On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 hurricane ripped through the tiny island of Vieques Puerto Rico at speeds of 160 MPH leaving catastrophic devastation in its path. Over 400 homes were completely lost and more than double that was destroyed. Vieques Puerto Rico, a US territory is situated only 7 miles off the Eastern coast of the mainland of Puerto Rico, however, since Maria, it may as well be a million miles away. There are just over 9,000 residents who call this beautiful island home. People on Vieques were already struggling prior to the storm and now their homes and livelihood have been lost. Many residents are wondering how they are going to survive on the island. They are wondering where they are going to live. Many are leaving the island, leaving behind the only life they have ever known. Tourism is the primary source of revenue for the island. Unfortunately, with the sustained damage on our island, many vacationers are canceling their vacation plans.
For several years my husband and I have spent the winters and part of the spring on Vieques. My husband and I have fallen in love with the beauty of the island but even more so the people of the island. There is something special about the Viequense people. They love and support their families and they look out for their neighbors. They take care of each other. At night you can go to the plaza in the center of town and there you will find families sitting on the park benches chatting with other family members neighbors and friends as their children ride their bikes, skateboard, and play. Often times when you drive by their homes you will see 3 generations of family members sitting on the porch talking and laughing. And the teenagers aren’t sitting in the house watching tv or on their computers. No, they are riding their horses around the island, playing basketball and baseball at the municipal courts and fields. If one of them befriends you, you will have a friend for life. They will treat you as if you are part of their family.
“The night before hurricane I felt utterly helpless as I watched the weather reports. Hurricane Maria was churning through the leeward islands with reports of being the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 89 years. The last report before I headed to bed was that Hurricane Maria was now sustaining winds of over 185 mph with gusts beyond 225 miles per hour. They were saying that it was a category 6 hurricane for any of you weather buffs out there you know there is no such thing as a category 6 hurricane. My heart physically hurt. All I could do was pray.” The next morning, I anxiously awoke to see how the island made out. To make sure my friends were ok. But nothing. There were barely any reports. All I knew was that Hurricane Maria was bad but all communication had been lost during the storm.
2 Days later I was at the Gym on the treadmill, I looked up at the 10 tv screens that lined the wall in front of me and all I saw was the devastation that hurricane Maria left behind, on every screen you could see storm waters rushing through towns and homes 3 stories high. Homes completely flattened homes without roofs or walls. People walking the streets in absolute shock it looked like a bomb went off. I could feel the tears running down my face.
My heart was broken. At that very minute I began to pray Dear Lord What can I do to help and at that very moment God spoke to me with 25 years of real estate, new construction and real estate development experience I was going to help rebuild Vieques. I went home and started working on Gods plan. I called friends in the industry and wrote out details and plans and that was when Hope Builders was born. Hope Builders is a nonprofit faith-based organization that serves to help people rebuild their homes and or lives after disaster or tragedy strikes, while sharing the Hope we have in Jesus Christ.
Hope Builders goal is to construct and donate 100 sustainable concrete 2-bedroom, 1 bath homes approximately 600 sq. ft. for the residents of Vieques Puerto Rico who lost their homes to hurricane Maria. We will be relying on the gifts of construction professionals, laypersons and people like you for support. In doing this we will also be stimulating the economy there because although we will be using volunteer workers we will also be hiring locals to work. We will need to rent homes for our volunteers to stay at which will also put the house cleaners back in business and we will be hiring locals to cook the meals for our volunteers, we will need transportation and we will be using the restaurants and stores.
Hope Builders is working in partnership with Concerned Residents for Improvement or COREFI a Vieques nonprofit that supplies food and medical supplies to the islands elderly, young families and the most in need. It is a perfect partnership. We will be serving the same people that COREFI serves.
If you would like to join us, on our mission, please go to the volunteer page and send us a message. Someone will contact you right away.
Thank you, for your interest in Hope Builders. Please check back often to see updates that we will make as we carry out our mission.