NEWS

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THE BEST OF VIEQUES


March 2013

With all the talk and news about the increasing crime in Vieques, it is important to know that there are good people and organizations who are willing to take risks and offer services which will prevent it. A case in point is Reach for Success, provides after school programs for students who are motivated and interested in obtaining a productive and meaningful future. In the last five years, 75 students have earned scholarships to attend schools on the mainland . Many of these students continue to come back to Vieques to mentor younger students and to share their experiences.

But this is a story about people in Vieques who are committed to helping others and enhancing the opportunities of its youth. Several month ago, Wynne and Glenn Curry, long time residents of Vieques, agreed to visit Reach for Success. As Glenn said, "It might be helpful to share my experience of growing up on a small island and finding my way...."

From  the small island of Key West, Glenn told a rapt audience of youngsters about finding his way to the States. At Columbia University he obtained a doctorate degree in HIstory, and ultimately arrived in Vieques where he and Wynne became the proud proprietors of Bananas in Esperanza.

After a discussion of how one prepares for an interview and what is needed to obtain a job, a strong show of hands indicated that many of the students hoped to come back to Vieques to work after going to school. The Currys then offered to interview students interested in working in their restaurant. They subsequently proceeded to hire and train four ambitious students who have been working for them ever since. Glenn then volunteered to mentor and teach kids "how to take a test." This is an invaluable tool, as many students never learn the tricks and skills which are necessary to score well. But Glenn continues to assert that he wants to do more! The difference he has made already is immeasurable! He has trained students to do a job well, encouraged others to try harder, and most of all, has given the gift of trust and affirmation to those who need it most. Ultimately, the experience the kids are having will contribute to whatever they decide to do in the future and will hopefully become a roadmap for a productive life, not one involving crime.

Aid has also come from the Human Resource Department of the W Hotel. Greg White, the General Manager, understands the need for training the youth of Vieques and working within the community. He knows applicants must be able to compete in getting the better jobs which will provide for a better future. One of his best employees happens to be a graduate of Reach. She has been given an opportunity to work at an entry level job in the hospitality business, where she plans to continue to grow. The  W  is also providing workshops for RFS which will enhance a student's communication skills as well as their own self esteem. Such training will enable a job applicant to increase his or her possibility of obtaining a job at the W or anywhere else. Such training will hopefully translate into more jobs for local residents who can compete in every way with nonresidents seeking employment in Vieques.

Another organization which has stepped up to the plate in recognizing the importance of RFS is the Navy League.  Through their generosity and under the leadership of the Cisneros, RFS was given a computer and six partial scholarships. The Navy League has also committed to partnering with RFS in the future and will be providing funds for additional scholarships this year. The significance of these contributions cannot be underestimated. If Vieques is to become a safer, cleaner and healthier place for its residents, as well as a magnet for tourism and a  place where there are more jobs and opportunities, the island needs to invest in its youth. Without it, there will be more crime, more weapons and more drugs. For we all know that nothing breeds violence and crime like poverty, ignorance and boredom.

With education, caring and guidance, the future of Vieques can be bright. Now it is up to all of us to light the way. Thanks to all of you who have contributed donations, your support and your talents. If you would like more information contact Carmen Portela Wier at 787-243-1352.


DECEMBER 2012

As 2012 draws to a close, Reach for Success is both grateful and hopeful for many things:

In August, the W hosted a now internationally known event called Taste of the Island. Chefs and sponsors from far and near outdid each other in creating fantastic food and drinks, while the festivities and silent auction offered fun and memories for all. Proceeds were given to the scholarship fund of Reach for Success, which has enabled a total of 70 students to continue their education in schools throughout Puerto Rico.


After seeing a video about Reach for Success on television, Walmart/Colgate Palmolive contacted RFS and invited 43 students to attend a workshop which was given at the W Hotel. Dentists from the Caguas talked to the students about their careers, and checked their teeth. Each student received a Walmart gift card, as well as breakfast and lunch, and RFS was awarded a $10,000 grant.


The Department de La Famila in Vieques, also offered a series of fifteen different workshops related to leadership.These included subjects such as responsibility, values, self esteem, non-violence, bullying and communication. Upon completion, thirty five members of RFS went to San Juan to receive


Certificate Awards in the Convention Center, where they were served lunch. Partnerships with other agencies in Vieques are now being formed which will encourage participation and awareness of others and offer activities which are mutually beneficial to each group.

Barry Nelson, a veteran volunteer of RFS and a retired Educational Psychologist from Vermont will be continuing his work with students this year. He will focus on the theme of responsibility. This subject frequently comes up in discussions with businesses who are willing and able to hire

students for entry level jobs. Being on time, interviewing techniques and social awareness will be covered in workshops offered by Jorge Palomares, Director of Human Resources for the W Hotel.

Competence in English is another requirement for students who are pursing higher education or future career paths. Nancy Gilbert will be one of several volunteers who has offered her services to Reach for Success.The value of sharing one's expertise with students cannot be overstated enough nor can the gratification which comes from really making a difference in someone's life. As Reach for Success continues to gain new members, so does the need for more volunteers and donations grow.


Please consider supporting this vital group of dedicated students and volunteers who recognize that the future of Vieques depends on them. Thanks to all of you who have shown your support and confidence in RFS. It has really made a difference! For more information or to make a contribution, please visit the web site at www.reachforsuccess.org, or contact Carmen Portela at 787-243-1352 .


