By John Lynds
Dante Alighieri Montessori School Principal Glenda Colon was raised in Puerto Rico, so when Hurricane Maria hit the island as a Category 4 storm she was glued to the T.V. hoping for the best.
“I was born in Boston, but moved and was raised in Puerto Rico surrounded by many family members–cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents,” said Colon. “During the storm, it became difficult to connect with family members, and as I shared my story with my community, I realized that more of our community members had been affected than I realized.”
At the Alighieri four staff members and students still have family members in Puerto Rico who are currently faced with a humanitarian crisis. Food and water shortages, electric and telecommunications outages and suffering have become the daily norm for million of Puerto Ricans on the island.
“That is when I realized that we had to move forward, and support each other by working together to bring support to Puerto Rico.
Colon teamed up with Pastor Gerardo Guillen from Chelsea who is part of the National Humanitarian Organization that brings relief to countries around the world to begin collecting supplies for Puerto Rico at the school.
“I didn’t imagine that the support would be as big as it was, and I am grateful for our community members,” she said. “I created a simple flyer that I shared with family members, colleagues, and the parent community of our school. Somehow that flyer made its way to Boston Public School principals, the East Boston EEC, Lesley University, Bentley University, employees of the Saugus Target, Stoneham RTC, Alighieri Families and East Boston and Stoneham (where Colon resides) community members.”
Soon hundreds of donations began to flow into the school. Last week, Pastor Guillen came to the school to begin to collect the donation, and send them on their journey to Puerto Rico.
“I feel truly blessed and proud of how our community came together in support of the needs of our extended community members,” said Colon. “Many of our community members used this as a learning opportunity for their children, and have connected with the Alighieri’s vision to contribute our gifts back to the community. We worked as a team, with a common goal. I really felt the love during this drive. As a result, other community members and schools in and out of Boston Public Schools have connected about having their own drive. I’m elated!”