Project Coqui Summer Story

Relief efforts continue following on from the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Maria. In this article, Melvin Cordova details how his initiative, and others, have taken off.
By Melvin Cordova, Project Coqui Lead
Es un gran placer para mi el poder describir el progreso de nuestro Projecto Coqui”.

We are celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, and it seemed imperative to write at least one sentence in Spanish!

It is a great pleasure to provide an update on Project Coqui, a year after HurricaneMaria. We started the project because doing ‘nothing’ was not an option!

The magnitude and destruction brought about by Hurricane Maria presented a unique opportunity to innovate. We at the project are still going strong, and there is much to be done. We have the support of many families, friends, and organizations, such as People-Centered Internet (PCI), the Federal Government Faith-Based Program Managers, and Carahsoft.

In addition, in our quest to build capacity, our efforts led to the establishment of Coqui Building Systems, a new construction company that seeks to facilitate home ownership.

During the last three-months, I visited Puerto Rico four times. So far, I have visited twelve times and spent more than one hundred and twenty days volunteering and lending a hand at ground level. It is important to note that some of the action took place in Washington DC. For example, last Sunday I was interviewed by emerald-planet, on my work supporting Puerto Rico.

A significant story this summer was a one-week visit to Singapore by a delegation from Puerto Rico (PR). This is a Not-for-Profit called Echar Pa’Lante which means “moving forward”, and comprised of academia, industry and government representatives, and sponsored by Banco Popular.

Ms. Mei Lin Fung Co-Founder of PCI, dedicated significant effort to co-ordinate this high-impact visit,  and the team really appreciated the lessons learned from Singapore – they are now  co-ordinating and implementing a way forward in PR.

I am really humbled at the strong level of support that we have received from the Federal Government Faith-Based Initiatives Program Managers in PR. On May the 18th, 2018, the

President signed a new Executive Order – encouraging  greater participation at community level, in alignment with our efforts.

The first paragraph of the Executive Order reads as follows:

“Policy. Faith-based and community organizations have tremendous ability to serve individuals, families, and communities through means that are different from those of government and with capacity that often exceeds that of government.

These organizations lift people up, keep families strong, and solve problems at the local level. The executive branch wants faith-based and community organizations, to the fullest opportunity permitted by law, to compete on a level playing field for grants, contracts, programs, and other Federal funding opportunities.

 The efforts of faith-based and community organizations are essential to revitalizing communities, and the Federal Government welcomes opportunities to partner with such organizations through innovative, measurable, and outcome-driven initiatives.”

Wonderful words. Let’s make sure they become a reality for those hardest hit.

A full version of this article can be found here.

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