Denise Martinez is a member of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Waterbury’s Volunteer Committee.

It’s been a week since Hurricane Fiona wreaked havoc in Puerto Rico. The island is still cleaning up from the disaster. In Waterbury, a woman who’s responded to disasters there before is working to help again. She’s starting up a non-profit of her own. Denise Martinez is no stranger to helping Puerto Rico recover from a disaster, especially dealing with large amounts of donations.

With a non-profit, she wants to make sure donors know where their charity is going. Denise went to Puerto Rico to help when Hurricane Maria hit five years ago. She also went when earthquakes recently rocked the island. In the aftermath of the earthquakes, she worked with her friend Sodelis Garcia to get donations in Anasco and the surrounding area. She took pictures along the way, to show donors how their donations were being put to use. Denise is working with her friend Sodelis again, to bring help to that area once more. She said the approach will be similar to keep donors in the loop.

“When we were going out in the earthquake, we were taking pictures, not that I’m, we’re giving like, oh look at who I’m feeding. But kind of like letting people know, who did send over items, there was a lot of people in this community who donated items and people around her community, just letting them know it got to people,” said Denise.

“Right now, people are sending stuff and hoping, unless they really know a direct person, they’re hoping that these organizations get the food and supplies to the people that need it,” said Denise. The non-profit will work specifically with Anasco and west coast communities, which, according to Denise, have been overlooked in past relief efforts.

“Just making sure that at least that pocket of the community is getting served. Because we know San Juan is gonna be taken care of and hopefully that’ll give motivation to somebody on the other part of the island,” Denise said. The overall goal is to create a system to ensure when the next disaster hits, everyone will be taken care of. “It’s not if it’s gonna happen, it’s when. It’s not like this is never gonna happen again, unfortunately, it’s just hurricane season and next year will be hurricane season, but just being more prepared,” Denise said. Denise said she’s still working to get the non-profit up and running.

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