Nothing passes us by without impact. Nothing is ever fully behind us. Nothing exists only in our past. That is true of some moments or happenings or days more than others — like September 20, 2017 when Hurricane Maria made landfall and devastated Puerto Rico from east to west. As we rallied/rally together to ensure Puerto Rico Se Levanta — that the island will continue to rise physically, socially, economically, politically, spiritually, in all ways — we recognize, remember and honor the unprecedented, tragic, debilitating loss that occurred two years ago today, while also identifying, cultivating and championing immediate and ongoing sources of hope, inspiration and resolve. The strength, power and resiliency of diverse Boricua individuals and collectives from every walk of life imaginable have taught me invaluable lessons about life, joy, community, values, service, everything — through meaningful, in-depth, purposeful shared experience and collective action on the ground. I would never dare express any semblance of gratitude for a natural disaster that took the lives of thousands, shattered families, destroyed livelihoods, leveled towns, brought society to a standstill, and still wreaks havoc today, but I do feel eternally blessed to have been welcomed in the wake of the storm, joined forces with countless selfless individuals, forged family bonds that will only grow over a lifetime and served tirelessly together with lasting positive impacts, the depths, reaches and ripple effects of which we may never even know. I will forever stand with the rare and beautiful souls who show up, shut up, innovate, execute and do the work that needs to be done — in our case, to feed an island ingredient by ingredient, plate by plate, kitchen by kitchen, community by community. Mi amado Puerto Rico, what began as a four day trip to help newly established World Central Kitchen operations became three weeks at the request of Chef José Andrés, then nine months of leading #ChefsForPuertoRico emergency response and proudly coming to call la isla home. I thought I would be standing humbly on Borinquen lands today, but the universe had other plans with my accident, though I have full faith I will be back very soon. Ya tu sabes.
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