Update on Relief and Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico

I would like to provide an update on the relief and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, which is so dear to the hearts of many New Yorkers. 

One of our reasons for concern is the damage and hurt suffered by the families of the Head Start programs run by the New York Foundling at 41 sites throughout the island of Puerto Rico.  I know of the dedicated work being done by the leadership of the New York Foundling in NY, especially William Baccaglini, Jr. and Carmen Jirau-Rivera, to support these families. These efforts will continue for many years.

I was able to join Cardinal Dolan a few weeks ago to visit and show solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico.  This very brief trip, captured in the recent issue of Catholic New York, included a stop at the offices of Caritas Puerto Rico to learn of the work they are doing to provide relief throughout the country.  We were told that Caritas Puerto Rico was singled out by FEMA for their efforts because they are the only aid organization reaching out to all 75 of Puerto Rico’s municipalities.  Fr. Enrique Camacho, the Executive Director of Caritas Puerto Rico and his staff are proving extraordinary service.

This Sunday, November 19th, the Mass of Our Lady of the Divine Providence, Patroness of Puerto Rico, will be celebrated at 4:00 p.m. at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

A special commemoration will be offered for the people of Puerto Rico who are currently suffering the effects of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.  Fr. Enrique Camacho will serve as the celebrant and homilist of the Mass.

The numbers of persons displaced from Puerto Rico are hard to estimate.  We do know that in the past month, more than 1,100 families displaced have sought services at the New York City Reception Center that Catholic Charities has been staffing, along with City agencies. 

Catholic Charities has provided gifts cards, food, metro cards, and counseling on the services available to those relocating to New York City.  A very high priority is ensuring adequate housing for those unable to stay with family or friends.

Through the generosity of numerous donors, Catholic Charities has already been able to provide funds to both Caritas Puerto Rico and the New York Foundling for their relief efforts.  We anticipate providing additional funds shortly. 

We have also partnered with the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and Comité Noviembre to serve as a conduit for their Estoy Con Puerto Rico campaign.  I intend to accompany this group, along with few other Catholic Charities staff, in early December to visit the distant towns of Puerto Rico and make sure aid is reaching those hard to reach areas.

I ask that you keep the wonderful people of Puerto Rico in your prayers,

 

Hurricane Relief in Puerto Rico

Edwin Melendez, Ph.D. & Assemblyman Marcos Crespo

On this week’s episode of JustLove, Monsignor Sullivan speak with two guests focused on hurricane disaster relief in Puerto Rico. 

On the show Assemblyman Marcos Crespo who represents the fifth district in the Bronx and East Harlem is on the show. He shares his experiences with Msgr. Kevin Sullivan on joining Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the first relief flight to Puerto Rico two days after Hurricane Maria hit the island

Also appearing on the show is Edwin Melendez, Ph.D., Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning  and Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. Msgr. Sullivan and Prof. Melendez will be discussing the impact that Hurricane Maria has had Puerto Rico as well as the island’s economic struggles 

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Catholic Charities in PR “Election Day + 2”

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La Perla, Puerto Rico

Catholic Charities is well known for extensive high quality services that touch almost every human need. Another part of mission is probably less known: partnering to build a just and compassionate society through economic and community development.

Today we focused on this lesser known part of our mission. We partnered to raise our awareness and show solidarity to one of the most troubled barrios of San Juan, La Perla. Its reputation for drugs, poverty, violence and lack of opportunity is infamous. A Franciscan priest, decades ago, began to organize to address these issues. Catholic Charities took the lead in organizing a moving walking tour of this historic barrio with approximately 50 SOMOS participants led by a current community organizer Angel Marcano and a volunteer, former NYC Housing Commissioner Bill Alicea.

This neighborhood has such strong emotional reverberations for many Puerto Ricans. It was the birthplace and home of NYS Assemblyman Jose Rivera who joined us on the tour. He pointed out his home and school. He showed us the part of the beach he swam in after school.

This is just a glimpse of our visit. I will probably write more in the future.

Currently, many positive changes can be seen in this barrio with a checkered history and bad reputation, natives and tourists alike were discouraged from visiting. We were told that within the past 3 years much of the drug trafficking has been cleaned up and a renewed sense of the community is emerging. But this positive story comes with threats.

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