Sending relief to stricken island
UF psychiatric researcher hopes to help hurricane survivors in his native Puerto Rico.
Since Sept. 20, when Hurricane Maria roared across Puerto Rico as a Category 4 monster, Luis M. Colon-Perez, Ph.D., has been unable to communicate with his family on the devastated island. Colon-Perez, a member of the psychiatry department in the UF College of Medicine, is from Utuado, in the central mountains of Puerto Rico and said he felt compelled to do something to help those struggling with Maria’s aftermath. With help from colleagues and his wife, Yarelis Soto Gonzales, a UF psychiatry resident, Colon-Perez has organized two large collections of donated items that he has taken to Orlando to be shipped to Puerto Rico.
The first collection, on Sept. 23, included items donated by colleagues in the psychiatry department as well as friends in the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute of the University of Florida and at the Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
The second trip took place on Saturday, Sept. 30 and was a much larger collection of items that had been donated all week at boxes set up at various locations.
“I felt this was a good way to keep me from thinking about all the bad stuff,’’ Colon-Perez said.