CUNY Students to Help Puerto Rico Rebuilding Efforts

CUNY students were part of volunteer groups helping after Hurricane María struck. (Photo courtesy of CUNY, via El Diario)

This Sunday, CUNY students will go to Puerto Rico as the first of four groups to be sent there this summer, part of the initiative “New York Stands with Puerto Rico.” The students will participate in the island’s reconstruction efforts after the devastation caused by Hurricane María in September 2017.

Some of the students have had previous experience giving a hand in disaster zones, but for many, like Gabriella Rivera Lebrón, who moved to New York last year from Puerto Rico because of the hurricanes, this will be their first time participating in the program.

(…) “As a Puerto Rican I am outraged at the dearth of funds on the part of the federal government, but at the same time I feel privileged that CUNY and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have sent help and are giving me the opportunity to be able to help my people recover,” said Rivera Lebrón, who in December will get her law degree at John Jay College.

She is part of the first group of 20 students to be sent to the island. She started hearing about the CUNY initiative as soon as she arrived in New York, after having studied at the Universidad de Puerto Rico’s Carolina campus. “I didn’t think twice and I signed up immediately as soon as I knew about it. For two weeks we will be in Yabucoa and Orocovis, and we will be followed by another group that will continue the reconstruction effort. I still have half of my family living there, and while they have found some measure of stability, other areas still have problems,” said Lebrón, who stressed the resilience of Puerto Ricans in the face of tragedy.

Each participant received a training session on Tuesday to know about the program and the areas to which they will be sent. A total of 225 students will travel to Puerto Rico.

(…) Last year, 194 CUNY students went to Puerto Rico and participated in the reconstruction of 174 homes, part of Gov. Cuomo’s “New York Stands with Puerto Rico” initiative.

“CUNY keeps its commitment to Puerto Rico and its residents, who are still fighting to overcome the disaster caused by Hurricane María in September 2017. They will go where they are needed the most, and they will reflect on their experiences upon their return (…),” said CUNY chancellor Félix V. Matos, who participated in the training session.

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