Because Puerto Rico still needs help.
Weeks ago the media stopped really covering Puerto Rico and the devastation Hurricane Maria left on the island. In what feels like a never-ending stream of shocking headlines, news of Puerto Rico has been overshadowed by more recent events. But while our attention may have shifted to other issues, Puerto Rico is still suffering and still needs our help.
Most of the island remains without power or clean water. “Running water that may be available to some of the island is contaminated and needs to be boiled but they have no working stoves or resources to do so. Going to the bathroom without running water is the reality the island has been dealing with since September,” explains Nichelle Jensen, co-founder of People Helping Puerto Rico. “Only a small percentage of the hospitals on the island are operating and those hospitals are operating only at a fraction of their normal capacity. This means most people aren’t receiving basic healthcare like something as simple as an asthma inhaler. Makeshift medical clinics in school gymnasiums and churches are currently serving the majority of the medical needs for the island. Most people are living without roofs which makes most homes breeding grounds for mold, if they are not already covered in mold. Puerto Rico is hot, humid, and covered in mosquitos, many children and elderly folks aren’t healthy enough to handle the combination of the heat, lack of water, and lack of shelter for such a long period of time. Even for some citizens who may have power restored, their refrigerators are now covered in mold and their stoves were destroyed by the storm. An average cost for a new roof is about $3,000 and with a large percentage of businesses not in operation, people are without work and without funds to put another roof on their home or buy a new stove.”
Co-founder Ryan Smart adds, “In other areas[affected by disaster], people are connected by land, so you can drive in resources, neighbors can come help rebuild — not on an island, especially on an island that has not had basic needs met for a long time. These people are suffering. Puerto Rico is in an even worse state than it was the days of the storm .”
Jensen and Smart wanted to help alleviate some of Puerto Rico’s pain so they reached out to the Vivint Gives Back initiative, whose leaders have served as invaluable mentors, and partnered with the nonprofit Wings of Hope. They created the Instagram account People Helping PR, and started asking businesses and individuals to donate goods and services to be auctioned. “These items range from something as simple as a baked good all the way up to a week’s stay at a VRBO in Hawaii — if you’re lucky you can bid on both and be eating a chocolate cream pie on the beaches of Oahu,” Smart says. “We post the good and service and ask the donor along with all our friends and businesses to share the cause on their feeds.” All donated items will be available for bidding Saturday, December 2 at 8 pm (PST), and the auction will close Sunday, December 3 at 8 pm (PST). The highest bidder on each post will win the item, and their donation will go directly to the people of Puerto Rico.
The list of items is both long and impressive, and all donated by people who just want to help. “People are good — that’s what we’ve found,” Smart says. “The majority of people are so willing to help however they can, most just don’t know how. People may not be able to donate a lot of money or go and physically help, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing. All people have talents and this lets up tap into that, allow them to do good, and use that talent to help so many others. It’s also contagious, when people see others jumping in to help, they don’t want to miss out either. It’s a great way to join people together, create a mini community and also show off people’s talents — so many side benefits on being a part of one of these auctions.” Jensen adds, “Making people see that there is a lot of value to be had from any size effort has created a domino effect and more donations keep rolling in.”
Jensen and Smart hope to raise enough from the auction to see roofs go on houses and see food, water, and medical supplies reach the Puerto Ricans that need them. “We’d like to help as many people as we possibly can,” Jensen says.
Remember, the auction begins SATURDAY at 8 PM (PST), and can be found at @peoplehelpingpr on Instagram. Your winning bids will help People Helping Puerto Rico live up to its name.