In the days and weeks after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, photos and stories of the devastation it had caused were being shared on the social media streams of Sonnedix team members around the world.
While our solar plants in Puerto Rico, Horizon at Salinas and Oriana at Isabela, had survived the 175mph winds with only minor damage, it was evident that many homes, schools, hospitals and much of Puerto Rico’s critical infrastructure had suffered extensive damage. And while we had been able to ensure our local team members and their families were safe, with accommodation and access to the basics, the images and words appearing on our phones and screens showed that this was not the case for many.
Very quickly and from every corner of the world, team members began asking what they could do to help. While many were already supporting the company efforts, they wanted to do something to demonstrate their own individual support and solidarity for the people and communities affected by Hurricane Maria. In particular, they were anxious to support those in the communities surrounding our plants. This was not only because they were receiving less help than those in the capital San Juan, but also because they were the very people who had recently worked with Sonnedix to build the plants. They are part of the Sonnedix family.
Many excellent fundraising ideas were considered but consensus settled on ‘Give it Up for Puerto Rico’ where team members could donate the cash value of any unused annual leave and the company would match every donation, dollar for dollar.
The response was overwhelming with a total of $86,000 raised. Contributions were received from every country, every function and from long-standing team members to those who had recently joined the company.
Attention then turned to how the money should be spent.
Again, it was the views of team members that shaped the plan. It was clear that people wanted the money to go directly to the communities near our plants; they wanted to know what it was being spent on; and who would benefit.
Thanks to the immense efforts and great network of our team in Puerto Rico, we will be supporting and enhancing ongoing initiatives being run by the local authorities at the Isabela and Salinas municipalities. The funds donated will provide sustainable access to clean drinking water to all residents through water filtering systems and basic but vital medical supplies to those most in need in the two communities. The water filtering systems were set up at several locations throughout both municipalities. These systems will reduce the risk of consuming contaminated water and related illnesses.
Making this happen has required the involvement of many people across the business including HR, finance and legal; and wide support from individuals who donated, to our investors who fully backed the initiative.
As we continue to work in partnership with the authorities and local communities to deliver our contribution, it’s clear that the benefits of ‘Give it Up for Puerto Rico’ will not just be felt on the Island. Every part of the Sonnedix community has benefited from this very tangible reminder that we are part of a company that supports each other not just in words but also in actions.