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The Hopes And Resiliency Of Teens In Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria

SAN JUAN, PR – Last September, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. As cleanup and reconstruction continue, members of The Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico are still actively helping their communities, but they face challenges when it comes to resources. “They have the power to change our society. We only have to fight for them, for their voices,” says Yaritza Cotto, Director, Boys & Girls Club of Luis Llorens Torres Public Housing.

On May 15, Beet.TV went to San Juan to interview Boys & Girls Clubs leaders and members for a status report on the island’s post-hurricane progress. It was made possible by a grant from interactive advertising pioneer true[X].

As it has since the natural disaster, the advertising and media community will coalesce once again to assist the organization in a fund-raiser that will take place during the Beet.TV Retreat in the City on June 6. It’s organized under the auspices of Stand With Puerto Rico. Olga Ramos, President of Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico, will be one of the featured guests at the Retreat.

The San Juan interviews begin with Beraliz Germocen explaining how she and other young people have responded to “a state of chaos and downfall.”

Says Germocen, “We cleared our streets, we got out the garbage, we aided our sick children, we gave food to each other. We know we have this potential and this spirit in us to fight.”

As efforts progress, however, Germocen explains that it’s not easy to keep everyone motivated toward the common goal of complete recovery. This poses challenges. “As a youth, I find in myself, how can I reach or approach a fellow youth or adults, elderly and everyone in my community to take the next step?”

Says Cotto of Germocen, “She’s a powerful young woman and she’s an example of the courage of our teens, of our young, of our kids in our community. They want to do something different. They only need the opportunity.”

While Puerto Ricans in general are known for being resilient, “When you look at young people I have to say it’s resiliency at its best,” says Ramos, an attorney and longtime Walmart executive who managed all the Sam’s Clubs on Puerto Rico before assuming her present role. “They’re looking for new things to do. They’re looking for avenues to get their success. They’re looking for avenues for growth. I think that what this situation has brought to the table and has shown them is that we can come out stronger from this situation.”

Another club member, Bryan Colon, tells Beet.TV that the eight months since Hurricane Maria have been “mind blowing.” And while it’s hard for him to envision himself in a few years not being a part of the Boys & Girls Clubs, “They will always be with me in my knowledge, in the way I am, so it’s not like I’m going to lose them forever.

“If I become rich, you never know, I can make investments like a lot of people are doing. Helping them in the same way they helped me, and help them help some other people. That’s a lot of helps.”