8 Puerto Rico-Based Nonprofits Worth Donating To

Forty days after Hurricane María, many Puerto Ricans on the island and from the diaspora have grown skeptical of the island’s recently-pinned motto “Puerto Rico se levanta” (Puerto Rico rises).

As news media outlets report lags in donation distributions from FEMA and other organizations to vulnerable communities due to "logistical failures, to extremely delayed and damaged donations being received via the USPS, to the now cancelled alarming new electricity repair deal between the AEE and Whitefish Energy Holdings, Puerto Ricans have garnered more than enough skepticism and anger toward the mishandling of the island’s humanitarian crisis.

To this day, 70 percent of Puerto Ricans still lack basic utilities like electricity, and others must resort to drinking water from creeks and rivers because FEMA has not supplied potable drinking water to their area yet. Others are wondering how they will send their children to school.

While political social media campaigns are relentlessly firing the optimistic #PuertoRicoSeLevanta, it erases the plights of Puerto Ricans who are still navigating the island's post-apocalyptic landscape for basic utilities. Puerto Rican activists and volunteers working island-wide to meet their communities' needs echo a more realistic message like this: 'Puerto Rico se levantará, pero sigue necesitando tu ayuda' ("Puerto Rico will rise, but it still needs your help"). 

Thanks to donations toward trustworthy and transparent local nonprofit charities, Puerto Rican organizers have collaborated to secure relief efforts in solidarity with vulnerable communities who still need help and were not receiving it (quickly enough) previously. 

To help Hurricane María victims in Puerto Rico, ​consider donating to these nonprofits to facilitate their efforts: 

1) Brigada Solidaria del Oeste

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(Photo Credit: Brigada Solidaria del Oeste)

La Brigada Solidaria del Oeste, or the Solidary Brigade of the West, is a multi-organization community initiative that has been supplying essential resources to communities that have been "gravely affected by the passing of Hurricane María" on the west coast of the island. Every day, to ensure transparency and expand their reach, the Brigade updates their Facebook page by posting photos and messages of the areas they donated food and water to, as well as the areas they cleaned up. Several areas the Brigade have visited include: the Santa Rosa de Lima area at Añasco; Guamá, sector islita community at San Germán, the Buena Vista neighborhood at Las Marías; and the community of El Maní at Mayagüez, among others.

Volunteers and leaders convened at Betances 100 Sur Bar (Photo Credit: Brigada Solidaria del Oeste)

In addition, on a weekly basis, they meet at the Betances 100 Sur Bar and Café at Mayagüez to strategize their next visits, as well as organize their supplies they receive in the trucks and cars. They’re funded and sustained by the support they have received from individuals within the island and the diaspora.

If you’re interested in contributing to these committed collective’s efforts by donating, you can do so via Paypal account: [email protected]. It is important that, when you donate, you specify the donation is for the Brigada Solidaria del Oeste/Solidary Brigade of the West.

To send provisions directly, these can be mailed to: Eury Orsini, 101A, Bo. Buena Vista, Mayagüez PR 00680.

2) Instituto Universitario para el Desarrollo de las Comunidades

The Instituto Universitario para el Desarrollo de las Comunidades (University Institute for Community Development), is a UPRM-based organization led by Prof. Luisa Seijo whose efforts are rooted in increasing involvement between UPRM students and faculty in community-building efforts in the Mayaguez area as well as in an intra-university level.

Volunteers of the Institute (Source: Instituto Universitario para el Desarrollo de las Comunidades Facebook page)

After Hurricane María, according to their Facebook page, they have collaborated with communities such as Añasco Playa, El Seco, La Salud, Hacienda La Igualdad at Mayagüez y Villa Esperanza at Toa Alta.  Donations have enabled them to distribute clothing, food, and other necessary supplies, to these sectors of the island, though, like the Brigade, they have also cleared areas and roads of debris to facilitate locals’ mobility.

To donate to this organization: Deliver your donations to their administrative offices at Residence 5-B at UPRM OR call (787)-659-3819 to contact Marianne Mercado Soler, their sole administrative assistant.

