During last month’s school break, 25 teens and parents from J-Teen Leadership, a program of UJA-Federation of NY, traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to provide much-needed disaster relief to areas ravaged by the hurricanes that hit in September 2017.
Realizing the tremendous needs that still exist in the area, J-Teen Leadership conceived of several projects that would help the residents of San Juan. The teens held a philanthropy drive and collected close to $600 in donations and $3,100 in gift cards that they delivered to those in need. They also participated in multiple service projects, touching the lives of over 3,000 people.
They brought 1,500 pounds of supplies with them, including medical supplies obtained through the Afya Foundation and sports supplies donated by the Temple Shaaray Tefila social action program, as well as painting and cleaning supplies.
As part of the J-Teen Leadership UJA-Federation MLK Day of Service, almost 500 handmade cards were made and delivered to children at the Boys and Girls Club of Puerto Rico.
While on the island, participants had the opportunity to learn about the Jewish community of the area when they visited Temple Beth Shalom in San Juan. Temple Beth Shalom was established in 1967 by a group of English-speaking families and individuals who wanted to have a spiritual center where they could gather to observe Shabbat and Jewish holidays, and to pray and learn in English in the midst of a Spanish-speaking culture. The congregation identifies as a “diverse, multigenerational, inclusive community with an emphasis on social justice, education and dynamic experiences in Judaism.”
For more information about UJA-Federation of New York, its programs and its philanthropic work, please visit www.ujafedny.org.
By Yvette Finkelstein