Today, I’ve been thinking about Puerto Rico. It’s the anniversary of Hurricane Maria that caused more than 3,000 deaths leaving people without electricity for months. The island is still working to rebuild after damage that is estimated at $90 billion, but Puerto Ricans are resilient people determined to stand strong.
After the hurricane, in September 2017, Chef José Andrés and groups he founded, World Central Kitchen and Chefs for Puerto Rico rolled up their sleeves.
Initially they started serving at hospitals in San Juan because doctors and nurses doing life saving work were not getting fed. Then calls started coming in from places located hours away and it was clear the island was hungry. The Chef and his group, took action and took over kitchens in schools, restaurants and even at a basketball stadium. At one point there were 19 kitchens going strong serving over 150,000 meals a day. After suffering such devastation these acts of kindness and comfort offered hope. Making sure the people of Puerto Rico did not go hungry, to date he and his team served more than 3.6 million meals.
The chef and World Kitchen team arrived again, days before the storm in the Carolinas with volunteers serving over 150,000 meals.
I had the great opportunity to meet Chef Andrés and visit his home in 2008 as he worked to raise funds for DC Central Kitchen. He’s the real deal and I’m a big fan of this doer, his food, cookbooks, PBS show and remarkable spirit. With this portrait, I want to say thanks Chef and all your volunteers, for being there to make a difference when it is needed most.
It’s officially National Hispanic Heritage Month.
It seemed the right time to also pay tribute to a Puerto Rican who make a huge difference for children and libraries, Pura Belpré. She understood that all children have a right to see themselves in the pages of books, to hear inspiring and challenging stories they connect to. This amazing librarian, activist and storyteller traveled all around New York, zig-zagging from the Bronx to the Lower East Side. Wherever she went she brought along puppets to tell stories to children in Spanish and English and her legacy goes on.
Friends over at Latinxs in Kid Lit have organized an auction to benefit youth impacted by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. They are buying books and supplies for three youth groups on the island. These include the Environmental Educational Program & Creative Art Therapy program, Camp Tabonuco in Jayuya, Puerto Rico, La Torre Community Library/Cener in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico and the program, La Maleta Cuentera. Spreading the word as it’s a chance to bid on lots of great signed books and art from authors and illustrators to help the youth of Puerto Rico.
Many people don’t know that most of the hotels and tourist spots are now up and running even while the island continues to rebuild. One year later, one of the big things we can all do to help is to visit and vacation there as the tourism industry on the island employs 63,500 people.There are many ways to help with the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and some of the organizations that could use our support are the Red Cross, All Hands and Hearts, Direct Relief and Hope Builders.