BOSTON – Today, Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Representative Jeffrey Sánchez and members of the Boston Foundation announced the Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico Fund to support and respond to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricanes Maria and Irma. The fund has been formed in partnership with the Latino Legacy fund and in cooperation with the Alliance for Puerto Rico. Funds raised will be distributed for reconstruction and relief on the island of Puerto Rico and to support self-evacuees arriving in Massachusetts from Puerto Rico for temporary or permanent residence.
“Our hearts break for the people of Puerto Rico and their Massachusetts-based families and friends, whose lives were turned upside down by the devastation of these merciless hurricanes,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “As the proud home of one of the largest groups of Puerto Rican American communities in the country, the Commonwealth is pleased to join the City of Boston and the Boston Foundation to create the ‘Massachusetts Puerto Rico Fund.’ We stand ready to extend heartfelt welcomes to disaster survivors who seek temporary or permanent residence in Massachusetts and will provide any and all personnel and equipment requested throughout the recovery process. Lieutenant Governor Polito and I encourage all in Massachusetts to join us in supporting Governor Rosselló and our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico throughout this incredibly challenging time.”
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Puerto Rican people, those who live here and those who are on the island, as they recover from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Maria,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said. “We have been in close communication with officials from Puerto Rico and, with such a strong Puerto Rican community here in Boston, they know we are here to help, for as long as they need.”
This fund will be advised by an Advisory Committee of 10-12 experts from the Massachusetts Puerto Rican diaspora community, with Vanessa Calderon-Rosado serving as the Chairwoman and Representative Jeffrey Sánchez serving as the honorary Vice Chairman. Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh will serve as honorary co-chairs to encourage all in Massachusetts to support this effort and Aixa Beauchamp and Juan Carlos Morales will serve on the executive committee.
“The apocalypse hit Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico’s people are crying for help,” said Representative Jeffrey Sánchez. “The Puerto Rican community of our Commonwealth of Massachusetts is rallying with Gov. Baker and Mayor Walsh and myself in a unified guarantee that the community’s vision becomes a reality. That vision is to assure that we rally together to make an impact with those organizations and individuals that are making a difference on the ground in helping the people of Puerto Rico. Together, we can make a lasting impact in the lives of Puerto Rican families from our Commonwealth to our sister Commonwealth in the Caribbean.”
Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico Fund will work to collect donations from foundations, corporations and individual donors, and quickly direct funds to effective resettlement, recovery and relief organizations supporting the people of Puerto Rico impacted by these devastating hurricanes. Initial gifts will be used as challenge grants to the community for a wide-ranging fundraising appeal and up to one third of funds raised will be immediately distributed. The remainder of the fund will be deployed through 2018, for reconstruction and economic recovery projects on the island of Puerto Rico and to support resettlement efforts in Massachusetts.
Additionally, the Baker-Polito Administration yesterday announced the formation of a task force that will ensure that the state is prepared to support the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico for individuals who chose to self-evacuate the island and seek temporary or permanent residence in Massachusetts. State officials remain in communication with the Government of Puerto Rico and federal authorities and are ready and willing to offer emergency assistance, such as personnel and equipment, at the request of Puerto Rico.