By Gary Holmes (member Board of Outreach)
On behalf of the Board of Outreach I am inviting you to attend our second Latin Dance Party on September 27 at 7:00 p.m. to raise funds for Puerto Rico, which is still reeling from the consequences of Hurricane Maria. Those of you who were there for our first event last year know that it was a tremendous amount of fun, with Puerto Rican music, dancing, food, and community fellowship.
Once again, the Latin Dance Party will feature the music of Park City, a local Puerto Rican band. This is a family-friendly event, and we would encourage you to bring friends and neighbors who enjoy having a good time.
Two years after Hurricane Maria, the need for hurricane-related recovery has not ended. After having built important bonds after our first Latin Dance Party, and made an initial investment in the people of Mariana, Puerto Rico, last year, the Board of Outreach does not want to say that our job is done and move on to something else.
This year we will be raising funds for senior residents of Mariana whose homes were damaged by the Hurricane. These residents have not had the resources or strength to repair their dwellings themselves, which has affected their health, their ability to participate in the community and their overall state of mind. Our goal is to help at least five seniors restore their homes.
We will be collaborating with the same Mariana agency that operates the community center we funded last year. They have identified the elderly residents who need help. The funds we raise will be used to buy basic supplies such as new windows, new doors, roof sealers, paint, and other building supplies.
As you may remember, last September, we raised money to help transform an abandoned elementary school in the mountainous village of Mariana into a community center. To make sure the money we raised was being spent wisely, I participated in a mission trip myself last spring to see for myself the progress that was being made in Mariana. I sanded dining tables and painted doors, but most importantly, I sat down with the Center’s director, Francisco Nieves, who showed me the receipts for the materials our contributions had bought.
The money we raised had been spent outfitting the main community room and the dorms where volunteers were sleeping. We’d bought the bunk beds and mattresses that I slept on, ceiling fans, couches, chairs, lockers, a refrigerator, and other furniture and equipment. I was happy to see that the money had been well-spent.
Just as important, I was happy to see that so much progress had been made in transforming the school into a community center. Volunteers and local residents alike had quickly turned the dream into a reality. The center officially opened several months after my visit and is now providing educational, economic, and social services to the village.
Tickets for the September 27 event ($35 each) are now available at the link here. If you can’t attend but would like to contribute, you can also make a donation at this site. For more information contact me at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or John Stuart (email@example.com).