3) La Olla Común

 

 

La Olla Común, or The Common Pot, is a Río Piedras-based agricultural initiative borne in response to Hurricane Maria. According to The Indypendent, every day, around 30 volunteers “coordinate the distribution”, in addition to cook and prepare up to 170 daily breakfast meals to locals. The organization, rather than think of itself as a cafeteria, centers its role as “a space where we come to help each other in light of a situation where the government collapsed after Hurricane Maria,” according to what CAM organizer Scott Barbés Caminero commented in an interview with The Indypendent.

English translation: "The Common Pot: Contribute with $, Food or Work" (Photo Credit: La Olla Común)

La Olla Común’s philosophy, besides providing food to anyone in need, is to recruit and involve as many Puerto Ricans as possible in the island’s recovery efforts, is to “encourage communities to unite and become self-sustaining.”

La Olla Común is requesting food donations, specifically items like Azúcar boxed milk, oatmeal, coffee, tuna, canned meat, fresh or canned fruit, cornmeal, potatoes, paper towels, fresh or canned vegetables, fresh garlic, chickpea, beans, lentils, juices, cereals, cleaning supplies, antibacterial soap, non-disposable cups, plates, eating utensils, and gloves.

4) Taller Salud

Taller Salud, a feminist nonprofit organization based in the northeastern small town of Loíza, has served an integral role in the development of women, girls, and children for over 37 years. Its long-standing target has been to work toward the health and development of impoverished communities. While the nonprofit has its roots in Loíza, it has also historically helped other communities with scarce economic resources from towns like Río Grande, Luquillo, Fajardo and Vieques, according to Tatiana Pérez Rivera’s report at the Angel Ramos Foundation's website.

 

People serving food at Loíza (Photo Credit: Taller Salud)

Loíza had been in a fragile condition as it staggered toward recovery since Hurricane Irma; while the majority of the island was spared of the brunt of the Irma, Loíza was among the worst impacted towns (with over 79 homes lost to Irma to over 3,000 homes after María).

Through donations, Taller Salud has supplied materials, gas and water to sustain community kitchens in various sectors of Loíza, delivered food to elderly people living alone, and provided citizens with access to psychologists. Director Tania Rosario added that members of Taller Salud have also informed the communities they are attending about how to prevent disease outbreaks, how to ration their food and water, and how to maintain healthy personal hygiene.

To support Taller Salud, donate to any of these efforts:

Taller Salud Fund Paypal: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr…

Make a direct deposit to Taller Salud's bank account: Oriental Bank #3024752818

Hurricane María Community Recovery Fund: https://connect.clickandpledge.com/…/cb4a3c78-5694-4324-bea…

Loíza Hurricane Relief Fundraiser: https://www.youcaring.com/loizahurricanerelief-955117

5) Fundación El Plato Caliente

"-¿Qué significa un plato caliente para ti?" / "What does a hot meal mean for you?"

"-Esto es una muestra de amor. Esto es lo que se llama pueblo. " / This is a sign of love. This is what you call a town/community."

The Fundación El Plato Caliente (Hot Meal Foundation) is no stranger to collaboration. Its goal: to feed homeless people around the island. On an typical day, they feed 2,000 people, without government or federal aid, just with the help of strangers' food and cash donations. One day, they are stationed at the Castañer neighborhood in Lares; the next, they are found serving hot meals to a deaf-mute community at Miraflores, Orocovis. In recent history, they have collaborated with the Stefano Steenbakkers Betancourt Foundation to deliver 200 #platoscalientes to students at the UPR-Carolina campus. The Foundation also calls for volunteers to convene to prepare meals at restaurants like Flor De Parcha (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 7.a.m.), El PsychoDeli and Di Parma Trattoria (every weekday at 7 a.m.), and Grillón (Monday through Fridays at 9 a.m.).

To increase the number of meals they distribute on a daily basis, El Plato Caliente relies on cash donations. If you would like to contribute to their efforts, please consider donating to them through any of these methods: 

The Foundation is also always in dire need of volunteers to facilitate their efforts; if you are interested in volunteering, be sure to check their Facebook updates to see where they might need you, and message them at (939)-227-6389. Don't hesitate to reach out and help! They are located at Calle Cerra at Santurce, Puerto Rico.

