A member of the Unitarian Universalist Village Church sent a message to some members of the congregation, maybe all, suggesting it might be appropriate to have a conversation about how the church might assist the Unitarian Universalist Puerto Rico (UUPR) congregation as they attempt to help the island recover. I sent a message to the UUPR Facebook page, asking how other congregations might be able to help. Here’s the response I got this morning, in the early hours:
Hi John, Thank you for your patience. As one news organization rightly pointed out, we should have moved to the Recovery Phase yet we are still in Emergency Phase one month out. 80% of the island is still without power and even though the statistics show 71% have running water, 100% of it is still unsafe to drink as it is not being chlorinated yet. Consequently recovery efforts are painfully slow. We are working on an initiative with a local NGO whose management I am personally familiar. http://www.conprmetidos.org/ Before the disaster, it was a nonprofit seeking to attract PR millennials back to the island for their businesses, etc. So they already had staff working on island development, but have had to pivot to island recovery efforts. The important thing is that they have trained people on the ground who are trying to appraise needs (keeping in mind it is still impossible to each some communities other than by helicopter). No public schools have yet reopened and when they do only a fraction will be able to do so. They are sadly looking at a lost year of education for students. I wanted to give you this overview so you wouldn’t think we were ignoring your kind and generous offer. Hopefully this week, we can iron out the details of assistance. Most likely it would be for a congregation to “adopt” a Boys/Girls Club location to get it up and running. These facilities (there is at least one in every city in PR) are serving as community centers in a way no other organization can. The aid would be to provide a generator (hopefully solar), and water purification so activities and maybe even some educational programs could start to take place. So please stay tuned! We are eager to match up congregations with needs on the island — and there will be so many. One estimate I have seen is that it will take $91 billion, yes, billion, for all the recovery efforts, and 5-6 years….
I don’t know whether the UUVC congregation can adopt a Boys/Girls Club. But anyone who reads this message can help in some way. There are many organizations collecting cash to help PR rebuild. Here’s a place to start.