San Jose club continues to send hurricane relief to Puerto Rico, champions culture locally

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Wednesday, October 12, 2022
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The San Jose Puerto Rican Civic Club is working to support Puerto Ricans in the aftermaths of the hurricanes while also championing culture locally.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- This week wraps up Hispanic and Latin Heritage Month.

Over the last few weeks, a brutal hurricane season has thrust Puerto Rico into the worldwide spotlight once more.

Locally, one group is working to support the people still suffering while also championing the local Puerto Rican culture here in the Bay Area.

Maria Acevedo Campbell has been hard at work for weeks now leading local efforts, sending relief to those suffering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico in September. Though, more devastation has since been caused in other areas by Hurricane Ian, many Puerto Ricans are still suffering.

RELATED: At least 25 deaths in Puerto Rico may be linked to Hurricane Fiona, island health department says

Acevedo Campbell and her team have been able to coordinate help in just weeks from the South Bay thousands of miles away.

"We were able to bring food, we brought water, we brought generators, we brought Luci lights," she said of the group's work, "We brought a lot of volunteers, we brought gifts for the children."

And the work only continues, the nonprofit behind all of it is San Jose's Puerto Rican Civic Club, a key local force behind relief sent five years ago, when Hurricane Maria all but leveled the Island. The lessons learned from that disaster, still serving them now.

"We've been working since Maria, so when (Hurricane Fiona) happened, we were ready, organized and prepared to mobilize all the units that we have in Puerto Rico," Acevedo Campbell said, "And since, we made a coalition with other nonprofits, we have been able to touch the heart of Puerto Rico."

RELATED: How to help Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic during Hurricane Fiona

The club itself has a rich history in the South Bay, Acevedo Campbell is now its president, she moved to the Bay in her teens, eventually discovering the San Jose Puerto Rican Civic Club.

"I was so excited because I didn't fit in anywhere, I couldn't understand the Mexican lingo, or the South American lingo, or their Spanish was a little bit different," she reflected, "I didn't fit in with the American people, because my English was broken, so there was no place for me and when I found the Dia de San Juan festival, I found home."

She explained the unique challenges that she feels has led so many in the Bay Area's Puerto Rican community to become as tight knit as they have.

"We are part of the community and the essence of California," she said, "The problem with Puerto Ricans is that we don't fit in with the American people, because we're not American enough and we don't fit in with the Latin community because we have a United States citizenship, and at times we were discriminated in both ends."

VIDEO: Bad Bunny brings entourage of 80 to Bay Area Puerto Rican restaurant

But through unity, the club has made its mark on the Bay Area and further.

"One person can make a difference," Acevedo Campbell said, "It's just a matter of knowing the right people and being in the right time, and thinking about the future and what that future holds for our island."

This Hispanic and Latin American Heritage Month, Acevedo Campbell shares this reminder.

"We make a difference in the sauce of the United States, we are part of the condiments and bring a lot to this country and we should be included in everything and everyone should be treated equally."

The nonprofit, San Jose Puerto Rican Civic club says any gift goes a long way, and you can find ways to help in the continued efforts here.

More stories on Hispanic and Latin Heritage Month here.

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