By Belkis Schoenhals
Note: Belkis Schoenhals was one of 10 National Church Residences team members who went to Puerto Rico with Volunteers of America to help the seniors there.
Our last day in Puerto Rico was one of reflection. Although we had seen a lot of damage and people in need over the week, we also reminded ourselves that we saw a lot of beauty. I think that we tend to focus on the damage and destruction in the wake of a disaster, but Puerto Rico is nothing short of a safe, beautiful, and friendly place to visit. We were able to spend the morning walking through old San Juan and were reminded that every situation is multifaceted. It is beauty alongside destruction and need alongside resiliency.
While walking in old San Juan, we had the privilege of running into the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Julin Cruz. We were able to speak with her about our mission in Puerto Rico and exchange information with her staff to remain in contact about how we can continue to serve. In the afternoon, I visited with my aunt and cousin who live in San Juan. They got electricity only two days ago, but are doing well. The rest of the team visited with Illia’s family and delivered the last of our supplies to a family in need.
Overall, I feel blessed to have been a part of Mission Esperanza. As a team in 5 days time, we visited with over 300 seniors across 5 apartment communities in 4 cities. We sorted and made 600 bags of supplies for seniors totaling more than 300 pounds of supplies. We all feel truly grateful for this experience and honored to serve on behalf of National Church Residences.