Your donation is making an impact in a time of crisis
By Chase Williams | Program Officer
Photo from La Fondita de Jesus
In the face of so many overwhelming challenges—from COVID-19 to recent earthquakes—communities across Puerto Rico continue to show extraordinary courage and determination. Now, on top of these challenges, the impacts of Hurricane Isaias as it passed Puerto Rico in recent days serve as a stark reminder of the precarious position of the island as we continue into this year’s hurricane season. Each additional disaster event further complicates the already daunting journey to recovery that communities continue to face long after Hurricane Maria struck nearly three years ago.
Thanks to your support of our Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund, GlobalGiving has recently activated additional emergency donations in support of our trusted nonprofit partners on the frontlines. Now more than ever, our partners are providing critical services to community members most in need, combating misinformation, and standing in solidarity with those who have lost their homes, livelihoods, and/or family members during this devastating time.
Here is a brief snapshot of how your generosity is making a difference right now in communities across Puerto Rico during this time of crisis:
Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico is ensuring that every individual impacted by disaster has access to justice, the right to housing, and the fair recovery of their communities. While the organization continues to provide pro-bono legal services to communities impacted by Hurricane Maria and the recent earthquakes, it is also ensuring that all communities on the island have a reliable source of information they can access about key topics like COVID-19 and employment, elder rights, domestic violence, displacement, and housing. To do this, the organization is constantly managing and updating its knowledge platform that has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people in recent weeks.
La Fondita de Jesús remains committed to serving individuals experiencing homelessness in the greater San Juan area. As the COVID-19 crisis rages on, community members experiencing homelessness (many as a result of Hurricane Maria’s long-term impacts) are especially at risk of infection by the virus because they lack reliable, safe shelter. Each day, the organization is preparing and delivering hundreds of hot meals, especially in support of elderly constituents. The organization is also providing remote assistance to its community members in its permanent housing programs through on-staff social workers, substance abuse counselors, and psychologists.
Proyecto La Nueva Esperanza continues its dedicated mission to supporting low-income, isolated elders in rural communities in northwest Puerto Rico. The organization is actively providing holistic support to 50 elders in the form of grocery delivery, safe cleaning supplies, accurate information, and best practices to remain safe from the virus.
The COVID-19 crisis is not only upending our own lives and the lives of our loved ones, but it is also disproportionately hurting the most vulnerable among us and in communities around the world. This reality is especially true for communities that have already been severely affected by recent disasters, like Hurricane Maria, and now find themselves on an even more complex and daunting journey to recovery.
We stand in solidarity with all of our nonprofit partners in Puerto Rico that are now grappling with the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on top of the traumas of Hurricane Maria and the recent earthquakes that struck the island in January. Before the massive spread of the coronavirus, myself and other members of GlobalGiving’s Disaster Recovery Network team were fortunate to visit many of our partners on the island in February. I want to take a moment to briefly share some of the incredible work that you and more than 50,000 others have supported through your donation to the Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund.
La Maraña is a grassroots, women-led organization that formed in response to the destruction brought by Hurricane Maria. Through its participatory design methods, it promotes the inclusion and empowerment of local Puerto Rican voices in the design and recovery process. For the last two and a half years, the organization has been deeply connected with three communities in Humacao, Carolina, and Comerío. Putting community members’ voices in the lead, La Maraña collaboratively designs community-driven master plans and implements a commonly elected social impact project in each respective community. Our team was able to see firsthand the important work completed by the San Antón and Saint Just community in Carolina to transform an abandoned school into a community hub that offers alternative schooling, small-business development, and sustainable agriculture. You can learn more about the organization’s keen focus on incorporating community feedback through this recent video profile.
La Fondita de Jesús has served vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness across the greater San Juan area since the 1980s. With GlobalGiving support, the organization was able to fully install solar power systems on the majority of its buildings in San Juan. Each of these buildings serves a core need for the organization’s constituents, from long-term housing to basic services like reliable meals and showers. Our team had the opportunity to see each of these power systems in place and being put to immediate use. This is a key step for La Fondita de Jesús towards resiliency, especially when you consider the nearly year-long power outage across Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Taller Salud is a community-based feminist organization dedicated to improving women’s access to health care, reducing violence within the community, and encouraging economic growth through education and activism. For the last 40 years, the organization has been directly serving communities in Loíza. Since Hurricane Maria, Taller Salud has been successfully advancing a Just Recovery Campaign related to affordable housing and gender and racial justice—issues that are at the core of an equitable recovery on the island. We had the opportunity to sit down with the organization’s leadership for an open discussion about the trajectory of Puerto Rico’s recovery process and to identify future opportunities for partnership.
