Local communities ramp up efforts for Puerto Rico

Mayor Garcia rallies the community in Holyoke to prep care packages for Puerto Rico.
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 5:20 PM EDT
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HOLYOKE, MA. (WGGB/WSHM) - Puerto Rico continues to grapple with the destruction caused by Hurricane Fiona which made landfall on the island on Sunday. Now, local communities in Western Mass have ramped up donation efforts to help those impacted by the storm.

Western Mass News spoke with the vice president of community relations at one organization in Springfield as well as the mayor of Holyoke to find out more about the donations underway for families in Puerto Rico.

“We’re not collecting goods because right now we’re working with City and State Officials’ other representatives down on the island as well to really assess the needs,” said Rivera- McFarlin.

Jade Rivera-McFarlin is the Vice President of Development and Community Relations at the Gandara Mental Health Center in Springfield.

She told Western Mass News how she is working with local city leaders to collect donations for people in Puerto Rico who are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.

“As we’re getting word from boots on the ground on the island, we are going to be able to purchase what they need but to be prepared for that in the meantime we are collecting funds,” said Rivera- McFarlin.

The city of Holyoke is another community rallying behind Puerto Rico, packing care packages for families on the island. Western Mass News spoke with Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia who told us seeing the damage from Hurricane Fiona hits close to home.

“We all have family over there including me and when the electricity goes out and you don’t have that connection you’re concerned and you are overwhelmed by wondering or not your family or your relatives or friends are doing well out there,” said Mayor Garcia.

Mayor Garcia said that Holyoke is also prepared to accept any migrants into the paper city, just like they did for Hurricane Maria in 2017.

“If there is going to be phase 2 we’ve been talking about how we’re going to respond when migrants start making their way over here. During hurricane Maria we had a lot of families and children over 200 kids new into our school district that got accepted in the process,” said Mayor Garcia.

And he adds that huge progress is being made with care packages that will be sent to the island.

“These packages are in these small boxes with basic essentials that are going to get delivered to households over there on the island,” said Mayor Garcia.

Donations can be sent to: www.gandaracenter.org/prrelief