The Puerto Rico Relief Fund of South Central
A Catastrophic Disaster
Joe Maldonado (l-r), Jessica Cavazos, president of the Latino Chamber of
Commerce, UNIDOS Board Chair Charlyn Cruz-Nuñez and Veronica Figueroa,
executive director of UNIDOS at a press conference held September 29
announcing the formation of the Puerto Rico Relief Fund.
know we don’t know about the rest of our families. And it is terrifying for us to wake up every day and not know if they are alive or not.”

The people of Puerto Rico, U.S. citizens, are in need of support. Members of the 5,000 strong Puerto Rican community living in South Central Wisconsin have come together to form the
Puerto Rico Relief Fund of South Central Wisconsin to supplement federal and other relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

“The people of Puerto Rico are facing a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic proportions,” said Veronica Figueroa-Vález, a spokesperson for the relief fund. “Our purpose is to organize
and coordinate work in South Central Wisconsin aiming to provide disaster recovery assistance to Puerto Rico. In addition, it seeks to inform residents, community leaders,
businesses and other organizations on the best ways to help our people, the people of Puerto Rico, recover from this disaster. This charge is also to identify the appropriate and
respective channels for the delivery of disaster relief assistance.”

As people with contacts, family and friends in Puerto Rico, members of the fund will use their knowledge of Puerto Rico to ensure that the funds collected are used efficiently and
effectively in disaster relief.

“Collectively, we will ensure that the funds collected through the Puerto Rican Relief Fund are delivered to the most impacted communities in Puerto Rico,” Figueroa-Vález said. “Over
the weeks, as communication systems are restored on the island, our team will identify credible organizations doing the ground work to deliver these funds. I urge you to support the
people of Puerto Rico by donating to this fund. Every dollar counts. The people of Puerto Rico need all of us, all of us, to recover from this disaster.”

The group will eventually be collecting goods to be shipped to Puerto Rico when the communications and transportation infrastructure will support such deliveries.

“Once the authorities in Puerto Rico are ready to receive donated goods, we will collect them and have partners in the community ready to distribute,” said Joe Maldonado, andother
fund spokesperson. “The items will be transported and stored at a location facility, both provided at no charge. The following items would be most helpful initially when we are able to:
batteries – B, C, AA and AAA; electric generators and flashlights. We will continue to monitor communications from Puerto Rico and inform our community of the need for additional
items. Donated items will be transported to Chicago for delivery and distribution on the island. The Puerto Rican Relief Fund will work hard to not duplicate the efforts of organizations
that have already established a reliable system to deliver donated goods to the island.”

There are two ways that people can donate.

“The most urgent need at this moment is financial,” Maldonado emphasized. “Please go to and follow the link on the page to donate to the Puerto Rico Relief Fund
of South Central Wisconsin. If you would prefer to write a check, please make it payable to UNIDOS and write Puerto Rico Relief Fund on the memo line and mail it to 2875 Fish
Hatchery Road, Fitchburg, WI 53713. All donations are tax deductible.”

It is also important that Madison area residents contact their federal representatives to urge them to ensure that Puerto Rico receives the same level of federal disaster aid that
Florida and Texas have received.

The committee reminded those gathered that the recovery will take a long time.

“This is a process that will take months and years,” Maldonado said. “We have not yet seen its full impact. We don’t know what the damage is ultimately going to be fiscally and to the
infrastructure. As time passes and we assess the damage and we understand what it is that we need to do, we are going to need the support of every person and every skill set that
we can manage. There are going to be construction needs. There are going to be food needs. There are going to be educational needs. There are going to be organizational needs. As a
committee, we are determined to be able to assess those needs, to be able to work with those who best know how to fill those needs and on how to have the biggest impact on the

Puerto Rico and its people have made important contributions to the United States and so, Puerto Rico needs the support the United States today. Lives depend on it.

For more information about the Puerto Rico Relief Fund and to get on its mailing list, contact Veronica Figueroa-Vález at or 608-334-0224.
By Jonathan Gramling

Puerto Rico is a beautiful is land filled with people, culture and an economy that have evolved over
centuries. And then Hurricane Maria savaged the island leaving it without an electrical grid and most
communications, destroying buildings and devastating over 80 percent of its agricultural base. What
took centuries to build took Maria a day or so to destroy.

The reverberations of the aftermath have been felt throughout the Puerto Rican Diaspora, including

“Our loved ones are not well,” emphasized Glorily López, an attorney with Murphy Desmond who
spoke at a press conference at the Latino Chamber of Commerce on September 29th. “There is a lot of
widespread devastation throughout the island. I can speak for myself in terms of my mother is here.
The rest of my family except my brother who lives in Miami is in Puerto Rico. It was extremely and still
very difficult to not know about family members. We only heard yesterday about one of my uncles who
was a veteran who fought in the Vietnam War. Most of my uncles have honorably served in the U.S.
military. They have seen disaster relief efforts because they have worked on them. And they cannot
imagine why the relief is not coming because they have delivered those services themselves as
members of the U.S. military. And they are not receiving the help that they need. Right now, we don’t