Abbotsford pair assist after Philippines typhoon

Joel Trask and Julie Thorne participate in Young Pioneer Disaster Response's revitalization efforts.

Julie Thorne and Joel Trask are shown in front of one of YPDR’s phase three model homes.

Julie Thorne and Joel Trask are shown in front of one of YPDR’s phase three model homes.

In the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda (known internationally as Haiyan), two Abbotsford youth headed to the Philippines to help in the aftermath on Bantayan Island.

Joel Trask, a 2011 graduate of W. J. Mouat Secondary, and Julie Thorne, a 2009 graduate of Rick Hansen Secondary, joined with Young Pioneer Disaster Response (YPDR), a non-profit group committed to long-term revitalization efforts.

Trask joined YPDR in February 2014, interrupting his backpacking trip to help and leading construction crews building YPDR model homes for local beneficiaries.

With experience as a carpenter, Trask trained locals in safe, storm-strengthened building models.

Following her graduation from York University in 2014, Thorne headed to YPDR headquarters on Bantayan Island, joining forces with the fundraising, media and editing teams.

She has a degree in communications and English, and has helped the new organization produce and finalize internal and promotional materials.

The pair, who were strangers until Thorne’s arrival to the island, said they are enthusiastic about the work YPDR is doing.

“YPDR has the best NGO (non-governmental organization) model I’ve come across,” Thorne said. “None of our foreign staff or volunteers are compensated. Only local employees get a paycheque. And no salaries means that our funds go that much farther in helping here. It’s one of the reasons I came.”

To assist Trask and Throne with their efforts, donations can be made at