Philbert Samuels, pictured here with his family, has come from Jamaica to Bar Harbor to work at the Bar Harbor Inn through the H2B visa program for the last 18 seasons. Samuels was recently diagnosed with kidney failure, a disease that runs in his family. Friends of Samuels are hoping to help him cover some of the cost of his treatment through a GoFundMe page. PHOTOS COURTESY RACHEL CRATER

MDI community rallies for sick seasonal worker

BAR HARBOR — Philbert Samuels, a man from Jamaica who has worked at the Bar Harbor Inn for the last 18 seasons through the H2B Visa program, has been diagnosed with kidney failure. And his friends are hoping the community he has served for almost two decades can help.

Sophia Bell, a fellow Jamaican here through the H2B program who works at Witham Family Limited Partners, described Samuels’ joy and smile as “infectious.” She has set up a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of his treatment.

“With kidney failure running in his family, Philbert knew that one day the disease would likely catch up with him,” Bell said. “What he didn’t realize was that it would be this year, at the beginning of the summer season in Bar Harbor, that provides work to support him, his children, foster children and extended family.”

Samuels spent two weeks in the hospital while providers ran tests and tried medications, and he underwent dialysis before being healthy enough to be discharged. But Bell and friends Laura Bridges and Jermel McWhorter say that he has a long road ahead with an uncertain future.

“Philbert will need dialysis treatments three times a week for the rest of his life, and with no possibility of insurance here in the U.S. through the H2B visa program, treatment is costly,” Bell said. “Funds raised here will give him time to plan for his future care and the financial support of his family. It is not the final answer, but he is responding well to the dialysis treatments, his energy has returned, and his strength will continue to improve. Supporting him now will give us all time to work on a solution for the future.”

Donations can be made through the GoFundMe page called Funds for Philbert, or directly to the account set up at Machias Savings Bank in Bar Harbor.

As of July 6, the page had raised $17,172 of its $35,000 goal with 70 donations. That included a $10,000 donation from Margaret and David Witham, who thanked Samuels for 19 years of dedication and friendship to the Witham family.

Zachary Lanning

Zachary Lanning

News reporter Zach Lanning covers news and features in the Ellsworth area. He comes to Ellsworth by way of New Jersey, which he hopes you don't hold against him. Email him at [email protected].

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