JCI national and local members create sustainable change through immediate local action and lasting partnerships.
The young active citizens of JCI Puerto Rico came together to help the residents of a struggling community. Punta Santiago, a coastal neighborhood in Humacao, Puerto Rico, is in great need of better healthcare, as well as economic and educational development. A large number of young people have dropped out of school and many elderly citizens lack quality health services. JCI Humacao and JCI Puerto Rico began to combat these issues in Punta Santiago.
After identifying the community’s needs, JCI members met with local community service organizations to establish goals for the project. Stakeholders included local healthcare services, local colleges, government organizations and the local media, to whom JCI members presented their ideas and discussed the current state of the community. To help volunteers expand their impact to even more individuals, JCI members partnered with PECES, an organization providing students ages 15 to 21 the opportunity to graduate from high school.
JCI Puerto Rico and JCI Humacao, with the help of these new local partners, held a two-day service fair for the people of Punta Santiago. More than 150 citizens received medical services for cholesterol, diabetes, weight control and dental needs. Volunteers from a local community center also gave special care to bedridden elderly patients.
On the second day of the fair, more than 100 people representing all sectors of the community, including students from PECES, cleaned the nearby beach and planted trees together. Participating in this event, empowered local volunteers to take responsibility for the well being of their community by identifying the needs in their own backyard and acting on them.
Sustaining the Change
While helping the environment, this beach cleanup project introduced the students of PECES to community members and partners. The cleanup served as the first step of a larger idea to create an array of activities for the PECES students. Because they struggle with completing their education, JCI Humacao’s goal is to keep them involved in positive activities in their community while also focusing on their education.
JCI members plan to mentor these students about the importance of education and leadership. Once on the path toward finishing high school and heading to college, these students will become mentors to their younger peers about the importance of staying in school. JCI members also plan to help the PECES students develop small business projects in fields such as gardening and agriculture, craft and art retail services and tourism. This real-life experience puts students’ skills into action while enhancing local economic development.
JCI Puerto Rico members were pleased with the outcome of their first steps of the project. Following the JCI Active Citizen Framework from the start allowed them to take concrete action to help Punta Santiago while also looking to the future to make sure their work has a lasting positive effect. Involving local volunteers and partners is key to ensuring assistance in the community continues after the initial project is completed. This also allows the JCI network to expand as more young people join the global movement for positive change.
Thank you to 2012 JCI Puerto Rico National President Félix Vega and 2012 JCI Vice President for the Americas Michael Rivera for providing information for this article.
For more information on how JCI members are improving their communities with action and sustainable solutions, visit the JCI Project Gallery.