The NYU Gallatin Americas Scholars is a group of NYU students interested in matters related to the Americas — understood broadly to include the U.S., other parts of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. In January, we traveled to Puerto Rico to explore the relationship between Puerto Rico and the U.S., as well as more specifically the Puerto Rican community in New York. We hope to share our experiences with the larger New York community in an effort to foster new cultural connections between the two communities.
We were really inspired by the community activism and grassroots organizing we saw in Vieques, an island-municipality about eight miles east of the Puerto Rican mainland. The island has a population of just over 9,000 people, and was used as a bombing range and testing ground by the U.S. Navy for around 60 years until their departure in 2003. Viequenses' health and environment continue to be affected by the waste left behind bu the navy bombings. For more information, see http://www.vieques-island.com/navy/.
Reach for Success is a community group in Vieques whose aim is to serve the community's young people. Carmen Portela Weir began the organization in 2006 using her own finances and limited donations, and today the group serves 40 members. RFS provides scholarships and financial support for students and leads workshops to teach leadership development, interviewing skills, computer training, health education, drug and alcohol prevention, photography, art therapy, cooking, swimming, soccer, dance, and drama. The group has taken members on educational trips to the mainland, has organized community service events in Vieques, and helps to network former members with job opportunities. Learn more about RFS at http://reachforsuccess.org/reach/HOME.html.
We got in touch with Reach for Success and received a list of some basic necessities that the group could use. Your donation will help RFS get closer to their goals of purchasing the following:
- A new and larger meeting space
- 50 stacking chairs
- 2 collapsable tables
- A Large Marker Board
- Ink and paper for printer
- A camera
- A computer technician
- A web site designer /technician
- A psychologist
- An English teacher
- An art teacher and materials
Every dollar you contribute makes a difference in the lives of Vieques' youth. Please help RFS out with whatever you can afford to give, and please share this page with your friends! Thanks so much for your generosity.