By Sarah Gross

On July 6, 2018, the Brother’s Brother Foundation (BBF) welcomed one of its most influential partners to Pittsburgh from Puerto Rico.

Since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September of last year, BBF has been working  tirelessly to do what it can to help.

Raul Rodriguez, the president of Luis Garraton LLC (LGI), is a BBF partner in efforts to help Puerto Rico. According to
statistics provided by BBF, LGI managed the storing and  distributing process of 88 container-loads of food, water, medicine and other supplies BBF sent to Puerto Rico.

Rodriguez spoke at the BBF headquarters in Manchester about the state of Puerto Rico following the hurricane. He mentioned the fragile electric grid, the island-wide blackouts, the tarps people used to replace broken ceilings and the destroyed roads and highways. He was especially worried about those living in the mountains in Puerto Rico, since it was hard for them to receive aid.

“Every single Puerto Rican wanted to help,” Rodriguez said.

“Even though it was tough, we learned about who we really are, and what we can do together.”

Ron Alvarado, a member of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, spoke from a more personal angle. His mother was living in Puerto Rico at the time of the hurricane. She had stage four cancer and was losing resources for water and oxygen when the supplies arrived.

“My mother would have been another statistic,” he said.

The day the aid came to Puerto Rico, it was predicted to arrive by 8:30 a.m., but due to the state of the roads, no one expected it for another hour. According to Alvarado, it came by 8:25 a.m. Rodriguez and LGI distributed the vital supplies five minutes early, even though moving through the island was a feat in itself.

LGI also distributed over 400,000 pounds of supplies
donated through the Pittsburgh Pirates. A small group of Pirates themselves even flew to Puerto Rico to assist in the distribution.

Frank Coonelly, the president of the Pirates, worked with both BBF and LGI in order to provide as much help as possible, raising over $200,000 and distributing supplies to over 7,000 families.

BBF has been operating for 60 years. According to the organization’s website, they’ve helped people in need in over 149 countries and provided over 105,000 tons of supplies.

At the Pirates game on July 7, 2018, Rodriguez was honored for his efforts with his own team jersey, and by throwing the first pitch of the game.