First Congregational Church to hold benefit to support hurricane victims in Puerto Rico
DARIEN — Marking the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico, First Congregational Church will host a concert next Friday.
Gary Holmes, a member of the church’s board of Christian outreach, said the idea came as an effort by the church to find the best way to respond to the hurricane last year.
“We decided to have a concert with Puerto Rican music and Puerto Rican food,” he said. “A celebration of Puerto Rican culture to raise money for some beneficiary.”
Holmes said the board came up with the idea of focusing on a small village where there could be an impact. They also hoped to establish a relationship with the community. The church reached out to the Puerto Rican community in Bridgeport as well as New Haven to find how best to help.
They decided to raise money to help support the village of Mariana, Puerto Rico. The goal of the church is to raise $10,000. The funds raised will be used to help convert an abandoned schoolhouse in Mariana into a community center, Holmes said.
“What we liked about them was that they were really advocating for self-dependence,” Holmes said. “They wanted to help themselves. They didn’t want to rely on the government.”
The community center will be called El Centro de Imaginacion (”The Imagination Center”). The center will support education and development of village children as well as attract visitors for both the arts and business. The facility will also provide shelter from future storms.
Holmes said the benefit will be held at First Congregational Church of Darien on Brookside Road from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 per person and can be purchased online. Music will be provided by the Norwalk-based band “Park City.” Food will be provided by the New Haven-based restaurant La Esquina Del Mofongo.
The church hopes to have the satisfaction of seeing the community in Mariana recover, Holmes said. They also hope to establish a longterm relationship with the community.
“What we would like to gain from this is to build a relationship with Mariana so we could continue to do this moving forward,” he said. “This is part of our Christian mission to help.”