Dear Waves Ahead Supporter,
It’s that time of the year when you become inundated with requests for help and support as we approach the end of the year. We here at Waves Ahead are no different in that regard, so let me apologize for bothering you, and reminding you of our update of our current and future work. Consider supporting us!
As part of our efforts to support and help the LGBTQ+ community in Puerto Rico (PR) in 2020, we strengthened our mental health programming, well-being (such as yoga and mindfulness), art and music therapy, faith and spirituality programming, and whenever possible, helped rebuild homes destroyed by hurricanes and abandoned by governmental agencies since Maria. We know this is not enough, and there are more Waves Ahead can do.
First and foremost, let me share some of our 2020 accomplishments:
Emergency Services – Provided aid to over 1,800 community members, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or resources with food, shelter, mental health services, and medication support (in the form of financial assistance and grants for medication), as many lost their homes and means of income in the aftermath of the still ongoing swarm of tremors and earthquakes affecting the Southwest of Puerto Rico.
Ongoing mental health services – in response to high rates of PSTD and suicide attemps resulting from the natural disasters affecting the island, we have developed an educational campaign (titled EXPRESATE). We have increased the availability of mental health services aimed at reducing this underestimated number of people involved. In March alone, and response to the earthquakes, we tripled the number of cases we address online due to the pandemic. We currently service over 250 individual cases every month through our online services due to COVID-19.
Reconstruye Q – Added another four houses to the completed list of reconstructed houses in our ongoing rebuilding efforts from Hurricane Maria for a total of 21 dwellings. We did this while maintaining COVID protocols, a feat onto itself.
Descubrete! The LGBT, Seniors, and Women-Lead Households Entrepreneurship and Training Program helped over 60 individuals launch their efforts. These include small businesses and community non-for-profit entities that aim to create self-sustainability for LGBTQ+ and older community members.
Proyecto Chrysalis – This trans initiative provides mental health and peer support services to the local trans community. It is a trans-lead effort helping one of the most underserved communities of the island. It provides services, financial aid, and activities to underserved and street-bound, young, and older trans individuals.
As much as these programs represent some of our work, it is far from done. Our 2021 priorities include your continued support for the following programs:
* SORAYA’s Shelter – This will be a transitional shelter program for LGBTQ+ community members regardless of age. It will honor Soraya Santiago, a trailblazing Trans-woman from Puerto Rico and one of our board members, who recently passed away. The shelter will provide mental health services and case management in the island’s Southwest area.
* URBAN GARDENING AND GREEN ROOFS INITIATIVE – This project provides food and water sustainability to older LGBTQ+ adults by providing them with the skills, supplies, training, and support to become a “Jibarito/a Urbano/a” (an urban farmer). WAVES AHEAD will assist participants, providing them with mental health support and assistance by “dirt-therapy” experts in home-gardens development.
Waves Ahead, 1149 Ave, Americo Miranda, San Juan, PR 00921.
Finally, We encourage you to join our donation circles, become a monthly donor, make a one-time donation to support the reduction of stigma, raise self-sustainability, and create a more equitable society in Puerto Rico.
● TAINO/A – up to $100
● CACIQUE – $101 – $390
● JIBARO/A – $400 – $1,000
● VEJIGANTE – $1,100 and beyond
– CIRCULO COTORRA BORICUA – $25 to $50 per month: The COTORRA BORICUA Circle supports our continued reconstruction efforts for the LGBTQ+ Older Adults. This monthly donation program provides construction personnel with the necessary supports to purchase raw materials and associated expenses with rebuilding homes for the hundreds of community members affected by a loss of shelter due to hurricanes and earthquakes.
– CIRCULO COQUI – $75 + per month: The COQUI Circle helps sustain our daily services by helping maintain our online services, transitional housing expenses, and mental health supports.
All of your donations go directly to provide services for our communities. The need is deep, and the resources are shallow. We can use all the help you can provide to sustain our efforts.
In the future, once the pandemic is under control, we will, once more, provide opportunities for direct involvement in Puerto Rico. We look forward to hosting volunteers in May 2021, when (hopefully) you can join us to rebuild houses and provide services such as food distribution and others alongside our staff. We look forward to marching with you during the LGBTQ+ PRIDE marches in San Juan or Boqueron. Until then, know we continue to provide services in all of our online platforms for all who need it.
To learn more about our organization’s current work and future initiatives or make your donation, please visit our website https://wavesahead.org. And you can click the picture of our Center in San Juan (right of this text) to view the highlights of our work of 2020.
With my gratitude and very best wishes,
Wilfred W. Labiosa