NEW YORK (September 14, 2018) – In advance of the one-year anniversary of hurricanes Irma and Maria making landfall in Puerto Rico, UNICEF USA and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico (BGCPR) are proud to celebrate the opening of the first of 13 kitchens and community gardens around the island. These facilities will support 1,700 children per day per program year. Shortly after the storms hit, UNICEF USA and BGCPR partnered to rebuild and enhance kitchens and vital nutrition services that were interrupted because of the disasters. The opening last week marked a hopeful new chapter for the island’s children and for the communities served by BGCPR.
The kitchens and gardens are part of UNICEF USA’s holistic response effort following the disasters. The organization has provided psycho-social support – including evidence-based, trauma-informed learning and mindfulness instruction – to nearly 40 BCGPR staff and 60 personnel from other partners across Puerto Rico. In the storm’s immediate aftermath, four BGCPR club houses served as distribution centers for supplies delivered by UNICEF USA in conjunction with UPS and the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort.
“After hurricanes Irma and Maria plowed through Puerto Rico, most of the island was left without power, and access to clean water and food became limited for most, especially for our children,” said Olga Ramos Carrasquillo, President of Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico (BGCPR). “Thanks to the support of UNICEF USA we were able to establish a food program, enabling our kids and youth to receive a daily hot and nutritionally balanced meal that for most represents their last meal of the day. At the present we have impacted more than 78,000 participants and their families in our 13 Clubs with daily hot meals. Our participants are also excited with the vegetable garden that is part of the alliance, and we are thankful that it will contribute to the sustainability of the program itself and our willingness to provide food for our kids and youth as an essential part of their education and well-being”, concluded Ramos Carrasquillo.
“UNICEF supports recovery efforts following natural disasters around the world, and we know that children are the most vulnerable group in any emergency,” said Caryl Stern, President and CEO of UNICEF USA. “We were proud to support Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico following these devastating storms, as part of our larger response efforts. We’re even prouder to see the impact we’ve made to-date, and we know that it will also translate into longer-term sustainability for the organization and its vital community programs. While we’re marking a somber anniversary soon, we’re also celebrating the incredible resiliency of Puerto Rico’s children and families.”
The BGCPR partnership supports two of UNICEF’s global goals following natural disasters, the first being the need for proper nutrition for children to support growth and development. The partnership also underlines the vital need for safe spaces for kids to be kids with room to play, offering a return to normalcy after trauma.
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The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. UNICEF USA supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico
Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico is a nonprofit organization, and a leader in after-school programs and services for children between the ages of 6 and 18. Now celebrating our 50th anniversary, we offer a safe and creative place where children develop into leaders who achieve their academic, personal and professional goals. Our innovation programs focus on career development and entrepreneurship. We provide the tools needed to be competitive on a global economy and to obtain a worthy job that allows economic security. Last year we served more than 16,000 children, youth and families, and we employ more than 300 professionals in the Island. We have thirteen clubs, located at the Ernesto Ramos Antonini Housing Complex in Río Piedras, Las Margaritas Housing Complex and Luis Lloréns Torres Housing Complex in Santurce, Franklyn D. Roosevelt Housing Complex in Mayagüez, San Lorenzo, Villa Carolina and the Torres de Sabana Housing Complex in Carolina, Arecibo, Aguas Buenas, Bayamón, Loíza, Vieques and Isabela. For more information visit www.facebook.com/bgcpr or call 787-728-4040.