One year ago, Honeywell volunteers planned to convert an abandoned two-room school into a community technology center in Moca, Puerto Rico, home to one of Aerospace’s newest labs.
Before they had a chance, disaster struck. Hurricane Maria tore through the tiny island state, causing catastrophic damage and numerous fatalities. All plans were cancelled as the people of Puerto Rico struggled to get back on their feet.
One year later, more than 100 employees, local community members and the mayor of Moca regrouped to finish the job. The day was spent painting, assembling desks, installing computers, landscaping and building a gazebo and swing set. The result - a new Moca Technology Center with internet access, a vast array of learning opportunities for residents of all ages, and a space for local gatherings.
Students of Moca take turns testing the new technology.
Damaris Hernandez, an export compliance officer in Aguadilla, whose home was destroyed by the storm, shared her story:
“The Honeywell Humanitarian Relief Fund was there for me after Hurricane Maria, providing immediate financial support that allowed recovery to begin for my family. When renewed plans to build the Technology Center were announced, I knew I needed to be part of it.
“Moca now has a place where people have free internet access, courses and educational tools. Helping to build this center felt like one small way to say thank you to those who helped me,” she said.
To celebrate, Honeywell hosted an inaugural ribbon-cutting ceremony with Moca Mayor José E. (Kiko) Avilés Santiago.
“Mayor Avilés has been involved in every detail of the project since day one,” said Luis Ramos, Honeywell Moca site leader. “It was very inspiring to all of us when he brought his family and worked beside us the entire day.”
Once the ribbon was cut, the center got its real test when students from a local school checked things out for themselves, while local police officers and other community members toured the center.
“It gives me great pleasure to know that my former school has been transformed into a technology center,” said Moisés Vélez, Moca Technology Center administrator, who was a student at the school many years earlier. “I am excited about the opportunities that will be available to the residents of Moca.”