The passing of hurricanes Irma on September 5th and Maria on September 20th severely damaged three of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico (BGCPR)’ s 13 centers in Puerto Rico. Many of the BGCPR staff personally suffered the effects of the storm. But a few days after the Hurricanes, they returned to work to assess damages and determine how best to help their communities.  A survey of BGCPR programs participants revealed that 10% of them had lost everything and many others were in need of food and water.

The BGCPR offers after-school programs for kids and teens throughout Puerto Rico through community-based centers. Programs are designed to empower youth to become good citizens, and lead productive and healthy lives.  Educational programs include bilingual tutors and provide recreational activities in a safe environment. Ninety percent (90%) of children who participate in these programs live in households with a median income below the poverty level.

Read more: Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico

Among the many projects and initiatives spearheaded by the community organization Casa Pueblo, located in the town of Adjuntas, those involving solar power have become a priority since Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September. The topic of renewable energy becomes more and more relevant as the months pass and many of Puerto Rico's rural communities, including most of Adjuntas and its neighboring towns, remain without power.

Read more: Casa Pueblo

For the eight communities that border the Martin Peña Canal, a 3.7-mile-long body of water that connects the San Juan Bay with the San José Lagoon, Hurricane Maria worsened an already dire situation. Extreme poverty, faulty infrastructure and recurring public health issues have plagued the 25,000 residents of this area for generations. The source of many of these issues is years of garbage and vegetation accumulating in the channel, blocking the flow of water and flooding the communities whenever it rains. For years the nonprofit organizations that work with these communities have demanded that the government dredge the channel.

Read more: G-8, Corporación del Proyecto ENLACE del Caño Martín Peña, and Fideicomiso de la Tierra del Caño...

The link between nature and community is central to Para la Naturaleza's tireless and far reaching conservation efforts. Through workshops and events, tours of their visitor centers, and volunteer programs such as Citizen Science, they've spent years educating and actively involving people in their mission to safeguard ecologically and historically significant sites on the island.

After Hurricane Maria, Para la Naturaleza refocused its work to offer much needed services to rural communities, while simultaneously organizing a plan to reforest the island since many trees were either destroyed or damaged during the storm.

Read more: Para la Naturaleza
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