Uniting Under the Massachusetts Fund for Puerto Rico
In the aftermath of Hurricane María, many of our community members have been struggling to contact loved ones as the entire island of Puerto Rico remains without power. Much of Boston has responded with an outpour of concern, reaching out with offers and ideas to organize relief efforts. We decided to host an open forum, giving individuals, both in physical and virtual attendance, the chance to discuss how we can best support the island that is so close to many of our hearts. With La Galería filled to capacity, IBA CEO Vanessa Calderón-Rosado opened the meeting by emphasizing our main goals. We are channeling efforts to support Puerto Rico by fundraising, identifying community-based organizations, strategizing the proper distribution of funds and goods, and engaging in political action. “We need food, we need water, we need diapers, but more than anything, we need money,” Calderón-Rosado said. Representative Jeffrey Sánchez also urged people to donate money instead of goods. He explained that there are only 10 flights going in and out of Puerto Rico per day, and receiving resources in bulk creates issues such as finding, storing, and keeping goods dry. “The push is to raise money and get it back into the economy,” he said. “They need money to get the government back and running in full swing.” As a result, we joined efforts with The Boston Foundation and the Latino Legacy Fund to raise at least 1 million dollars. Our CEO, Calderón-Rosado, will serve as a chair on the advisory committee. Up to one-third of the of the funds raised will be donated to relief efforts immediately. The remainder of the funds will aid reconstruction and economic recovery projects on the island through the organization we've chosen and relocation efforts throughout Boston. Over 6,000 dollars were raised in the meeting room alone that night amidst cries of “¡Sí se puede!” And as of October 1st, nearly $700,000 have been raised. Help us reach our goal by donating here. The first five organizations selected for donations were decided based on their reputed engagement within the Puerto Rican community, their ability to offer direct services to residents, consistent contact with our managing teams, and their ability to distribute aid throughout the entire island. Many people online expressed concern that these organizations would not be able to support such a large area in need of aid. We are confident in their ability to manage distress throughout the country as a whole and we will be adding more organizations to our list of recommendations as soon as possible. The current organizations are as follows:
- PROYECTO ENLACE: This organization supports 27,000 residents across eight communities within the Caño Martin Peña Region to overcome poverty and advocates for social justice
- PROYECTO PECES: Supporting 5,500 residents in Punta Santiago, this organization facilitates social, educational and economic development across southern towns.
- CASA PUEBLO: Located in Adjuntas, this organization serves 19,500 residents and works to protect natural, cultural, and human resources on the island.
- TALLER SALUD: This organization supports over 8,000 women and children ensuring access to essential healthcare and resources in the Medianía Alta area.
- PROYECTO MATRIA: Located in Cayey, this organization seeks to end violence and discrimination against Puerto Rican women, offering integral education and health services to over 45,500 residents.