Powering recovery through social change in Puerto Rico
By Chase Williams - Program Officer
Photo courtesy of Y No Habia Luz
It’s hard to believe that three years have already passed since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean. In Puerto Rico, the trauma and damage inflicted by the storm remain present to this day.
We must remember that Hurricane Maria was the deadliest disaster in the United States in 100 years. It tragically left at least 3,000 people dead and the entire island without full power for nearly an entire year. The storm’s impacts not only built upon years of economic and political marginalization of the Puerto Rican people, but it also weakened local communities’ ability to respond to other massive crises thrown their way this year—like the earthquakes that struck the island earlier this year and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In the immediate aftermath of the storm and the years that followed, you chose to join with more than 50,000 others to support GlobalGiving’s Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund. As a result of your donation, our trusted nonprofit partners based in Puerto Rico have been able to rely on GlobalGiving’s long-term support to further their critical work. Here is a snapshot of how your donation continues to help communities across Puerto Rico on their journey to recovery:
Y No Había Luz centers its work on the power of artistic experiences to drive social change in Puerto Rico. It recently launched its Centinelas del Corazón program to serve multiple communities across the island that were hit the hardest by Hurricane Maria. The program aims to strengthen social ties in impacted communities through art and theater, including puppetry and immersive storytelling. Through workshops (virtual until further notice) and community dialogues, the Centinelas del Corazón program will provide a space for communities to identify common issues and to design solutions in a participatory way alongside their neighbors.
Programa de Educación Comunal de Entrega y Servicio (P.E.C.E.S.) has been serving vulnerable communities across Puerto Rico since 1985 through its programs promoting education, at-risk youth intervention, and community development. The organization’s Community Sustainability Center, based in Punta Santiago very close to where Hurricane Maria first made landfall, has quickly adapted all of its programmings amid the pandemic and is now providing non-stop supportive services virtually, including counseling and other social work services. P.E.C.E.S. is also providing holistic support, such as hot meal distribution, to the elderly who were disproportionately impacted by the storm and are now at greatest risk to COVID-19.
Intercambios Puerto Rico is a community-based organization that promotes the social integration of marginalized groups, including people with substance abuse disorders, people experiencing homelessness, and sex workers. These groups, who are already struggling from the disproportionate impacts of Hurricane Maria, now find themselves in an even more precarious position due to the realities of the pandemic. The organization has been running its mobile services to provide on-the-spot counseling, COVID-19 safety items like masks and hand sanitizer, and information about how to protect yourself from the virus.
Thank you for your generosity and support of community-led disaster recovery. Please expect another update from GlobalGiving early next year about how your donation makes a difference in the lives of so many.
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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.