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Women on a mission in Puerto Rico

Headlines about the island of Puerto Rico without power and/or water months after Hurricane Maria made landfall continue to spur employees into action.

Employees are being spurred into action across all parts of the business and in close partnership with the GSK teams in Humacao and Guaynabo and our US Employee Resource Groups. 

For several employees this has meant traveling directly to Puerto Rico to offer support or sending their support via monetary and/or in-kind donations. For our teams in Puerto Rico it has meant going above and beyond to support their local communities. This is work that started last year and is ongoing today.

For Isamar Ramos (New York), Terry Dunn (North Carolina), Molly Castellano (Pennsylvania) and Adriana Álvarez-Pérez (Illinois) – members of GSK’s Multi-Faith Network and Conexion Latina --  taking action meant spending their end-of-year time off heading to Puerto Rico for a one-week mission trip on the island.  

Not only did they use their own money to finance their trip, but they came to the island with additional donations from supporters who heard about their trip and wanted to offer help.

To determine how best to help those in need on the island, they partnered with First Baptist Church of Rio Piedras (a suburb of San Juan) resulting in a variety of efforts each day.

They not only served together with local churches and non-faith based groups in assisting communities with meals, aid, and cleanup, they spent much of their time simply listening to the stories of those impacted.

They spent two days in the kitchen of St. Paul's Methodist Church, in Barrio Obrero, cooking food for the homeless and serving FEMA meals to others in need. While there, they played with children and decorated and filled more than 100 brown bags of candy for the kids. Another day was spent distributing much needed supplies like bottle water, over-the-counter medicines, baby diapers, sanitary napkins, personal hygiene kits, clothes, tarps, blankets, batteries, 5-gallon waters buckets, and generators in the mountainous municipality/region of Adjuntas.

After the ladies left Adjuntas they visited a nearby hospital in the small community, Castaner. There they received a brief tour and learned that Hospital Castaner served as a hub for people to come and receive medical help and aid after the Hurricane. There, they talked to several locals from the island who shared stories of recovery.

Stories of recovery that wouldn’t be possible without the help of everyday people going above and beyond to give back. People like Laura -- the women met Laura, a native of Puerto Rico, who has devoted the last several months coordinating major relief efforts for her neighboring communities in Puerto Rico, helping those in greatest need. When they discovered that Laura’s own home had been damaged by the storm, they stepped up and spent an afternoon repainting the exterior of her house in gratitude for all the work she has done for others.

 “It was good to be in Puerto Rico and experience every day what they are going through, and in turn, contribute to their work to support those in need," said Terry Dunn, GSK. Terry also commented on the key role that faith centers bring to the communities. “The centers we visited are integral to the recovery of the island and are working relentlessly to mobilize people and provide shelter where they can. We were inspired by the spirit of all those with whom we worked and we’re eager to support their full recovery.”


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