The day after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico was the moment I felt the most helpless as a Puerto Rican and as a teacher. I told my wife, "I’m not a carpenter, an electrician or a plumber. What can I do for the island ?” Like a lightning bolt it hit me, "I’m a teacher!" Immediately, I told my wife let’s sell our home, here in Jersey City and move to the island with our four children to help with the recovery! “I can teach and you can provide counseling for families with your MSW!” She told me without batting an eye, “That’s a great idea but at this moment we would only be a burden to the island. We would be better suited to organize here and send money in the meantime. But let's make a plan to go this summer as a missions trip." The next day, speaking to my wife’s cousin Wanda, she told me her plans of going to the island in the summer to tutor in the area where her mom lives, in Cayey. It was as if God spoke to my spirit and confirmed what I told my wife the day before. As teachers, we have summers off and the island is in need of professionals to assist in their recovery efforts. The idea was born to have a coalition of teachers, social workers/school counselors and administrators that would assist Puerto Rico in its educational system recovery efforts.
I immediately thought about people I have worked with in the past and present who were not only excellent educators but men who had a love for education, a passion for people and were proven leaders. Men who happened to be born in Puerto Rico or men who had Puerto Rico born in them. As I spoke with each of them, three days after the hurricane battered our island, their enthusiasm for the project was evident. Then, on October 2 ,without hesitation, Francisco Velez, Jr., Renes Cruz, William Diaz II, Osvaldo Matos, Julio Boria and myself met for the first time to discuss the idea of creating this unique organization that would assist our island in the recovery process. Lest we forget, Rafael Soberal, Executive Creative Director at RICG, was an integral partner in the incipient stages of Project PIEDRA and we are forever grateful for his contributions as a Co-founder.
The commitment level and passion for Project PIEDRA displayed by these brothers is incomparable. We are committed to assisting our beloved island and its people through the field of education. Puerto Rico se levanta!