Virgin Islands VOICES: 15-year-old Liliana Martinez helps her STJ community after storms

A new segment here on CBS USVI- Virgin Islands Voices, highlighting the incredible people of the islands. In our first story, USVI Correspondent Kellie Meyer shares the story of a young woman, going to lengths to help her St. John community.


For Liliana Martinez, St. John is home. So when Hurricane Irma hit last fall and she wasn’t here, the then 15-year-old quickly went into rescue mode.
“When I was in the states, my Mom called me first, when she got service on the second floor of Ronnies, she was like, ‘no one is down here, Im feeding 11 kids, and a bunch of adults and their parents, and we’re running out of food and water and no one is on the ground yet, and it’s just ridiculous’, I was like ok, that kind of fired something in me, “Liliana Martinez a rising senior at Gifft Hill School in St. John said.
Martinez hung up the phone and immediately started making calls of her own, to anyone who would listen.
“I was calling FEMA and the Red Cross, like, why aren’t you guys already down there it’s been 3 or 4 days, you guys have the resources to get to these places and pretty much they were like we’re waiting for Florida to get hit.” I don’t like the response I got, I’m gonna do something,” she said.
Shocked by what she heard and determined to do something, Martinez took matters into her own hands. Like going to CNN to deliver the story of St. John first hand and hosting a food drive at her old school where she was in Alpharetta, Georgia.
“We got a lot of supplies from them. And then I went to Home Depot I told them the story of St. John, they ended up donating some stuff, and LuLu Lemon donated the little small bags, so I could make goodie bags for everybody, Cliff Bar donated about 1500 protein bars,” Martinez added.
Two days after her birthday, Martinez returned home. It was her birthday present she said. But she came with gifts for others.
“I was able to come back, get back to school, and give all those supplies out, I was able to bring back down, but it was really rewarding to be able to help my friends and family.”
The now 16-year enjoys going for runs on the Island she calls home and continues to look for ways to help the people around her. Forever humble about what she did for them.
“I don’t think it is me that needs to be thanked it’s all of St. John that needs to be thanked because they’re kind of what has made St. John come back, and what drove me to be passionate about helping.”
For now, Liliana spends her time at St. Johns Scoops in Mongoose Junction before she starts her senior year, hoping that another Hurricane isn’t going to come their way, but if it does, she’ll be here to help.