’s hard to get heavy equipment in there. There’s no dock, no ferries. No grocery store. There are volunteers feeding hundreds of people three meals a day, but someone has to pay for that,” she adds.

With the generous support from their friends, all with a strong affinity to Hopetown, Mike and Jean are raising money in hopes to help support their neighbours in Hopetown. To help the couple support the survivors of the hurricane, click here for a ticket to the fundraising event, Hope for Bahamas!