Don is King

-Frankie Divito

Since coming to Puerto Rico I have seen and worked with many extraordinary people. One person who stands out though among them is named Don Andres. Don is used to honorific title used for elderly men; Dona is for women. Dona Andres is a contractor we have been serving with since we moved to our Lares, Puerto Rico Forward Operating Base. He is extremely hard working man who never stops.

 Frankie (left) and first year Eli Schmidt mixing concrete in Lares. Photo: Wyatt Berrier

Frankie (left) and first year Eli Schmidt mixing concrete in Lares. Photo: Wyatt Berrier

Since Hurricane Maria Don Andres' house had been blown half off but instead of working on his own house he's been working on houses in the community around him. My team and I have been lucky enough to have the chance to work alongside him.

Currently we are in the process of rebuilding a house from the ground up. The homeowner's house was completely blown away and the family is living in a tent next to their old home. We have supplied water and food since coming but what they really need is a solid roof over their house. Don Andres is the jefe, or boss in English, of the project. The communication between us and Don Andres is hard since he doesn't speak English and we only have one Spanish speaker but we get by with hand gestures.

 First Years Wyatt Berrier (left) and Eli Schmidt moving concrete for the house in Lares, Puerto Rico.

First Years Wyatt Berrier (left) and Eli Schmidt moving concrete for the house in Lares, Puerto Rico.

Since we first started the rebuild we have built all the concrete walls up and put a ceiling up over the house. We only have a few things left to do like install plywood walls, put tin on the roof and a couple more things. Unfortunately we don't believe we will be there to see it to completion. We only have about a week left and it takes time to rebuild a house from nothing.

Building the house from the ground up is taking its toll on Don Andres as well. On the weekend he's at his own house mixing concrete, building rebar supports, constructing concrete walls and more. He's working on his own house and other houses while dealing with an injured shoulder, knee and back. The man never stops. He has been an inspiration to our team and we have learned so much from him.

We are really grateful for our opportunity to serve in Lares, Puerto Rico and wish we could stay longer if it was possible.

 Frankie (left) putting up walls for the home in Lares. Photo Credit: Wyatt Berrier.

Frankie (left) putting up walls for the home in Lares. Photo Credit: Wyatt Berrier.