STUDENTS | March 20, 2018
This spring break a group of CPS students from across the city decided to give back, and help their fellow Americans in Puerto Rico recover from the devastating hurricane that tore through their island six months ago.
Eight students from CICS Northtown Academy, Lincoln Park, Jones College Prep, Noble Prep, Elmwood Park, and Triton College will be traveling to Puerto Rico to support disaster relief efforts from Sunday through March 31.
The group, alongside adult team leaders, will work with the local churches and organizations to help rebuild homes, distribute needed resources and anything else that’s needed. The team will serve the people and communities of San Juan, Carolina, Camuy, and Moca
All are friends who attend Storehouse Church, 5701 N. Montrose.
“I’m Puerto Rican and I felt really saddened by what happened and what little we were doing,” said 15-year-old Kayla Nazario, a Lincoln Park HS sophomore.
Elyan Mendez, who also attends the school, said he’s excited to go and doesn’t see this as missing out on spring break.
“I see it as a great opportunity,” said the 14-year-old freshman. “I feel like it’s a great way to learn and just expand your horizon. I mean Puerto Rico is a beautiful island so that’s just a plus.”
Jones College Prep sophomore, Faith Ramos, said she’s happy knowing that she’s going to help people who are still in need.
Her father, who pastors the church said that 50-60 percent of his congregation has familial ties to Puerto Rico.
The younger Ramos is glad that she and her friends are able to help.
“It feels really good knowing that I’m impacting people who need it,” Faith said. “I’m doing something that’s going to mean a lot and impact a lot of people, so I’m really excited for the outcome and the experience. I think it’s something big and I’m not even sad that I’m spending my spring break there.”
For Nobel senior Jalen Aybar, giving back has always been a part of his character, he said.
This trip is just another example of how he likes to volunteer his time.
“I’ve always gravitated toward doing things for others, whether it was for homeless people or just people in need,” he said.
Pastor Lou Ramos said that the church stepped up to help Puerto Rico immediately after Hurricane Maria destroyed the island. Working with a coalition of churches, his congregation collected supplies and sent them. This time they’re ready to offer their physical presence, he said.
“We couldn’t go out because of flights and logistics so we said, ‘Why don’t we strategize something for the spring break to open those opportunities for our younger people?’”
Sending supplies helps and collectively, they sent over 125-pounds, but he said it sends a different message when they show up ready to lend a hand.
“It would mean to the Puerto Rican families that we didn’t forget,” he said. “Sometimes in the midst of it first happening, everybody is available, but we want to show presence to know that we’re there and we’ll continue to be there.”
They’ll be returning for a second trip in June 30 – July 7. Any other CPS students and teachers who want to join are more than welcome, he said.