‘This is cool stuff’
When a hurricane called Maria knocks your homeland to its knees, strips the shade from the trees, and leaves the land devastated, destitute and down, what do you do? If you’re a Lehigh Valley Puerto Rican, you get busy.
On Nov. 5 at ArtsQuest SteelStacks in Bethlehem, area Hispanics – Puerto Ricans and their simpatico brothers and sisters, the Dominicans, joined hands with other Lehigh Valley residents and raised money to help the families back home.
They organized a free concert featuring live music by several popular Latin groups, including Grupo en Secuencia, Lehigh Valley Urban Orquestra, Orquestra Xariz and other music presented by DJ Baby J & Star.
Bethlehem Councilwoman Olga Negrón and the KGSK Law firm, Bethlehem realtors Sam Del Rosario and Justino Arroyo, and Allentown Police Detective Luiz D. Garcia reserved the Levitt Pavilion for the show.
Negrón said mayors Bob Donchez, Ed Pawlowski of Allentown, Jose Rosado of Fountain Hill and Easton City Administrator Luis Campos, representing Easton Mayor Sal Pantos, attended the musical fund raiser.
Allentown Councilman Julio Guridy, Bethlehem Councilman Michael G. Colón, Allentown Councilwoman Cynthia Moto and Shawn Martel participated in the fundraiser as did Easton Councilman Peter Melan.
According to Negrón, $9,000 was raised, which was channeled through Concilio which, in turn, will disburse the money to people in need in Puerto Rico.
The organizers pledged that 100 percent of the money raised will go to the Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief fund.
Regional leadership from Pa. Department of State’s Director of Special Projects Norman Bristol Colón also contributed to the success of the event.
Some local churches also participated in raising funds for the victims of Maria. Negron said in a recent interview that among the churches helping were Iglesia Vertical and Holy Infancy.
The Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley, located in South Bethlehem, is also accepting monetary donations and items needed by families who are relocating to the Lehigh Valley from Puerto Rico. They ask for nonperishable food, and clothing needed for fall and winter. Among the items are coats, hats, scarves, gloves, bed sheets, blankets, pillows and towels.
The local impact of Hurricane Maria has already been felt. According to Linda Lopez, secretary for ESL education at the Bethlehem Area School District, 96 children have come from Puerto Rico to BASD with “four or five arriving every day.”
To help meet the housing needs of incoming residents, Negron said Bethlehem will need to change the time limit that residents are allowed to keep guests in private homes. The current limit is 14 days.
She said, “This is cool stuff …“, referring to the way that the community has come together to help. She cited the cooperation of leaders from governments, different political parties, different religions, and different Hispanic communities.
All checks should be made payable to ESTAMOS LISTO and mailed to or dropped off at the Community Action Committee, 1337 E. Fifth St., Bethlehem, PA 18105. Community Action Committee Lehigh Valley (CACLV) is a 501 C (3) public charity, so all donations are tax deductible.