Following Puerto Rico’s Recovery: An Update on Recent Progress

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It’s been over a month since Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico, leaving crippling devastation in its path. Yet, despite the time that has passed, one in four Puerto Ricans still don’t have access to clean water, while three-quarters of the island remain without power. With many of our residents hailing from Puerto Rico, our hearts and minds have been split between the island and the Commonwealth, as we continue to worry about the health and well-being of our loved ones.

Given the storm’s impact on our community, IBA’s CEO Vanessa Calderón-Rosado has been an outspoken voice in the conversation around the need to provide relief to those in need of basic, life-saving aid, collaborating with Governor Baker, Mayor Walsh, Representative Jeffrey Sánchez and The Boston Foundation to establish the Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico Fund. As one of Boston’s preeminent Puerto Rican leaders, Vanessa was selected to serve as co-chairwoman of the Advisory Committee.

Despite widespread feelings of desperation and waning hope, the Greater Boston community has demonstrated incredible strength, resiliency and generosity in the face of pain and frustration; comprised of more than 1,500 donations, the Fund has raised over $2 million to assist with on-the-ground relief efforts and recently finalized the first round of grants.

With nine grants totaling $100,000 recently allocated, here’s a breakdown of some of the organizations receiving financing in support of their work:

  • Dedicated to sustainable community self-management and modernization, Casa Pueblo de Adjuntas has received $15,000 to purchase and install solar-powered lights in centralized rural communities with damaged or under-developed infrastructure.
  • P.E.C.E.S., an education and community development nonprofit based in Punta Santiago, Humacao, has received funding to provide relief services and implement longer-term community development initiatives on the east coast of Puerto Rico, which was devastated when Hurricane Maria made landfall.
  • Based in Framingham, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has been granted $5,000 to help the American Red Cross serve and accommodate Puerto Rican families seeking relocation.

While the Fund continues to identify grassroots organizations implementing critical, life-saving and restorative programs through additional rounds of grants, IBA has been providing localized support to families displaced by the storm. In partnership with Boston Public Schools (BPS) and other Latino community organizations, IBA is serving as a resource for BPS “pop-up centers,” which are designed to help families enroll their children in local schools, secure housing and access basic resources, such as food and clothing.

As we experience the life-altering impact of the Puerto Rican diaspora, we will continue to seek thoughtful means of fostering the physical, emotional and mental health of our community members located here and on the Island.

IBA is committed to ensuring the well-being of its residents and families in Puerto Rico. Please donate to the Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico here:

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