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  • erinschrode

New Beginnings For Don Jose

A changed home, a changed man, a changed spirit. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about discovering Don Jose’s inhumane living conditions while delivering #ChefsForPuertoRico food in Toa Baja — an elderly man living under a blue tarp with nothing but a broom, extension cord, and pair of pants with a rusty lawn chair to hold it from flying away. Everything inside the humble home his mother left him was mildewed and corroded, including his small mattress, single chair, few clothes; he heated up food in a charred pot atop old charcoal in a hubcap; the home lacked both power and water; the yard was covered in trash, much of which had become embedded in the soil with flooding; the fallen roof and tree limbs remained strewn where Maria left them. No government agencies had come to help, which is a shameful, toxic, inexcusable tragedy.

But we don’t wait, complain or turn a blind eye; we acted decisively together with Don Jose and our incredible community leader Lola to create a safe, healthy, livable home. A few thousand dollars in donations (thanks to the hard work and heart of Brittany and generosity of Mano a Mano ayudando a Puerto Rico) allowed us to hire a local roofer and purchase supplies for a full day of hands-on group volunteering and physical labor, which made a world of difference… and this beautiful soul is now living in a newly-painted yellow house with a properly installed full coverage roof, secure doors, gas stove, new mattress, clean clothes, simple basic furniture, debris-free yard (the amount of waste and insidious plastic trash was unthinkable—that I was determined to unearth and remove properly, albeit painstakingly), walkable paths AND running water and reconnected power PLUS visits from a nurse and a social worker once a week, in addition to meal deliveries!

To see the unbelievable comparison, check my BEFORE post: If you want to continue to help us support, care for and empower him, please please let me know. You can still donate to the volunteers’ gofundme or via my PayPal and all funds will be deployed directly by me for good use. I promise. We will stay the course with Don Jose and others to ensure no American citizen, no human here in Puerto Rico is forgotten, left behind or neglected.

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