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Valencia Poinciana dean headed to Puerto Rico

Posted on Monday, October 30, 2017 at 2:25 pm

By Ken Jackson

Staff Writer

With a predominant Puerto Rican population in Poinciana, it’s no surprise that the new Valencia College campus is a collection site for donated goods needed by those still on the island still recovering from a direct hit from Hurricane Maria nearly a month ago.

The view of the need in Puerto Rico, where only 25 percent of residents have power following the Sept. 20 storm, will soon be a first-person account.

Poinciana Campus Executive Dean Jennifer Robertson, who spent seven years (1993-2000) on the island running a language school, lived through 1998’s Hurricane Georges and gave birth to a son there, is heading there Nov. 19 to do what she can to help a place she called home.

“I have many friends and family on the island, so I feel a very strong need to go help wherever I’m needed,” she said. “I also want to document the stories of the people who I encounter and my travels on Facebook to let our community know about the need there.”

Robertson said she’s connected with various people she knows in Puerto Rico and said a desperate but under-reported need is for small battery-operated fans and D-size batteries.

“Lots of them!” she said. “Once I get down there, I will be able to check out the distribution channels and I can send details on how to ship items to ensure they get to who needs them.”

Robertson has been collecting at the Poinciana campus, where those in the community can drop off donations of goods or money, and the entire college is now involved. The Orlando East and West campuses plus Osceola and Lake Nona are also collecting goods that will eventually make it to Poinciana.

The biggest needs are still the obvious: all baby needs (diapers, wipes, dry milk), hygiene products (feminine products, toilet paper, adult diapers, compression legging for the elderly), medical supplies (Advil, alcohol, Neosporin, gauze), prepackaged food (rice, beans, instant coffee/creamer), pet food and animal wellness medications, mosquito repellent and nets, school supplies for children (back packs, notebooks,

pencils, toys, puzzles, craft items), gallons of water and purification systems.

Other items needed that aren’t being talked about, Robertson said, include electrical converters and solar powered items (cell phone chargers), trash bags and other plastic bags, storage containers of all sizes, gardening and farming supplies (gloves, gasoline powered

hand machines, ropes, shovels).

“We are arranging for a shipment to go down by boat in the coming weeks,” Robertson said. “We also have a process in place where you can donate funds and we will purchase the items for you.”

She said she knows she’ll have a roof over her head where she’s staying in Puerto Rico, but she isn’t expecting power or running water.

“It’ll be like camping for week,” she said. “At least that’s what I’m preparing myself for.”