In 2015 Hurricane Joaquin slammed into the southern islands of The Bahamas with a vengeance. Thousands of Bahamians and residents on those islands were impacted by the Category-4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 132 miles per hour.
The six southern islands fortunately, had large amounts of family in other islands of The Bahamas, many who had a deep love of the people, and within 24 hours of the storm ravaging the shores, HeadKnowles Hurricane 1st Responders was born. A group of women Gina Knowles, being one of them, and always known as ‘da HeadKnowles’ rallied together with a simple mandate, ‘Let’s Save the South!’
Drop off locations were secured with Lana Lee Brogdon, President, New Oriental Cleaners, and a Distribution Center with Krystynia Lee d’Arville, Vice President of Furniture Plus. What began as a few family and friends coming together, became a movement of epic proportions! The HeadKnowles Facebook Group, started by Gina Knowles and at the time had over 2500 members, jumped into action. With strong support from hundreds within the private sector many were evacuated along with thousands of pounds of relief aid flown and taken by boat to the devastated islands. ‘Save Our South’ became the mantra printed in major newspapers and over social media. The dawn of a new day, and a new way was cemented in history and for the future.
Gina Knowles is a born humanitarian. Anyone that spends time with her realizes very quickly that her heart surrounds her and is worn more than on her sleeve. She will feel your joy and pain in equal doses and move mountains to find the solution to a crisis faced by those in need.
In August 2017 Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 storm, crashed onto Abaco and Grand Bahama, followed by Hurricane Matthew a Category 4 storm that hit Exuma, Nassau and the western side of Grand Bahama. Once again, the HeadKnowles Hurricane Relief 1st Responders rallied together to send supplies and raise funds to get the islands back together.
In November of 2018, search and rescue efforts had been unsuccessful in locating a plane that had crashed, piloted by Byron Ferguson who happened to be a childhood friend of Rhondi Treco, one of Gina’s best friends. Rhondi called Andrew, Gina’s husband who operates the charter company owned by Gina and Andrew, Live 2 Fish and advised of the crisis, convinced that if anyone could find the plane he could.
Gina put out an SOS call for Certified Padi divers, and on the 8th day after the crash, Live 2 Fish, captained by Andrew headed out with 18 divers in an effort to locate the plane. Within twenty-two minutes a wing was found! Forty-eight (48) hours later a deep-sea instructor was brought in to inspect the site, dove to six-hundred feet and located additional debris and the trail of the planes’ fuselage. The family could finally find some peace knowing what had happened.
In December of 2018, a family faced with a devastating fire lost their entire home. One of the Firemen on the ground reached out to Gina for help. In coordination with the fireman and his team, she helped fundraise for relief supplies and provide the family with assistance in getting their home built. This family was followed by another eight (8) homes that were devastated by fire and Gina worked tirelessly to raise funds to assist in them getting them back on their feet.
On September 1st, 2019 the monster Hurricane Dorian hit the northern islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama as a Category 5 storm; the strongest hurricane to strike the Bahamas since records began in 1851. Sustained winds of 185mph that moved at the slowest rate in history within a 24-hour period since Hurricane Betsy, massacred the island of Abaco and sat for forty-eight (48) hours over Grand Bahama wreaking havoc and devastation.
In the aftermath of one of the deadliest hurricanes the Bahamas has ever experienced, it became obvious to Gina and all HKers, that this was bigger than the HeadKnowles Hurricane Relief 1st Responders had ever handled, and so the HeadKnowles Foundation was formed.
Immediately teams were mobilized to get emergency supplies to communities and families in the devastated islands and cays of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
HKF is proud to play a pivotal role in a multi-sector coalition that includes the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Service Clubs, the private sector, local and international NGOs, churches and international donors and thousands of dedicated volunteers, here and abroad, doing whatever it takes to bring safety and security to the survivors of this deadly storm.
HKF is coordinating with teams on the ground, with over 30 planes, hundreds of boaters, and thousands of volunteers in Nassau, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera. Everyone is working tirelessly to receive and distribute food, water and supplies. Our priority is ensuring that our brothers and sisters from the Northern Bahamas have what they need to survive. We currently have thousands of pounds of hurricane relief supplies being donated from local and international partners, however, funds to support fuel for emergency boats and planes traveling to the islands and the purchase of essential supplies is still needed at this time. A donation of cash will help those that need it most.
The road ahead to restoring and rebuilding our communities after Dorian, both short-term relief and sustainable recovery is a great undertaking. HeadKnowles Foundation is committed to working together with all of our partners to help these communities put their lives back together.
HeadKnowles Foundation is a registered Not-for-Profit organization and committed to helping The Bahamas, its families and communities in times of need. HKF welcomes partnerships with other groups and is known as a Charity for charities. We are passionate about our Bahama land that believes in doing whatever we can to assist.
Welcome to the HeadKnowles Foundation.