Support MCN for #GivingTuesday: Former MCNer Raises Funds for Puerto Rico
[Editor’s Note: Congratulations, Kerry Brennan! Our former Environmental and Occupational Health Program Associate successfully raised $1000 for relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Migrant Clinicians Network works closely with clinicians throughout Puerto Rico. Now, we are focusing our efforts in supporting our clinician partners and their communities that still lack reliable electricity, clean water sources, or regular communication, more than seven weeks after the disaster struck. As part of Giving Tuesday this year, we ask that you stand with us and support our efforts to help Puerto Rico recover with a donation. If you can’t make a monetary gift, there are more ways for you to help -- visit us at http://www.migrantclinician.org/giving-tuesday to find out how. Here’s Kerry’s piece on why she decided to stop reading the news and take action. Please join Kerry in supporting Puerto Rico’s recovery and be sure to share this with your friends and family.]
I’ve been closely following the news in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit. During my time at MCN, our Environmental and Occupational Health office partnered with health centers in Puerto Rico to offer clinical trainings and establish health and safety programs for workers. I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico, “la Isla del Encanto”, twice in 2016.
Now, those very communities that I visited were in ruins. It was unreal. The news and images showed the “apocalyptic” damage. The Puerto Rico I knew was vibrant, green, and beautiful, with bright, colorful houses stacked on mountainsides… What was this wrecked, bare land covered in brown water? The level of devastation was hard to process. Days pressed on, then weeks, and things only got worse.
Seven weeks out, many Puerto Ricans are still without clean water, fresh food, or electricity. Lack of access to clean water is causing a rise in bacterial infections. Impassable roads means people are struggling to get to clinics to receive care and medications. Tremendous stress and uncertainty about their future, their wellbeing, and their job security are taking a toll on mental and emotional health.
It affected me. As the desperation rose, I felt compelled to do something. I fumbled for a while, unsure of how to make an impact. Until one night I had an idea.
I am a dance teacher and absolutely love Latin dance styles. I thought maybe I could put together a Latin Dance Workshop/Event to raise funds for Puerto Rico. I reached out to Veronica Correa, LCSW-C, the Director of The Personal Wellness Center in Salisbury, MD, to see if the Center would be able to help me host this fundraiser. Veronica, who has wanted to offer Latin dance classes at the center, said yes without hesitation. The event came together with the help and hard work of Veronica, Zlati Koscani, Vanessa Bowers, LCSW-C, and the interns at The Personal Wellness Center.
The fundraiser was held last Friday at The Personal Wellness Center. We offered “happy hour” snacks and sangria and the Center raffled off a variety of gifts and services. I taught Salsa, Cumbia, and Merengue. We learned the basic steps of each style, combined the steps, and danced each combination with music. Around 30 attended and, in total, we raised $1,000 which will be donated to Puerto Rican nonprofits and community organizations that are helping in recovery efforts post Hurricane Maria.
I am eternally grateful to the staff at The Personal Wellness Center for making my vision a success. My sincerest thank you to those who came out for this event.
I believe that within all of us there lies creativity and energy to pursue our passions. This event energized me. There is no greater purpose for our creativity and passion than to help others. I look forward to pursuing the next opportunity to do so.
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