The recent natural disaster resulting in a life-threatening humanitarian catastrophe in Puerto Rico propelled Comunicad into crisis mode. Soon after Hurricane Maria ravaged my homeland, I knew I needed to do something to make a difference.I hosted a holiday fundraiser that raised $100,000 from in-kind contributions including silent auction items, volunteer hours, food services, and cash donations to buy Christmas gifts for the children of Puerto Rico. A portion of the donations raised was given to the Toys 4 Puerto Rico campaign earlier this year.

This reminded me of the value of relationships—they are priceless. I also realized how important the relationships and partnerships with my clients and community-based organizations can be in a time of crisis. Cultivating and nurturing a partnership can result in positive outcomes. This is what we do well at Comunicad, and leveraging what we’ve worked so hard at over the years is making a difference to help people when they need it the most.

Comunicad collaborated with several amazing community-based organizations in Puerto Rico, and together with our clients activated a rapid-response strategy that served the needs of the people living in the hardest hit areas of the island. A massive effort was launched that included, the distribution of food and clothing, water filters, new books for the children, and other critical resources. We are still engaged in these efforts and there is still more work to do in the coming months before hurricane season starts up again. Here’s what our experience illustrated about what worked well for us, from planning and execution to convening the partners at the table and activation.

  • Every step of the way, engage the community groups who best know the needs of the people they serve and work with every single day.
  • Recognize and bring in the experts who are entrenched in the communities and on the ground with access to people, resources, and time.
  • Leverage the reach and investment of clients who truly care about people and will make a dedicated effort to provide long-term investment in the communities where they do business.
  • Ensure that the efforts are sustainable to support the ongoing needs of the community for the long term.

Yes, it was great to see the positive outcomes and feedback from the community and press. Priceless is the response and appreciation from the people we’ve helped. I value the relationships with my clients and community-based organizations we work with every day, and building bridges to bring them to the table. In the meantime, it’s important to express appreciation for the commitment and hard work of all our partners during this tough time in Puerto Rico.

When it was time to act, the partners responded and the communities who needed the help the most are better for it.

By Gloria Rodríguez, President & CEO, Comunicad, LLC