Community Engagement Core Members Visit Vega Baja as Part of Post-Hurricane Fiona Support

Nov 7, 2022 | Community Engagement Core, PROTECT Team, PROTECT Trainees

On September 22, Community Engagement Core (CEC) members Nobel Hernández Otero and Chrystal Galán Rivera took part in Hurricane Fiona recovery efforts in a visit to the Sabana community in Vega Baja. The visit was organized by PryMed Medical Care, a health nonprofit located in Vega Baja and Ciales that PROTECT works with regularly.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, many in Puerto Rico were left without power and running water. Checking in on and getting resources to people across the island was an important part of recovery efforts. During the visit to Sabana, Nobel, Chrystal, PryMed Health Educator Ivelisse Colon, Social Worker Melanie Morey, and other volunteers offered support and resources to 209 people. By identifying these individuals and addressing their needs, this trip helped ensure the safety and well-being of community members who were heavily impacted by the hurricane.

Throughout the day, Nobel and Chrystal noted that people were enthusiastic and appreciative of the group checking in on the community, and they made their appreciation known. Although Nobel, Chrystal, and the PryMed group went to Sabana to support residents, they left feeling very supported themselves. Community members gifted the group local produce and offered encouragement, making this trip an even more collaborative experience than was expected.

Work like this contributes to the strong connection PROTECT has with its participants. “This collaborative experience is important because, as a research project, we are engaging with the community and being allowed to learn about the reality and the environment of the people we work with,” Nobel and Chrystal said. This work is also an important way to shape the vision and mission of PROTECT, especially for the CEC. By better understanding participants, CEC researchers and staff can tailor their work and materials to directly complement and improve the everyday lives of Puerto Rican families.

Chrystal and Nobel with PryMed staff and volunteers

Chrystal and Nobel talk with a member of the Sabana community