Thank you sincerely to everyone who supported our cause in Vieques, Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. We are honored to have connected the island to internet for ATM access, the radio station and grocery store card readers. 70% of the island is dependent on welfare food stamps which also requires a card reader connected to the internet. With your help, thousands of families were fed and able to call home during these desperate times. Thank you deeply to all those who contributed and shared our message. #ViequesSeLevanta
We are 3 private citizens
who saw an immediate need to restore communications
to a magical place just off the coast of Puerto Rico --- Vieques.
In an attempt to bring a little emotional relief to countless families worried about their relatives enduring a tragedy of mother nature, bureaucracy, and inaction, our mission is to GIVE VIEQUES A VOICE.
We call ourselves GenerationGives
(Tarah Read, Joe Puthur, Bo Gurskis)
Equipped with Communications Satellite for WiFi internet, 10 Garmin inReach devices, and solar powers we head to Vieques, PR.
In under a week we managed to understand the existing support groups here, and how we could best influence and impact with the following: 1) Help people talk with others through WiFi & Sat Phones
WiFi in the Plaza
2) Connect ATMs to WiFi for Cash Withdrawls
Cash helps locals & Aid Groups to have access to cash
to patron local restaurants and buy anything.
We were faced with the challenge that the only bank on the island would not work with us to connect their ATM. We contacted the private owner of 4 ATM's on the island and happy to report that all 4 ATM's are connected to our satellite, The local bank had theirs working within 24 hours. Leading by example, the local bank is now able to allow cash to be withdrawn from their bank account owners. Check out this 2 minute video to see how we gave CASH back to Vieques!3) Connect the Grocery Stores to our Satellite WiFi
so people can have ability to buy things with Credit Cards or even use FAMILIA (70% of island uses). Think about other items such as diapers, hygeniene products, that you can buy if you have the financial means.
We now have 5 Grocery stores using our Satellite and over 3,000 families have been able to buy food!WATCH GenerationGives & Red Cross share that the grocery store is now accepting credit cards including Familia! Owners and staff of Colmado Milka on Culebra Island who were ecstatic to be able to sell real food to its 2,000 residentsAn explanation from Laine who takes great care of all the volunteers at the El Blok hotel on why communication is so important. Thank you Laine!
4) Leverage Garmin InReach Devices
These GPS devices are awesome! They allow you to send unlimited text messages and social posts to Facebook with its built in Satellite. They can also be used for safety and can send an SOS. We have equipped multiple members of organizations here including the ARMY, PostMaster, Navy, ViequesLove, RedCross, and local liasons so that we can all communicate with each other to be more synegous and communicate off the island.Here's an example text from Joe showing his location and messagePamela the Post Master can now communicate off the island allowing priority shipping to Vieques
Rodney is with NAVY & in the Command Center & in this photo he has one of our routers to help improve speed.
Sargent Brijbukhan and his team guard crucial places such as the water plant and hospital where generators are being used.
We have also been helping the Red Cross with patient check ups. Bo Gurskis a full-time student uses his Emergency Response experience as EC-ERT from Eckerd College. Tarah Read is bilingual and is able to help translate for Bo and patients. The team has also successfully get patiens evacuated from the island. Here are a few videos of their efforts:Luis is 91 with Cancer and his daughter had not heard from him in 3 weeks:Bo working to get medical evacuationsWe have additional goals such as getting the Vieques Radio station back online.
Joe Puthur has been working with Edgar the radio technician on Culebra Island for the last 3 days. There were 2 successful tests, unfortunately, yesterday the generator failed and needs replacing.
We hope to update soon that the Radio Station is running allowing for a more broader way to communicate information. Here's Bob and Joe at Radio Vieques
We are also working to provide WiFi to two schools so students can get online. One of which never had Wifi before.
Puerto Rico is a very important part of the USA and every single person living in what is essentially the 22nd largest state by population.
We are answering the call of the citizens for help. As Florida residents, we live in the state closest to you – and as good neighbors help neighbors. As a visitor of Vieques, you helped me make some amazing memories, I am here to help you.
Our friends and colleagues who simply have asked for an easy way to help make the message louder, please feel free to contribute. The funds will be used to offset and pay for the technology equipment & services we have already invested in and need to continue so that these activites are not impacted.
Please look at our progress. We are averaging $15,000 reoccurring monthly expenses with our current set up, so any help is appreciated, even just a share and like on our Facebook page: Generation GivesThe larger costs are:
- 2 Iridium Satellite for Wifi access
- Wifi subscriptions for the 2 satellites
- 10 GARMIN inREACH SATELLITE Communicators
devices with subscription fees allowing unlimted text and social posts to Facebook
Follow GenerationGives on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram for additional updates. See more images below from our trip. Photos of the devastation House turned upside downCalling home Lines for MREsOur first family to receive an inverter, solar panel, and rechargeable batteries. The kids were so excited to be able to play their gameboy again! Tarah Read, Bo Gurskis, and Joe Puthur of Generation Gives with Cajun Airlift, Red Cross, and ViequesLove working together helping restore Vieques, Puerto Rico.
We want -- and need -- to be part of that solution, so please donate. The desperation here is intense.
Thank you everyone for your help.