By Brian Sherman, Island Eye News Managing Editor,
The connection between Hopetown, located on Elbow Cay in the Abaco Islands, and the Lowcountry extends beyond the fact that Holly Thompson once lived on the Isle of Palms and now co-owns a real estate company in the Bahamas.
Shortly after the end of the American Revolution, Wyannie Malone, a Charleston native, left the Holy City and settled in Hopetown with three of her four children. A museum established in 1978 was named in her honor.
Hopetown and Charleston share another similarity: They both are susceptible to the wrath of Mother Nature. Lowcountry residents remember the destruction caused by Hugo in 1989; those who call Hopetown home are still reeling from a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian in early September 2019.
There is hope in Hopetown, however, thanks in part to The Restore Hope Foundation, a nonprofit launched by Thompson and her husband, Chris, who is her business partner and whose family has been in The Bahamas for 11 generations.
Since last October, the Foundation has raised more than $1.2 million, funds that have been used to restore electrical power, clear roadways, renovate the Hope Town Clinic, plant palm trees and help build a playground and community center – and, of course, rebuild the roof of the Wyannie Malone Historical Museum.
Hopetown has come a long way in the past year, according to Thompson, an IOP resident until around seven years ago.
“The storm pretty much wiped out Elbow Cay,” Thompson commented. “It wiped out power, infrastructure, banks and grocery stores. The streets were impassible. There wasn’t one house that wasn’t touched by Dorian in some way.”
In addition to rebuilding Hopetown and Elbow Cay, the Foundation was instrumental in moving two families who had lost their homes in the islands to the Charleston area so their children would be able to attend school. “People from Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island gave money and clothes for the kids.
People just started calling and asking what they could do to help,” Thompson said. “The Restore Hope Foundation has restored so many lives throughout our small island community.”
She pointed out that the Foundation still has work to do and that donations are welcome. To help out, visit restorehopefoundation.com.