To live up to its mission of promoting educational, economic and social development in southeastern Puerto Rico, the Programa de Educación Comunal de Entrega y Servicio (P.E.C.E.S.) had to stretch its capabilities and provide motors for fishermen in the area, undertake the rebuilding of homes, and repair the pier, a project that should be completed in 2019.
“One of the first things we did after the Hurricane was map the needs of our community.” José Oquendo, Executive Director of P.E.C.E.S. said there as an “urgent need” to repair homes or they would lose people who would give up after failing to secure aid from the Federal Emergency Management Association.
They submitted a comprehensive grant proposal to United for Puerto Rico for $1.9 million to repair 100 homes, repair the pier and provide fishermen with motors for their fishing boats. The pier was not only an important community asset for the local fishing industry but also for tourism and scientific research.
For United for Puerto Rico, the presence of P.E.C.E.S. in the area with its trajectory of effective social programs and its willingness to take on bigger projects for recovery and rebuilding, was an important indicator in the decision to approve the grant. “We knew there was the possibility of creating a multiplier effect in the region,” said Mariely Rivera, Executive Director of United for Puerto Rico.
José explained that P.E.C.E.S. took on the rebuilding of homes with the aim of making them more resilient in the face of future hurricanes. They began the planning process in the summer with the idea of completing the project in six months. Yet, the high demand for contract work delayed the actual hiring of local contractors. Incessant rain during October and part of November also caused setbacks.
More important than the actual projects that are underway is a change in the community’s perception of the future. During the many months that they were in the dark, many despaired. “We have been able to change that kind of thinking,” said José of all the community activity. He added that people feel they have endured the worst. “By working in solidarity, we have grown socially. Now, people feel this is a portal of hope.””
For more information, visit: https://www.pecesinc.org/