Parcel 5 has been a hot political conversation all year but on Saturday, politics was aside as the community came out to raise money and collect donations for victims of Hurricane Maria.
On the corner of East Main St. and Cortland, local organizations, restaurants, and musicians volunteered their time to put on an eight-hour long event that raised awareness and provided the community with a space to donate.
The event raised thousands of dollars and collected truckloads of donations, all of which went to the Red Cross. All non perishables were taken to the NYS Police Barracks for delivery to Puerto Rico and the Carribean Islands affected by Hurricane Maria.
Ray Mayoliz, also known as El Rey de la Manana on Poder 97.1, was the coordinator of this event. After hearing so many concerns from his listeners, he said they were compelled to do something about it.
“This, to me, meant to do something from the heart for people who had no control over what happened to them. Our people lost all of their basic necessities,” says Mayoliz. “Our community came together and responded.”
Mayoliz supported similar relief efforts, then had the idea to unite with them and continue to support the relief efforts as long as relief is needed. Mayoliz reached out and began gathering sponsors and partners to collaborate with to move this idea into action.
“I feel today that we made a difference,” – Mayoliz
The Hispanic Heritage Committee of Rochester, The City of Rochester, The American Red Cross, The Rochester City School District, Pathstones, New York State Assemblyman David Gantt, The Rochester Police Department and the Rochester Fire Department, and The Rochester Latino Theatre Company all lent a hand in hosting and sponsoring the event.
“Without realizing how quickly everything and everyone came together ROC Relief was in motion,” says Mayoliz.
The benefit featured Latino bands like, Orquesta Antonetti featuring Marlon Fernandez, Afrikan2, La Muralla, Calle Uno, 5 Con Swing. There was Poetry By Henry Padron and School #12, dance performances by Borinquen Dance Theatre. There were some freestyle artists and local DJs like DJ Aly Khan , DJ Chris Starks, Johnny Mambo and much much more.
All organizations and performers volunteered their time to put on this event. All sound equipment, the stage, the vendors, showed up for free, uniting as a community on a mission to help in any and every way they can.
“I feel today that we made a difference,” says Mayoliz. “I look forward to seeing residents from Puerto Rico and Dominica receive packages from Rochester, NY and it being a message to them that Rochester has their back.”
The event stood out particularly because of it’s breadth- while there were a number of drives, fundraisers and benefits for Puerto Rico, this one brought together many organizations in a central place.
Although Maria hit thousands of miles away, Tricia Cruz-Irving of Ibero said the pain is felt locally. Rochester has one of the largest populations of Puerto Ricans and for days many despaired over the status of their loved ones. Families didn’t hear from each other for weeks and friends were worried about others on the island.
However, the benefit gave them something to do, said Patricia Gonzalez. She was in attendance and said she’d also given to other fundraisers.
“It’s just nice to be able to do something. For awhile, I didn’t hear back from my dad and I was really worried,” she said. “I heard from him about a week ago but that didn’t help. Before I didn’t know the extent of the damage and now I do. That whole island needs as much love as we can give it.”
For more information about future drives and benefits, contact Ibero.
Tianna Mañón contributed to this story.