“These two hurricanes were among the strongest to ever hit Puerto Rico,” said Lucy Van Horn, former activities coordinator for the Glen Cove Senior Center. Her parents came from opposite sides of the territory — her father from Vieques, and her mother, from Cabo Rojo. Much of her family still lives there.
“I have relatives down there, and they’re telling me that out of 10 families, only one has electricity,” Van Horn said. “Major cities are getting their lights back, but huge parts of the countryside are still in the dark.”
She wanted to do something about it. So, she spoke to Carol Waldman, the senior center’s executive director about it. “We jumped on the opportunity to help Lucy,” Waldman said. “We take pride in doing everything we can for people in the community, and in the larger global community.”
The pair found out that Glen Cove Hospital, a part of the Northwell health system, is affiliated with a tiny Puerto Rican health center, really just an emergency room and a small clinic on Culebra, an island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico’s mainland.
The Culebra Community Health Center was devastated by the hurricanes. “They just completely had to close it all down,” Van Horn said. “They’re talking about re-locating the whole thing.” She worries about the people who live on Culebra, who could be forced to seek medical attention elsewhere. “You have to have some medical access,” she added.
The Glen Cove Senior Center is partnering with Northwell on a fundraiser called, “Spread the Love,” which will feature talks from two doctors and a nurse who have all been down to Puerto Rico to help in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Maria.
There will be a salsa band that has donated their talents to the effort, and several restaurants, including Puzo Compare and Cinco de Mayo, will be donating food. There will be a 50/50 raffle, and raffle baskets. “Everything for the event has been donated,” Waldman said, adding, “Everyone working the fundraiser will be a volunteer. Every single penny of what we collect will be going to Culebra.”
Van Horn said that the goal is to raise $5,000, adding, “More would be fantastic. This money will help [the Culebra Health Center] keep it going.”