by Courtney Teague-Carter, data assets specialist, for the Puerto Rico blog series
The moment I learned of HRG’s plans to travel to Puerto Rico and help rebuild following the hurricanes, it took only a second to decide I wanted to take part in this incredible opportunity. I had promised myself that in 2018 I would take more chances, do things I had never done, and make it a point to see more of the world. This trip offered me the chance to do all that, in addition to serving others in need.
I, unfortunately, have a number of medical difficulties — all of which made each physical activity challenging, yet my anxiety proved to be my biggest hurdle. I had only recently conquered my fear of flying, and this trip would be the longest time I spent in the air. I also have a pretty pronounced fear of heights, yet as part of all my 2018 promises, I went alongside Dawn, Mary, and other volunteers high into the mountains to deliver supplies to those who couldn’t get to the distribution center. Throughout the trip I would say to myself, “feel the fear and do it anyway” — and I cannot stress enough how amazing it felt to do exactly that, all while helping others.
Traveling to the mountains, I was surprised to see just how many people lived in such a beautiful, yet isolated area. As a “bonafide city girl,” those mountains were unlike anything I had ever seen. At the same time I could see and feel the strength and resilience of the residents, which was cathartic and rewarding. There was one woman in particular who I couldn’t help but shed tears for, as she lived in a home that wasn’t easy to get to and told us of how hungry she was. She made me think of my own elderly relatives and how imperative it is that we make caring for them a greater priority.
Upon leaving the island, I was reminded of an old saying I hear in church that is “you’re blessed to be a blessing” — which means when you’ve been given a lot, it’s so that you can give a lot. There is so much need in our world, and this experience showed me I’m not doing enough (with all I’ve been given) to meet that need. In addition, I learned the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone and basking in all the beauty and diversity this big world has to offer.
To learn more about HRG’s time in Puerto Rico, read the rest of the blog series.