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MA Steps Up for Puerto Rico, Again


Tuesday, September 27, 2022   

Massachusetts residents are being asked to step up, just as they did five years ago, to help their fellow Americans in Puerto Rico.

The Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico Fund raised more than $4 million after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017. But government dysfunction, and the immense structural damage from the storm, allowed many of the donated goods to go to waste.

Aixa Beauchamp, co-founder of the Latino Equity Fund and Mass United Fund for Puerto Rico at the Boston Foundation who helped lead fundraising efforts following Maria, said this time, relief organizations are using their knowledge and experience from the previous storm and are better equipped to help those in need.

"The best way to help the island is through the current nonprofits that we already have," Beauchamp emphasized. "Who've been institutional partners for many, many years there on the island, and really know how to get support to the island."

She pointed out the need is great. More than a week after Hurricane Fiona made landfall, hundreds of thousands of people remain without water or electricity. Roads are washed out, many schools are closed and families remain in shelters.

A list of nonprofits is on the Boston Foundation's website. Some are focusing on schools, while others are working with small businesses flooded in hard-to-reach mountainous areas.

Beauchamp noted Puerto Rican families are exhausted, and she is confident people in Massachusetts will donate what they can.

"This is a generous state," Beauchamp asserted. "It has the third-largest Puerto Rican community, so I am hoping and banking on the generosity of Massachusetts residents."

President Joe Biden has said the federal government would fully cover the cost of relief efforts in Puerto Rico for the next month, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has suggested the use of Community Block Grants to train workers on the island to repair infrastructure damage.

Meanwhile, local agencies are working tirelessly to feed and shelter families in need.

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