‘Stronger than a hurricane': Puerto Rican relief effort scheduled Friday, Saturday in Waukegan – Chicago Tribune
Members of the Puerto Rican Society of Waukegan were busy Thursday preparing large amounts of food and finalizing plans for a major hurricane relief effort to be held at their Sheridan Road headquarters Friday and Saturday.
The fundraising event will run from noon to 9 p.m. each day and include $10 traditional Puerto Rican meals, DJ music, dancing and a cash bar.
The need is great, but leaders of the Puerto Rican Society said they are confident the local community has mobilized and will support the benefit with a large turnout.
“We see the news and we know that on our island, there are so many suffering, especially the poor,” said Lucy Rios, president of the Puerto Rican Society of Waukegan. “Many of us on the mainland have not heard from our loved ones.”
But Rios and others preparing Thursday for the event were upbeat about the effect their efforts will have for the victims dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20.
“We are Puerto Ricans, and united we are a force stronger than a hurricane that will restore our beautiful island,” Rios said.
Puerto Rican native Miguel Rivera, a society member and bingo chairman for the group, said the footage of destruction in Puerto Rico was hard to watch.
“It’s rough. We thought we were going to lose our island, ” Rivera said.
Rivera said his brother and sister live in Puerto Rico, but have been in touch and are well.
“They lost a lot of things, but as long as they are OK, that’s what we care about,” he said.
Victor Montano of Gurnee, also a native of Puerto Rico, said the society has received calls from around the county and Kenosha from people wanting to help.
“We do hope the people turn out. We’re expecting a big turnout,” said Montano, who chair’s the society’s scholarship committee.
Montano said he was in Puerto Rico last year with family members.
“It’s sad to see the areas we visited were just devastated,” he said. “But we do plan on going back.”
Hurricane Maria was a Category 4 hurricane, one of the worst to hit Puerto Rico in decades. More than 3 miillion people have been left without power, and the majority of the island’s cell towers are still out of service.
The Puerto Rican Society of Waukegan has been in existence since 1957, starting out in a member’s garage. In the mid-1960s, the group obtained its current Sheridan Road headquarters from the USO.
Members are primarily from the local area, but also Wisconsin, Florida, Chicago and Puerto Rico itself.
“It is so important for us to unite and help, especially the elderly. The world is not seeing the desperate need for the urgent humanitarian relief in Puerto Rico,” society member Brenda Harris said. “We hope the community will come out, buy some food and help us provide the much needed relief for Puerto Rico.”
Among the features at the event will be homemade authentic Puerto Rican meals, including a choice of fried chicken, pork chop or steak. Meals include salads and sides, such as rice with peas, beans and white rice.
Society members said Thursday that the group is accepting clothes and other essentials for Puerto Rico, but that cash and check donations will provide the most immediate relief and, with a special bank account set up, all of the proceeds will go directly to the hurricane relief effort.
For those who wish to donate to the effort but cannot attend, an account has been set up at Norstates Bank, with account number 6057103. Tax-deductible donations can be made at all bank branches, or checks may be mailed to the Puerto Rican Society, P.O. Box 526, Waukegan, Il., 60079.