To the Editor:
(Plain Press, November 2017) On behalf of Esperanza, I express my gratitude for the numerous calls and emails we have received from our supporters, checking on the welfare of our family and friends in Puerto Rico and to lend your support in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. More than half – or over 50,000 – of Northeast Ohio’s Hispanic population trace their roots to Puerto Rico. As a result, the majority of our Esperanza students, staff and volunteers have family members in Puerto Rico literally struggling to survive, with a lack of safe food and water, no electricity and now a growing threat from disease.
Our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico need your help. The Cleveland Foundation has established an online giving platform, clevelandfoundation.org/puertorico, to which local residents can make contributions through November 30. The funds, which were jump started with a $50,000 seed grant from the Cleveland Foundation and supplemented by a $25,000 grant from the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, will be transferred directly to the Puerto Rico Community Foundation and specifically designated for use on the ground for hurricane relief efforts in the hardest hit areas. In addition, the Hispanic community and organizations have joined together to host tomorrow a telethon on WEWS Channel 5 to raise funds to provide relief. For more information on Cleveland for Puerto Rico Relief Efforts, including upcoming events, resources and the latest news, please visit www.CLE4PR.org.
Please join us in doing all you can to help our fellow Americans who are struggling to find even the basic necessities to survive. Your support to these programs will help provide much needed short-term relief. As a community, we do anticipate longer-term challenges as friends and family are forced, because of deplorable conditions, to leave the island and join their loved ones in Northeast Ohio. We believe we will see an increase, in the coming months, for relocation assistance including help with school enrollment and coordination with social services. We will continue to keep you updated on the needs of these families and how you might be able to help.
Thank you for your consideration and please continue to keep our students, families, staff and volunteers with loved ones in Puerto Rico in your thoughts and prayers.
Victor A. Ruiz