Catholic Charities in Puerto Rico
This year on “Election Day + 1, as our nation focused on the results of this brutal election, Catholic Charities brought our Feeding Our Neighbors program to help one of the most economically hard hit parts of our country, Puerto Rico. Catholic Charities staff and volunteers from the SOMOS annual conference in Puerto Rico provided thousands of meals to families served by The New York Foundling’s Cardinal O’Connor Head Start program in the area of Santurce among others.
Under the leadership of NYS Assemblyman Marco Crespo and Assemblywoman Maritza Davila, the annual SOMOS conference now includes a volunteer service project in a community in Puerto Rico. Catholic Charities has been proud to be a lead partner in these projects that demonstrate solidarity between the people of New York and Puerto Rico. Luz Tavarez, Catholic Charities’ Director of Government and Community Relations has effectively taken the lead in developing these partnerships and coordinating these projects.
This year’s project highlighted the approach of Catholic Charities agencies to always be attentive to the needs of the families we are serving. In 1973, about a century after its start, one of the oldest and highest quality Catholic Charities agencies, The New York Foundling extended its services to Puerto Rico to help a significant number of families in New York who were returning to the island. In the 1980’s and 90’s The New York Foundling established and expanded its Head Start programs so that today they are at 23 different sites in four different communities that serve almost 1,000 children and their families each year. This impactful work in Puerto Rico is done under the capable leadership of Carmen Villafane and her staff.
The creativity and quality seen at these programs is emblematic of the overall high quality and creative programs of The New York Foundling throughout the neighborhoods of the NY metropolitan area under the leadership of Bill Baccaglini. This work continues the compassionate and professional legacy of the Sisters of Charity in serving those in need.
This modest “Election Day + 1” volunteer service project is an important reminder that the overwhelming obsession with politics that has dominated the media needs to now make room for seeing and reaching out to our neighbors and better understanding their concerns and needs.