On January 23rd and 24th, 2018, 16 delegates from the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation visited the CRECE and PROTECT teams in Puerto Rico with purposes of promoting humanitarian aid. The delegation was composed of corporate representation from companies such as IBM, Southwest Airlines, UPS, and Abbott, among others. During this gathering, Dr. José Cordero, CRECE and PROTECT Co-Director, and Dr. Carmen M. Velez-Vega, CRECE Community Outreach and Translation Core and PROTECT Community Engagement Core Co-Leader, led a series of activities to demonstrate to the delegates that collaborators in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) could greatly benefit from support the Foundation could provide. As a part of the visit, Dr. Velez Vega also accompanied the delegation to see FQHCs and other communities in need in Puerto Rico.
The meeting was co-planned in the weeks leading up to the visit by Dr. Velez-Vega and Pamela Wilson, a consultant for the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Velez-Vega and Wilson identified ideal sites for the delegation to visit and people to speak with in order to support community health in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of natural disasters like Hurricane Maria.
To aid in the planning, on December 29th, Dr. Velez-Vega and Pamela Wilson joined Emma Fernandez and Deborah Juarbe, team leaders for the University of Puerto Rico Research Center for Minority Institutions (UPR RCMI), for a community workshop in Toa Baja that was severely affected by Hurricane Maria. There, PROTECT trainee Hector Torres led a seminar on the use of mosquito nets and on strategies to prevent infections from mosquito borne illness. Close to 40 families were provided with mosquito nets and insect repellent thanks to this joint effort by CRECE, PROTECT, and the UPR RCMI. In addition to aiding the community, the event also offered a great opportunity for members of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation to observe the detrimental living conditions that communities in Puerto Rico are still facing in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, hopefully strengthening their resolve to offer support to those in need of aid on the island.