We will be back in your inbox in the coming months with more stories of hope and recovery in the midst of so many challenges. From our nonprofit partners and everyone at GlobalGiving, thank youfor your incredible generosity. Your choice to support community-led recovery efforts in the Caribbean makes all the difference during this difficult time.
Please stay safe and well—and let’s all look out for each other and our communities.
Civil Society in the Lead for Puerto Rico's Recovery
By Andrea Osorio | Disaster Recovery Network Fellow
Rebuilding a new Boys & Girls Club in San Lorenzo
Recently, two GlobalGiving team members visited our nonprofit partners in Puerto Rico to better understand how communities are recovering after Hurricane Maria. They met with community leaders to listen to stories of progress and heartache, and to jointly design new ways to support locally-led recovery and resilience efforts in 2020.
On Jan. 7, 2020, a 6.4 earthquake followed by hundreds of tremors caused significant damage to the island’s southwest region. With hearts heavy with worry for those we had just visited, GlobalGiving immediately contacted our partners to assess the latest relief needs. To support the earthquake relief efforts of the communities still grappling with the effects of Hurricane Maria, visit our Puerto Rico Earthquake Relief Page.
Here are three takeaways from our team’s recent visit to Puerto Rico:
Hurricanes amplify structural issues in Puerto Rico. The destruction of Hurricane Maria exacerbated long-standing issues facing Puerto Rico, such as its debt crisis, out-migration, and aging energy infrastructure. People living in already precarious conditions were left even more vulnerable by the devastation the hurricane inflicted on the island. Local nonprofit partner G-8 has used recovery funds from GlobalGiving to support housing recovery and relocation in Caño Martín Peña communities, as well as to support a number of repair programs and advocacy campaigns focused on resilience to future disasters.
Civil society is the backbone of recovery. The 2017 disaster caused more than $100 billion in damages, while federal aid distributed thus far to the island (approximately $14 billion of $41 billion currently allocated) has been well below what is needed for society to fully rebuild. Just this month the federal government announced it will finally begin the process to release housing funds for rebuilding. To fill this gap, local and international nonprofit organizations have been spearheading the recovery process. Local nonprofits, such as Taller Salud, engage in case management and advocacy efforts to ensure that all community members have a voice in an equitable recovery.
The generosity of GlobalGiving donors continues to sustain long-term recovery. GlobalGiving made nearly $2 million in grants in 2019 alone to our trusted nonprofit partners based in Puerto Rico, with the support of individuals like you, to bolster the economic, social, and environmental recovery of communities across Puerto Rico. One recent grant is supporting the Puerto Rico Community Foundation to organize rural community leaders into a network focused on ensuring the sustainable use of 52 community aqueducts across the island. Over the long term, this work will contribute to safe and reliable access to drinking water in many communities that were heavily impacted by the hurricane. We will be sharing the progress of this grant and other initiatives in the coming months.
Members of our team will be returning to Puerto Rico in February, where we will be connecting with more of our trusted partners that continue to be at the forefront of Hurricane Maria recovery. From all of us at GlobalGiving, thank you for your inspiring generosity and support.
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When a disaster strikes, recovery efforts led by people who live and work in affected communities are often overlooked and underfunded. GlobalGiving is changing this reality. Since 2004, we've been shifting decision-making power to crises-affected communities through trust-based grantmaking and support.
We make it easy, quick, and safe to support people on the ground who understand needs in their communities better than anyone else.
They were there long before the news cameras arrived, and they’ll be there long after the cameras leave. They know how to make their communities more resilient to future disasters, and they’re already hard at work. GlobalGiving puts donations and grants directly into their hands. Because the status quo—which gives the vast majority of funding to a few large organizations—doesn’t make sense.