On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico with 155mph winds and over 30 inches of rainfall. The Category 4 hurricane was the strongest to hit the Island since 1928. It has now been seven months, and many, many people are still living without power and basic needs. That includes my family and their neighbors.
I grew up near Adjuntas, in the Central region of Puerto Rico, 25 miles north of Ponce. Our town, Portillo, is a farming community of 600, where people grow coffee, plantains and fruit crops. Although I live in Worcester Massachusetts and work in Boston, I’ve maintained my ties with my parents, brother, extended family and neighbors who live there. I visited Portillo in March of this year, and I was shocked by what I saw.
Seven months after the storm, people are still without power. Communicating with anyone on the island is extremely difficult, with power lines down and cellphone coverage sporadic, at best. It was sad to see how many people were struggling; it was even more difficult to see my elderly parents bathing in a bucket, unable keep food refrigerated, and most importantly, unable to communicate with loved ones in other communities. Roads and other infrastructure are still not repaired from last fall’s damage.
I’m back in the US, but I can’t forget that the basic services that all Americans take for granted – electricity, clean water, communications, transportation – are not available to the people of my native town. Farmers, including my family, lost their crops and cannot afford to maintain generators on an on-going basis. I bought a generator for my family after Hurricane Maria; running it costs up to $200 a week, a cost that few people there can maintain.
In the months since the Hurricane, my parents told me very little about the hardships they and their neighbors were enduring. You know how parents can be – they don’t want to be “a burden” to their children. But now I’ve seen how difficult their lives are. That’s why I’m turning to you, my friends and acquaintances, for help. I’m trying to raise funds for a solar energy system for my family so that they can be independent from the power grid. My parents are working with their church to help their community. If they have a dependable source of power, they will serve as a distribution point for their community for the clean water, food, and supplies that your contributions will provide.
Any contributions that you make will go to the following:
- A sustainable solar energy system ($6,000). The installation will be done pro bono by a US-based company.
- Food and water (beans, rice, canned goods, simple medical supplies) ($4,000)
- Emergency assistance, administered through the church, to families to supplement gas & oil for people with generators ($2,000).
I am asking for your help to support this effort by donating whatever you feel you're able to contribute. The goal is to reach $12,000, but every little amount helps the people of Portillo.
Thank you for your generosity, and for caring for others.
Ismael (aka Izzy) Rivera.
DonationsSee top donations
- Adam Hughes
- Barry Callis
- Edna Barbosa
- Michael Breyette
- Thomas Wilhelm
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more