Our Work in Puerto Rico is Far from Over
At Volunteers of America, we’re at our best when times are at their worst. In addition to our usual work helping America’s most vulnerable, we took on the critical mission in recent months of helping Puerto Rico recover and rebuild following two devastating hurricanes. Our work is far from over, as we transition in the New Year from the relief effort to long-term recovery.
After hurricanes Irma and Maria decimated Puerto Rico – leaving thousands without power, food, water and other basic needs – Volunteers of America established Project Esperanza (Spanish for “Hope”) to help relieve seniors, children and families of their desperation. Our core mission was to assess the needs of vulnerable seniors who live in low-income housing and assist them by delivering emergency supplies, performing basic medical/wellness assessments, and providing emotional support in coordination with the Secretary of Housing of Puerto Rico. Project Esperanza volunteers visited seniors both in metro San Juan and in outlying areas of the island that have received few services since the storms. We assessed the needs and attended to more than 3,000 senior households, providing this valuable information to the government for additional follow-up.
Many of the people we served were isolated and living on limited resources to begin with, and following the storm lacked access to necessary health care, medications and dependable electricity needed to power things like insulin pumps. Some were only receiving one meal a day. Because of our donors’ generosity, our initial volunteers arrived to a container ship filled with items desperately needed by island residents. In all, we delivered more than 50,000 pounds of supplies to the island.
Despite Project Esperanza’s best efforts, there is still so much work to be done before the people of Puerto Rico are back on their feet. Volunteers of America will continue to aid the victims of hurricanes Irma and Maria in the coming months and years, and we are so grateful for the ongoing support of our donors, staff and volunteers. It is because of our own strong community that we can continue to help those who need us most.
To learn more and support our work helping the people of Puerto Rico recover and rebuild, please visit www.voa.org/RebuildingPuertoRico.