You can also donate to their Banco Popular bank account number: 024-379654 

6) Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo Mariana

The Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo Mariana, is a branch of the Caguas-based Centro de Apoyo Mutuo (CAM), or Center for Mutual Support, but for the communities set in the Mariana village at Humacao. This community was among the first to be directly struck by the Hurricane María. According to Buzzfeed contributor Molly Crabapple's report, Christine Nieves and her boyfriend, activist Luis Rodríguez Sánchez, applied CAM's successful model for the community at Mariana. This community-led organization is just one of the many that seek to be "a space that would kindle their [people's] senses of self-sufficiency, community, and pride" rather than just be an ordinary soup kitchen. 

(Photo Credit: Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo Mariana)

Local nonprofit organizations like these are working for and with their communities to ensure that every Puerto Rican is fed and taken care of, without or without FEMA or the local government. 

To donate:

Send money to [email protected] via Paypal.

7) Come Colegial

Come Colegial is an UPRM student association and nonprofit composed of volunteering students that dedicate themselves to providing food to UPRM students who are facing financial hardships and cannot afford to pay for meals. After the UPRM Student Council posted a post-Hurricane María survey, it has been registered that 756 students are lacking in food items in the aftermath of Hurricane María. To help, Come Colegial is currently receiving donations for non-perishable food products like rice, cereals, canned grains/meats/vegetables/fruits, cooking sauce, dry pastas, canned soups, cookies, snacks, Italian sauces, condimients, vegetable or olive oil, mashed potatoes, boxed milk, water, tuna, sardines, among others. It is imperative that these foods do not require refrigeration so they can be shelved.

Donations should be delivered to Celis 110.

8. Fundación Arecibo Se Levanta, Inc.

The Fundación Arecibo Se Levanta, Inc., or the Arecibo Rises Foundation Inc., is a nonprofit initiative founded by an aricebeña from the diaspora, Nicky Rosario Texidor, and her friend, Rubén E. Colón Román, who currently resides in a Post-María Arecibo. According to their Facebook page, Rosario communicates frequently with Colón to develop strategies in order to deliver food to the most vulnerable groups of people in remote areas, such as elderly people, people with health problems, families with children, and whomever cannot, for whatever reason, arrive to pick up foods.

(Photo credit: Fundación Arecibo Se Levanta)

To deposit a cash donation to this organization, pay via their Gofundme page: https://www.gofundme.com/fundacionareciboselevanta or their Paypal account [email protected].

To assist them with essential items: They are seeking non-perishable food items like rice, canned beans, tuna, chicken, ​​tomato sauce, corn, sausages, Chef Boyardee canned meals, Campbell's soups, coffee, sugar, juices, evaporated and powdered milk, cereals, baby food, cookies, canned fruits, protein bars (i.e. Nutrigrain), peanut butter, oil, marmalade, canned vegetables, pasta (like spaghetti, etc.), condiments, water, and oatmeal.

 Personal Hygiene products (they are also accepting): mosquito repellent, paper towels, toothpaste, disposable dishes, toothbrushes, disposable cups, deodornt, napkins, soap, garbage cans (of all sizes), sanitary towels, cutlery, sanitary wipes, hand sanitizer, baby diapers, adult diapers.

For first aid kits:  First-aid bandages, sterile band-aids, antisepctics, anti-diarrhea tablets (Immodium), alcohol wipes, Triple-Antibiotic creams, Tylenol for Children, Tylenol for Adults, Desitin for Adults and Children, Balmex or A&D Benadryl, Costisone pills for water purification.

NOTE: The Foundation asks to please identify donated items with the donated word and to cover the bar code or UPC with a permanent marker.

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Puerto Ricans, who, for too long have been stereotyped as lazy for being Puerto Rican, continue to disprove the stereotype by taking charge of the island's narrative and rebuilding from the bottom.

To read more about these nonprofits:

http://puertoricotequiero.com/brigadas-de-solidaridad-comunitaria/

https://indypendent.org/2017/10/a-peoples-recovery-radical-organizing-in-post-maria-puerto-rico/

http://dialogoupr.com/aunque-el-pais-va-lento-las-comunidades-se-estan-levantando/