Puerto Rico Rises Strong
Puerto Rico Se Levanta!
This year Hispanic Heritage month began with an urgent humanitarian crisis, with
our brothers and sisters from Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Texas, California
and Mexico enduring devastating deadly earthquakes, fires and hurricanes. It
felt like Mother Earth was trying to send us a message. During these challenging
times, I also witnessed some very memorable moments.
• People gathered outside their homes with candle
lights, sharing stories, singing and praying.
• First responders, military personnel and
volunteers arrived ready to work hard in
re-building Puerto Rico.
• Neighbors connected extension cords across
the streets to share generator power.
• A humble home became the neighborhood
kitchen, and the distribution place for the
• People shared the little that they had to
assist others in greater need.
• Youth groups volunteered to deliver water
bottles into extremely remote areas and fed
the elderly in nursing homes.
• Medical doctors and nurses volunteered at
all hours of the day and night.
• Gas lines, grocery store lines and bank
lines filled with people patiently waiting for
• Little children running to gather supplies for
“Vilmary Santos & Marisa Rivera Levi
Volunteering at World Central Kitchen.”
• People crying at the airport as they said good-bye to their loved ones.
• I also witnessed the enormous mobilization of Puerto Ricans abroad,
gathering supplies, raising funds and saying “Presente” to assist their
brothers and sisters.
I left Puerto Rico with a grateful heart full of love and hope. Although
it will take years to re-build and re-grow what hurricane Maria so
ferociously destroyed, the essence, the soul and the Puerto Rican spirit
only grew stronger, and more resilient than ever.
Just within my family from across the United States and Puerto Rico, I
witnessed how each one offered what they could, using their talents and
abilities. Fundraisers and water collections in NC, Go-Fund-Me’s in Pittsburg
and D.C. Supply deliveries thru United Airlines, to Paella Cook off’s in California,
and even a lemonade stand donation from my 10-year-old niece, Karina.
At the end of the day, we are all human beings in need of each other
Puerto Rico se levanta - Puerto Rico will rise stronger and more beautiful
Marisa Rivera is president of Mpowerment Works, a motivational
speaker, executive coach and leadership and empowerment consultant.
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By Marisa Rivera
I found myself explaining the unique ties
between Puerto Rico and the U.S. Puerto Rico
as a U.S. territory. Puerto Rico was seceded to
the U.S. by Spain in December 1898 as
part of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the
Spanish-American War. Barely a month before
the United States entered World War I. President
Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth
act, granting U.S. citizenship to the inhabitants
of Puerto Rico. The goal of granting citizenship
was so that they could join the U.S. Army. As
citizens of the United States, Puerto Ricans
have participated in every major U.S. military
engagement from World War I to the present.
Three few weeks after the hurricane, I went
to Puerto Rico to deliver supplies and volunteer
at Chef Jose Andres World Central Kitchen. On
any given day, they made hot meals and
prepared 14,000 to 36,000 sandwiches and
paellas and delivered them to hospitals,
senior centers and parts of the island that
have very little access by roads.
As I was landing in Puerto Rico my heart sank. I feared what I was
going to witness in my beloved island of Puerto Rico. But, what I found
was the heart and soul of Puerto Ricans rising to the call. Although almost
90 percent of the island was without electricity and running water and
many basic necessities, friends, neighbors and complete strangers raised
to helped each other. I saw many angels all around…
Marisa Blake and sons, Cadence, and Asa during
fundraiser in Asheville, NC.
44 www.latinastyle.com LATINAStyle Vol. 23, No. 6, 2017