Island Corps adopts hurricane-stricken school, brings joy to 200 children in Puerto Rico

Escuala Mateo Hernandez

Island Corps has adopted Escuela Mateo Hernandez, in Isabela, P.R.

The underwhelming response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico since Sept. 2017 has left desperate locals in the most devastated regions of this U.S. Commonwealth to fend for themselves.

One such town, in the heart of Puerto Rico, is benefiting through the heartfelt efforts of an organization working hard to provide clean water, clean food, and clean non-moldy books for the students of a hurricane-stricken school in Isabela, on the island’s northwest coast.

“We are committed to pulling all the resources together that we can, to bring back a sense of normalcy for these children,” said Marilu Mayorga, who is leading the effort through an organization she founded called P.R. Community Service Corps – or Island Corps for short.

The organization recently adopted the K-5 elementary school, Escuela Mateo Hernandez, which currently serves about 200 children, including eight orphans.

Marilu Mayorga helping lead an effort to revitalize the elementary school in her community.

Marilu Mayorga works to revitalize the elementary school in her community.

Mayorga recently visited Miami, where her parents currently live, to seek out donations of story books and other learning aids in Spanish and English for children 5-10 years old.

She is also actively recruiting volunteers locally and from all across the continental U.S. to engage in assisting the people of Isabela through what Mayorga describes as, “rewarding service-oriented, meaningful, health oriented activities focused in building a sustainable, hopeful future for Puerto Rico’s uninspired youth.”

Island Corps is seeking 25 volunteers from among the ranks of undergraduate, graduate students, and young professionals educated in U.S.-based universities ready and willing to serve as volunteers to help clear out, clean up, paint, organize, and rehabilitate the school for Isabela’s students to enjoy learning from healthy, clean books.

“Island Corps programs are focused on cultivating a love for community building through service-learning education, personal responsibility, and good civility to develop and empower future leaders of civil society,” said Mayorga, a resident of Isabela, whose own home remains uninhabitable – without power and only a trickle of fresh water – five months after the storm ravaged her community.

A graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, Mayorga was recently here in Miami visiting family. She founded Island Corps nine years ago, after an internship with Puerto Rico’s Secretary of State and the Department of Education. At that time, she visited almost every school on the island and identified a need for caring volunteers to capacitate and inspire children on the island.

Mayorga says that Island Corps was inspired by the U.S. Peace Corps, by providing students residing in the continental U.S. with volunteer opportunities and service-learning assignments offshore.

Georgetown University Patrick Healy Fellows on Puerto Rico service trip

Georgetown University Patrick Healy Fellows on a recent service trip.

“We serve as a bridge of healthy cultural experiences and life-altering eco-adventures for college students,” she added

In the aftermath of the mega storm, Mayorga noted her team has also launched a series of five pediatric health events to help bring relief to children at this school where rates of pediatric diabetes rates among students have shot up dramatically over the past several months as a result of lack of balanced dietary options.

“But more than anything, we also just want to bring these children joy, something they so desperately deserve after dealing with the trauma the hurricane has left behind,” she added.

To donate books, send an email to and in response you will get a package of information including the address to the school where donations may be forwarded.

Mayorga invites donors to include inside their donation boxes a message on a sticker, along the lines of: “Sent to the children of Puerto Rico with love from your family or organization.”

For information, contact Island Corps by calling 202-854-1729 or via email

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About the Author

Bill Kress
Bill Kress, President of Kress Communications, is an editorial consultant with the Community Newspapers, covering business news, non-profits, and municipal government. He is an award-winning public relations practitioner, news reporter, photographer, and a prolific social mediologist. Reach Bill at or call 305-763-2429.

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