I have been carefully watching the news out of Puerto Rico for the past week, amplifying news stories and encouraging support. But over the past 24 hours in particular, as I watched San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz’s emotional pleas for help with tears streaming down my face, I fear we have not been strong enough in our appeals.
If you have not yet watched the Mayor’s desperate plea for help for the people of Puerto Rico and straight talk about the inadequate emergency response, it is clear that is a fast-growing humanitarian crisis right here in America, and it’s nearly unimaginable in scale.
(Top photo: Global Giving)
3.5 million people live on the island of Puerto Rico. For comparison sake, fewer than half a million lived in New Orleans during Katrina. (Though clearly the impact of the hurricane was felt far beyond New Orleans).
So we’re asking you to help.
What Mayor CarmenYulín Cruz of San Juan is doing right now.
We have a big-hearted, caring, benevolent readership and for that I’ve always been grateful. Who among us hasn’t mourned — and more — for Texas. Florida. Mexico. Boston. Nice. London and Paris. Peru. Haiti. Japan. New York and New Jersey. Manchester. Syria. Ferguson. Charleston. Orlando. Charlottesville.
(God, that list is depressing. And it’s not even near complete.)
When people are hurting, when they are in need, when they are desperate, we all step up:
Parents helping parents. Families helping families. Humans helping humans.
While recently we shared a post about those in Puerto Rico and Mexico, I’m afraid our roundup of charitable organizations on the ground in Puerto Rico got lost in all the information there. So I’d like to repost and update that information again now:
How to help Puerto Rico
This list is being continually updated
*Unidos Por Puerto Rico was founded by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, to help the victims of Irma and now Maria. They’re doing good, important work with 100% of the proceeds directly supporting those affected.
*The One America Appeal is a brilliant and impactful collaboration from 5 of our 6 living presidents: President Carter, Presidents Bush 1 and 2, President Clinton and President Obama. “Every cent donated” will help Americans recovering from disaster.
*The Miami Herald introduced us to The Puerto Rican Leadership Council of South Florida which has been a fount of information on what’s happening, what the problems have been and how to help. They have set up donations for Operation Oasis, entirely dedicated to bringing potable water to the island.
*PBS recommends the Maria Recovery Fund from the Center of Popular Democracy.
*Lin-Manuel Miranda has been promoting Hispanic Federation, which chartered a plane to get first responders from New York to PR, among other things. If Lin-Manuel supports them, that’s good enough for me.
*The International Medical Corps is a four-star Charity Navigator rated organization, providing essential help on the ground.
*Global Giving (their photo at top) has increased their fundraising goal from $2mm to $5mm.
*Vox has provided a solid list of organizations that’s primed to help in Puerto Rico, including ConPRmetidos, The American Red Cross (which details the work they’ve accomplished so far, should you be ambivalent about them as many are these days), and Americares.
*Operation Blessing (recommended to us by reader Micaela Paulina) has gotten high marks from Mayor Cruz for meaningful impact, including distribution of solar lights to families; partnerships with local bakeries to bake bread for Chef José Andréas to use in sandwiches for hospital workers and the elderly; and essential work to combat the water crisis, including bringing in large-scale water purification equipment.
*Beyonce’s BEYGOOD page is suggesting charities for various relief efforts, including Somos Una Voz, an alliance created by Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and a collective of well-known artists. They’re rushing necessary supplies and infrastructure support to those in immediate need.
For a roundup of highly-rated organizations that are helping communities in the aftermath of Maria, take a look at Charity Navigator.
If you can’t donate money…here’s what you can do.
This list via Unidos por Puerto Rico:
If you’re in New York State, Governor Cuomo in partnership with TIDAL X BROOKLYN has set up multiple drop-off locations (Albany, Syracuse, Buffalo, the boroughs of NYC, Yonkers, Long Island and more) for specific supplies: batteries, flashlights, portable lanterns, diapers, baby wipes, cases of water and feminine hygiene products, all new and unopened. They aim to fill a plane by October 5
You can donate blood through your local Red Cross, or look for local drives earmarked for Puerto Rico.
Donate Temporary Housing
You can donate a property to house evacuees through the Airbnb emergency shelter program. Also, HomeAway has listed a program specifically for Harvey evacuees, but surely you can donate to Maria victims as well. If you have a HomeAway property, contact them for more info.
Shop for a Cause
In the coming weeks, there will be a lot of products and services donating proceeds to hurricane relief. Right now, you can download the Beyoncé single Mi Gente, and 100% of the profits will support relief efforts. More info at beyonce.com/reliefefforts/
Contact Your Representatives
You can call your elected representatives to urge them to act. The Resistbot app is a favorite, and makes it incredibly easy deliver a message via your texting app, especially if you’re uncomfortable talking to someone in person or leaving a message.
Use Your Social Platforms
You can use your social platforms using hashtags like #UnidosPorPuertoRico #UnidosPorPR #UnitedforPR #PuertoRicoNeedsHelpNow #MariaPR. Even if you’re just talking to a small network of friends and family on Facebook or Instagram, you never know who you might reach, and what amazing things they may be able to do.
— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) September 29, 2017
The USNS Comfort is essentially a floating trauma center and hospital, and is finally en route
Official US Navy file photo
Every one of us can be an activist, pushing our government to do more and do what is right.
It’s important that we acknowledge that the US government response to Puerto Rico has been inadequate. It’s okay to be vocal and it’s okay to be angry.
I know I am.
But let’s use those emotions for good.
Know that it was the collective chorus of outraged voices on social media which became a news story, which finally forced the administration to stop ignoring the problem this week and finally — if 8 days late — waive absurd the shipping restrictions of the Jones Act that were preventing the delivery of life-saving supplies.
Every voice matters.
And please please remember, this is not a political issue. This is not Democrats vs Republicans. This is about our shared humanity and desire to lift one another up, the way we would hope to be lifted up should it ever be our own families in such dire need.
You can do this. We can do this.
We are mothers of dragons.