Aid to Puerto Rico: It was imperative for me to go back

April 27, 2018By Acts of Kindness, Aid for Puerto Rico, Behind the Shelf Blog

by Nelson Rodriguez, merchandising analyst, for the Puerto Rico blog series

Being from Puerto Rico, I still have relatives who reside on the island—many of whom I was unable to reach when hurricanes Irma then Maria initially occurred. Even once I learned they were safe, I was still very worried. That is why it was important for me to travel back to see just how much destruction was caused. It was imperative for me to go back and help in any way I could.

I felt especially emotional during our time on the island. While giving out food to the residents of Guayanilla, I saw old friends and former classmates coming to the distribution center in need of supplies. It was also during our time there that the one year anniversary of my grandfather’s death occurred.

One thing that struck me was the type of food we were tasked with dispersing. It was not very substantial in nutritional value and it made me wonder what was initially being given seeing as it’s now been more than 100 days since all this began.

The most rewarding part of my time there was getting to show my co-workers where I’m from, and see them have fun and enjoy themselves. We saw not only the devastation, but also the beauty of the island. Showing people pictures and videos wasn’t enough to convey the seriousness of the situation, and we experienced it firsthand. Yet in contrast, you can still see how great a place it is when it’s not going through such difficulties. I cannot stress enough not to let what’s happened keep you from visiting the island and enjoying all the great culture it has to offer.

My biggest takeaway from our time there was the importance of gratitude. I was reminded that being in the states, I tend to feel removed from what’s going on back home — and ultimately take so many things for granted. Meanwhile the people in the neighborhoods we helped, even in their time of need, were so thankful, shaking our hands and giving us blessings. Knowing that we were able to help them and we did something meaningful will always stay with me.



To learn more about HRG’s time in Puerto Rico, read the rest of the blog series.