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​National​ LGBTQ Organizations Join Waves Ahead to Rebuild Puerto Rico

April 2, 2018

Organizations Sending Volunteers for Community Action in May

WASHINGTON, D.C./SAN JUAN, PR.—A record number of organizations supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people announced today that they are taking part in a joint effort to help with Puerto Rico recovery by sending volunteers and resources to the island.

“We are excited about this possibility of receiving colleagues from the LGBTQ and Latino Diaspora to help us rebuild. The people of Puerto Rico—and especially those in the marginalized LGBTQ community—are in dire need of support,” said Wilfred Labiosa, co-founder of Puerto Rico-based Waves Ahead, an organization founded to unite Puerto Rico’s LGBTQ community in rebuilding following Hurricane Irma. “After six months, help is still needed—including through financial contributions, which Waves Ahead can utilize in the rebuild.”

The project has been spearheaded by staff from Advocates for Youth and PFLAG National in partnership with Waves Ahead. As plans developed, more organizations including CenterLink, SAGE, and Intersections International, and media outlets such as The Washington Blade committed to participation.

Among those devastated by the storm—although frequently not covered in mainstream news—have been the LGBTQ residents of the island. In the storm’s aftermath, providing critical services to rebuild lives and businesses, offering healthcare, and connecting the LGBTQ community has begun, but there remains a lack of adequate resources and visibility.

From May 13th through June 3rd, volunteers from LGBTQ and ally organizations will travel to Puerto Rico to provide hands-on support to the rebuilding work happening on the island. They hope that the time and energy—paired with official support and visibility from the nation’s largest LGBTQ organizations—can focus much-needed attention and resources to the LGBTQ community there.

“Six months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico, hundreds of thousands of people still do not have power, water, secure homes, and food,” said Aimee Thorne-Thomsen, Vice President for Strategic Partnerships for Advocates for Youth. “And LGBTQ Puerto Ricans are facing even greater hurdles. Advocates for Youth is proud to work alongside our allies to help LGBTQ Puerto Ricans rebuild their homes and their lives.”

“PFLAG National supports this effort because this rebuild is about our families, our loved ones, and our allies. By putting volunteers on the ground in Puerto Rico and through continued work to bring attention to this project, we hope to demonstrate that our commitment to building strong families is happening everywhere—including in places that too often have been forgotten and in communities that have been marginalized,” said Jean-Marie Navetta, PFLAG National’s Director of Learning and Inclusion.

“The reconstruction initiative is such an important next step in the recovery process for the LGBT community in Puerto Rico! We have seen immense generosity within the LGBT community to support our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, and this is another opportunity to help,” said Lora Tucker, CEO of CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers. “The message that this process is a long-term effort cannot be stressed enough. We’re proud to be a partner with Waves Ahead on this initiative and look forward to working together.”

For those interested in participating in the project visit facebook.com/wavesahead. To make contributions, donate online at http://secure.actblue.com/donate/wavesaheadmaria, via PayPal to Wavesaheadcorp@gmail.com, via direct bank transfer to routing #: 021502011, account #: 396056407 at Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, or by sending a check to Waves Ahead Corp, PO Box 181, Saint Just, PR 00978.

Waves Ahead supports marginalized and vulnerable communities to strengthen and restore all areas of need. Learn more at facebook.com/wavesahead


About PFLAG National

PFLAG is the first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people, their parents and families, and allies. With over 400 chapters and nearly 250,000 members and supporters crossing multiple generations of families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas across America, PFLAG is committed to creating a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected, valued, and affirmed. To learn more, visit pflagchapters.wpenginepowered.com, like us on Facebook (/pflag), watch us on YouTube (/pflag), or follow us on Twitter (@pflag) or Instagram (@pflag).

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Laura McGinnis

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