Just one week after Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico in late September, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Foundation, in partnership with the Latino Legacy Fund and civic leaders from Boston’s Latino community, announced the creation of Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico/Massachusetts Unido por Puerto Rico.
To date, nearly 2,000 individuals have made credit card donations totaling more than $340,000 in small gifts. In addition thousands of others have made small donations through fundraisers and other events across the Commonwealth. Leadership gifts came from the Walton Family Foundation, MassMutual Foundation, Steward Healthcare, the Clippership Foundation, Tufts Health Plan Foundation and many others.
By December 17, the Fund already had raised more than $3 million and approved more than $1 million in grants to nonprofit organizations in Massachusetts and Puerto Rico in what will be an ongoing effort to support relief, reconstruction and relocation efforts through 2018. To help the residents of the island, a large percentage of whom are still living without power, grants are going to grassroots relief and reconstruction efforts in Puerto Rico.
“We are pleased to be getting more than a million dollars out to organizations that are working on the ground to help people in Puerto Rico and here in Massachusetts,” said Juan Carlos Morales, co-chair of Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico. “This is just the first stage of an ongoing effort to meet the long-term needs of those displaced from the island and of those who are working in Puerto Rico to return life there to normal.”
In Massachusetts, grants are going to organizations that are providing frontline support for families and individuals displaced from Puerto Rico. The largest share of the relocation-related grants are earmarked for organizations serving the influx of people from Puerto Rico in Western Massachusetts. “Western Massachusetts has received the largest share of the estimated 5,000 Puerto Ricans arriving in the Commonwealth since Maria,” explained Fund co-chair Aixa Beauchamp.
Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, also co-chair of the Fund, said, “This docket is the result of an unmatched combination of generosity, partnerships and weeks of diligent research to identify and connect with grassroots organizations across the island—many of which have been doing their critical work under unimaginably difficult circumstances. These organizations are quite literally saving lives every day.”
The need only grows both for residents of Puerto Rico and those organizations helping families displaced from the island.