Rock ‘N’ Relief June 8: Bocas del Toro Community Unites to Benefit Fire Victims

It’s times like these, you gotta love the community spirit of Bocas del Toro; through the good times and the bad.

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Well on April 13, 2024, there were some seriously bad times when a fire broke out at 5 am and raged through the Bocas Town center, consuming two structures in their entirety and rendering others inoperable. Fortunately, no human lives were claimed, no reported injuries, though sadly, three dogs perished. The property damage was significant, affecting seven businesses, with 40 people losing their jobs overnight. The affected businesses were Red Snapper, Annie’s Place, Rukel, Reggaeland, Om Cafe, Ocean Sky Bocas Hotel (formerly Azul Paradise) and Buena Vista.

In our coverage of the tragic fires, many kind-hearted concerned readers reached out with messages of “how can I help?” and “where do I donate?” And to those questions, we can now answer: there is a relief effort! This effort is in the form of an online donation campaign and a fundraising event on June 8, 2024 at Space Bocas: Rock ‘N’ Relief.

Fundraising Link: https://give.floatingdoctors.com/campaign/583013/donate

Rotary Club Bocas del Toro, Give and Surf, Floating Doctors and The Bocas Breeze got together to produce this donation page on a platform Floating Doctors uses to receive contributions toward their community medical service. These donations are 501(c)3 US tax deductible and it’s important to note that on this particular page, the contributions are for the fire relief effort and not for Floating Doctors’ regular medical service operations.

On May 6, Kathleen DeDona Harris, President of Hannig Environmental Research Organization (HERO) announced a matching 2-1 grant for all dollars donated to the Fire Relief fund up to $5,000. At the time of the publication, $2,802 has been raised on the fundraising link, and with HERO’s 2 to 1 matching, it brings the current total to $7,802.

Bocas del Toro fire relief donation link screenshot

June 8 Rock ‘N’ Relief at Space Bocas

The community of Bocas del Toro is no stranger to getting together for music, drinks and raffle prizes in the name of a worthy cause, so naturally, a good ole fashion fundraiser event was in order.

Join us on June 8, 2024, at Space Bocas, in solidarity with the fire victims, for live music from six bands, two DJs and over 40 amazing prizes to win, donated from the local business community for a raffle and an auction. All raffle ticket sales and auction items will benefit the cause.

One anonymous reader of The Bocas Breeze wanted to make the raffle more interesting so they went ahead and bought credit for two round trip tickets on Flytrip for the Bocas-Panama City route. Amazing! Another notable prize is the donation of an amazing art piece by Julie Jorgensen “Suckerpunch,” apropos as this tragedy feels like a sneak attack on the victims and our community. The bidding for the artwork (below) will take place online and will start before the event, so stay tuned to The Bocas Breeze Facebook. Check out the full list of raffle prizes below.

Rock 'n' Raffle Raffle Prizes Bocas del Toro fire victim relief
Rock n Relief Bocas del Toro

The bands and DJs are graciously donating their talents for the occasion. There will be guest chefs selling food (Angel Peña of Chubys and Caribbean Flavor by Derrick) and an artisan market, to which their vendor fees benefit the relief fund. There is also a limited edition fundraising t-shirt, available at the event.

Liby Cheung, owner of Space Bocas, has committed to donating 70% of the day’s gross sales from the bar, which is essentially 100% of the profit. This is huge!  If you are one to enjoy a cold beer or cocktail, know that you are imbibing for a worthy cause on June 8 at Space. Thank you Liby! Logistical contributions for the day’s entertainment have been contributed by Cerveceria Nacional Panama, Tropical Bar Discotec and Filthy Friday.

The entrance costs $3. The event is from 2pm to 2am at Space Bocas, located on Calle 3ra, on the corner of Avenida B, just past Buena Vista restaurant, across the street from where the tragic fires occurred. On Google Maps.

Today the organizers received the exciting news that Bocas del Toro mayor Emiliano Torres has granted permission to close the street in front of Space. There will be a stage set up in the street, courtesy of Panama beer company. We’re not calling it a “block party,” since this tragedy is nothing to celebrate. However, expect a big stage concert vibe with ample space to host 12 hours of community unity. It will be an interesting scene, as the backdrop behind the stage is the actual scene of the fire.

Space Bocas

Fund Allocation

There are two goals of this fundraiser: (1) to support the clean-up effort and (2) to provide assistance to the people who lost their primary source of income; 50% will be dedicated toward the clean-up effort for those who were uninsured and paid out of pocket, while the other 50% will be made available to the employees and owner-operators who have struggled to make ends meet since losing work.

Anyone affected who would like to benefit from the fundraiser should apply before June 15. Applications have been sent directly to each business, there are copies currently at Buena Vista restaurant and they will be available at the June 8 event. The applications will processed and the distribution of funds will be decided by a committee including the organizers and other community leaders.

Job Relocations

At the time of this publication, there are at least nine of the employees who are still completely out of work. Others have been able to find part-time positions and are actively seeking more hours. This group is made up of hardworking locals with restaurant, hotel, customer service, maintenance and cleaning experience. Please keep them in mind if you become aware of a suitable job opportunity. The organizers of this effort are happy to help make the connection. Reach out to The Bocas Breeze: editor@thebocasbreeze.com or +507 6537-0405

Thank you to everyone who has supported this noble cause thus far. See you Saturday, June 8 at Space Bocas! Coming to the event? RSVP on Facebook and help spread the word by sharing the event flyers around on social media. 

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The Bocas Breeze is a digital and print newspaper proudly serving the Bocas del Toro community since 2004; reporting news, advertising local businesses and promoting tourism in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

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