Unidos sums up its impact model at Caribbean Strong conference

Unidos por Puerto Rico (Unidos) distributed more than $38 million in grant funds to 193 nonprofit organizations as part of the disaster response to Hurricane María and 5.5 million pounds of donated goods as of December of 2018.  In total, the organization impacted approximately 1,500,000 people on Puerto Rico, nearly half of the population. Mariely

Planting coffee trees to reclaim the economic backbone of mountain towns

About 20 million coffee trees, some of them 20 years old, were destroyed by Hurricane María, wiping away the economic backbone of the mountain towns of Puerto Rico. The devastation affected 85 percent of the coffee trees in cultivation, a sector that was painstakingly reclaiming Puerto Rico’s glorious history when it produced the coffee of

Embracing Challenges with Youth and Housing

When several young women, who had recently “graduated” to living independently, asked the staff of Hogar Abrazo de Amor for help with coping techniques because they were struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the Executive Director, Waleska Rosario, and the Board of Directors realized that other youths could be experiencing the same kind of

Extreme conditions spur innovative community response

Barrio Mariana, a hilly low-income community in Humacao, was one of the last areas in Puerto Rico to recover power and water service, nine and a half months after Hurricane María struck the island. Yet, the community was able to mobilize volunteers as well as channel funds to create a community center with a solar

Joining forces to rebuild homes

Several homes that suffered severe damage in Hurricane María in a distressed sector of Guaynabo called Vietnam were in urgent need of repair. The leadership team of the College of Architects and Landscape Architects (CAAPPR, Spanish acronym) knew there was a pressing need to rebuild homes and they had the expertise to identify the repairs

A network of Ham radio volunteers rises from María’s silence

Scores of international students at the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayagüez Campus (UPRM) had no way of letting their families know that they were alive well after Hurricane María tore down most of the telecommunications infrastructure, creating a near total communications blackout in Puerto Rico. Then hope emerged. A licensed radio amateur (Ham radio) operator

Medical students provide access to basic healthcare

One of the things that has struck medical students working as volunteers in communities after Hurricane Maria is the importance of emotional wellbeing among the hundreds of patients tended to in community outreach clinics organized by the Universidad Central del Caribe. A third-year medical student who heads the volunteer group Medicina Urbana, Gabriel Colón, said

Restoring a natural jewel: Flamenco Beach

Flamenco’s white sands and turquoise water surrounded by hills and vegetation on the tiny island of Culebra have enticed hundreds of thousands of visitors over the years. Yet, two hurricanes in a row played havoc with the beach and its public facilities, severely damaging the island’s main attraction and revenue source. “For years Flamenco Beach

A manual to survive the effects of extreme weather for island homes

A group from Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise)  visited Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria to find ways to help the island recover and rebuild thriving communities. Puerto Rico was not the only jurisdiction hit by the destructive hurricane season of 2017, which also touched the Florida Keys and the U.S.  Virgin Islands. In response to the

Addressing unmet needs in Cataño

The Asociación Pro-Juventud y Comunidad de Barrio Palmas came to life in 1984 to address a serious concern on the part of community members, the increasing incidence of delinquency among its youth. Little did the leaders of this community nonprofit organization anticipate that 34 years later Hurricane María would lead them to repair homes damaged