CeDIL Learning Center - Puerto Rico

My name is Kathy Maestas and I am one of the founders of the CeDIL Learning Center in Puerto Rico. I currently live in Denver, Colorado but still help the school as I can remotely.  I keep in constant contact with Noris and Mayra who currently run the school.  The money raised will be used for repairs to the school specifically a new front door that was blown off and broken during Hurricane Maria. Also to replace some furniture, equipment and supplies that were damaged by the water that got into the school, as well as any outdoor repairs from the wind damage in the backyard play area.
The money will go directly to the school when they are ready and prepared to start working on the repairs. It will be automatically transferred to their account. Thank you for the support.

My story.....

In 2007, we were living in Puerto Rico and didn't have many school options for our son Sage who was diagnosed with Autism in 2005. We had been working with two amazing therapists, a speech language (Mayra) and occupational therapist (Noris) since 2003. They had a small 3 room office within a larger complex. One day I was expressing my frustration to them, we started talking, we started brainstorming and we started dreaming about "what if" we could.... They shared they always wanted to have a larger place to do more, a center of some sorts. We said "what if " we could have a "learning center" and combine a school concept and therapy program for kids with special needs into one place. And it would be bilingual for people like Sage which was one of my biggest challenge on the island.

We started filing the local paperwork and were granted our "corporacíon sin fines de lucro" on March 9, 2007 and I completed the IRS 501c3 paperwork shortly thereafter. They quickly found a house that could fit our needs. It had two long rooms on the ends. One side would be a classroom and the other side would be the "gym" for occupational and physical therapy. It had a kitchen space so we could do fun cooking activities with the kids. The living room area became the lobby and waiting room area. The bedrooms were transformed into a Admin Office, an office for speech therapy and another small classroom space. We pulled everything together in 5 months and school started that August with two official students, Sage and Carlitos.

We didn't have any large donors or sponsors. We recruited friends with food to help paint inside and out, clean up the yard, assemble a playground set, organize materials, etc.. They brought a lot of their own equipment, we all cleaned out our own toys and books to give to the school, we cleaned out our cupboards to stock the kitchen, we got some old tables and chairs donated, a friend who had homeschooled her children for years donated some school supplies educational tools. Our family went to Costco to buy the playground set for the yard. We did little fundraisers to buy misc. things we still needed. We did it all with love. I was never so proud of something as I was of our new learning center.

Here was the concept we started. "CeDIL, Centro de Desarrollo Integra Luna, is a nonprofit bilingual program for children ages 3 to 8 who are not ready for a traditional academic environment and would benefit from small groups. CeDIL partners with the families to share in the responsibility of their child's cognitive, emotional and social development. The groups are multi-aged and the curriculum is customized to meet each child's learning needs. The curriculum incorporates components of occupational therapy, speech language therapy, social skills, life skills, dynamic intelligence as well as more traditional academic areas. CeDIL is open to various developmental delays such as Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Dysfunction, and others." That was 10 years ago!!!

We left the Island in 2009 and Mayra and Nori have kept it going since than. They have made some modifications and enhanced the program and the school. They started taking younger kids starting at 18 months and created another group/class. It has grown and the little casista/learning center is full since we stared on the first day with two little boys.

It hasn't always been easy for them especially with the current economic situation in Puerto Rico where families can't afford to pay the tuition, are leaving to the mainland and there is minimal help from the government for special education. They started school in August and have had to close the school twice due to Hurricane Irma and currently Hurricane Maria. With Irma, the hurricane fortunately passed to the north but they still did sustain some water and equipment damage from the rain and wind. I had said I would help raise $1,000 to help with those little repairs. However, with Hurricane Maria currently hitting the island directly, I don't know what kind of damage the school will have and how much more help they will need. I have committed to help as much as I can from 1,000 miles away.

This place is so special to us, Sage grew and thrived there during some critical years. It became like a small family and support system for us being so far away from home. I'm still friends with so many of the other moms and of course Mayra and Noris. Carlitos, Sage's friend is now in a wheel chair and lives in California. I'm trying to get than and now pictures of the boys. When Sierra was in Puerto Rico a couple summers ago, she spent her days at the school painting, helping clean and repair toys and furniture, and she of course played with the kids. Sofia was often in the classroom with all the little boys while I sometimes worked in the office. She accompanied them on every field trip and outing we did. It was informally her school too. Their Dad did runs and races to raise money here and there. I got local friends to buy tickets to our events, donate their time and talents. They made food and even the cakes for our fundraisers. I can't stress how special of a place it is and want to help them after these hurricanes. And I can't do it alone. I have to call on my friends and family to help. If I got 100 friends to donate just $10 each we could get there! Obviously we would gladly accept larger denotations. If you want to send a check directly to the school, the address is:
Urbanizacíon Torrimar
Calle Oviedo #40
Guaynabo , Puerto Rico 00966
I just don't know about their infrastructure over the next couple of weeks. Some were just getting their electricity back on after Irma hit a couple of weeks ago.

Imagine how disruptive this all must be to a child with special needs who is used to and needs that space, structure and schedule. We have to help those kids in this small way. To have their safe and familiar space ready for them as soon as possible so they can get back to school and their therapies.

If you donate here or participate in Sage's brownie and coffee sale, I will personally ensure your donation gets to them and it is put to good use. I'll even get pictures. :) Mayra and Nori have been like two angels to not just Sage but to so many others kids they have helped over the past 20 years of providing individual therapies and the hundreds that have attended their school and summer camps. They have so much on their plates with their personal houses, families and kids. The school is obviously another worry for them which we can directly help with. I asked Sage what he wanted to say..."The school is good, they were nice to me. We should help them and all the kids."

Thank you for whatever support you can give!
  • Larissa Marquez  
    • $10 
    • 49 mos
  • Manuel Cruzado 
    • $200 
    • 49 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 49 mos
  • Janice Perez 
    • $100 
    • 49 mos
  • Sydney Hastings 
    • $50 
    • 50 mos
See all


Kathy Maestas 
Denver, CO
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