Best Wishes for a Healthy and Happy Holiday Season and a Peaceful New Year.



AUGUST, 2012


Summer is not a sleepy time for RFS. In July, an awards ceremony was held to celebrate the accomplishments of both students and adults involved with Reach for Success, Vieques' non For profit organization dedicated to helping students achieve their personal goals.


The following six students with the best grades and academic achievement received scholarships from the Navy League to continue their education: Jacqueline O. Ramos, Melany Santos, Carlos D.Rosario, Cleivy Luciano, Solanch Estrada, and Roberto Cabezudo. They all make Vieques proud!


Reach for Success has offered scholarships to all graduating who fulfill their club obligation for the past five years. However, it is the generosity of organizations and individuals from the US, Puerto Rico and Vieques, which makes this possible. To date, 65 students have received scholarships and are attending schools throughout Puerto Rico.


Roberto Cacho, a board member of RFS was also honored for his dedication and continuous support of Reach for Success. His contributions are legendary and greatly appreciated by all.


In addition, the University of Maya Ouest gave RFS new computers which have been constantly in use since they were installed. The grant that they helped to write included funds for teachers and services, which are also available to the Vieques community. Drs. Gonzalez and Gregory from the university were the presenters.


During July, another youth group comprised of students from New England visited Reach for Success. They contributed community service work and enjoyed Vieques hospitality. Together, the kids bonded friendships, cleaned the beach near the Ceiba tree, and baked and sold cupcakes. Proceeds from a car wash will also go towards funding a RFS trip to Puerto Rico to visit colleges.


Finally, a noted playwright, teacher and actor from New York volunteered his time to work with the kids from Reach for Success. Tom Demenkoff, Artistic Director of PossibleArts in NYC, led them through a series of interdisciplinary exercises and routines. The young participants learned and practiced the tools necessary for acting, playwriting and performance. With a mission for building self esteem, strong community and a vibrant universal language, this workshop series has yielded original plays written and performed by the students representing their unique interests, family history and future dreams.


In the fall, RFS will gear up for another challenging year, helping kids develop their potential and giving them the training necessary to make their dreams come true. You can help by volunteering time, donating services or contributing Funds. To learn more about Reach for Success, Visit the website at .www.Reachforsuccess.org or contact Carmen Portela Wier at 787 243 1352 or cpwier@gmail.com or Freya Block at freyablockdesign@gmail.com




February 2012


Exciting things are really happening at Reach for Success!

Thanks to the efforts of Jose Giovanni Ojeda, Director of the Office of the General Coordinator for Socio-Economic Financing and Self Management, and the Honorable Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuno, to the W Retreat & Spa, and to the many sponsors and participants and volunteers at last year’s memorable Taste of the Island, a new home for Reach for Success has finally been procured and developed. In the building next to Sol Creations in Isabella, work has been done to create a state of the art place where kids can come after school to be safe to study, work and play. The Governor is planning to come for the opening, and all of Vieques will be invited!


For the last five years, RFS has provided 65 deserving students with scholarships to pursue their education and realize their dreams. Now, there are sixty five new students who are members of  Reach for Success.  This is a new record, and by the time you read this, they will be able to meet several times a week to improve their English, computer skills and develop new skills and interests.


While the new space is being prepared, Eric Schmell, a pilot for VAL, has been volunteering his time and sharing his passion for alternative energy. He has designed a competition in which five groups of students will give a power point presentation. The five teams will study wind power, solar power, geothermal energy, bio-fuel, and hydrogen and present their projects to a jury. The group with the best presentation will receive a prize.


Sandra Reyes, a local multi-media artist has also offered to work with a team of students to create a new sign for the new building. And, Wynne Curry is  offering a job at Bananas to any eager student who can get to work on time and is willing to practice speaking English while being paid to work! RFS is also seeking a volunteers interested in teaching horticulture or plant maintenance and creating a garden in the back yard.


Another project which merits mention is the incredible collective talent which was displayed in December at a party for friends and family of RFS. Three short plays were written and produced by the students to an enthusiastic

crowd.


Next summer, under the guidance of a New York director, RFS plans to offer a 2 week drama workshop in July. From July 9th -20th, other workshops will be be offered which will be run by professionals in various fields. Anyone who is interested in sharing their talents or interests should contact Carmen Portela Wier as soon as possible.


Finally, in order to continue to provide such services and fill the great void of activities for the kids in Vieques, RFS is starting it's annual scholarship drive.This year 13 students will be needing help to continue their education.  Please be as generous as you can and know that you will be making a difference in the lives of our youth. Checks can be made out to Reach for Success and sent to Box 306, Vieques, Puerto Rico 06075. For more information contact Freya Block at 917-669-0055, or Carmen Portela at 787-243-1352.



January 2011


Apparently the word is out:  the US Department of education has officially declared that Vieques has the worst schools in Puerto Rico and, a drop out rate which is so high it is unbelievable! While this may not be news to some, it does make a good argument for continuing the work of organizations like Reach for Success and other organizations which are dedicated to helping the youth of Vieques.


In addition to the abysmal academic standards which students have to contend with in Vieques, there is also the lure and enticement of drug and alcohol abuse which is contributing to the horrific increase in both violent and non violent crime on the island. If these trends are to be improved, it is our responsibility to provide the youth of Vieques with positive alternatives. Reach for Success has made a difference in all of the lives of its members.. 


RFS is an after school program which serves students ages 12-18. With an emphasis on formulating goals and fulfilling necessary requirements to achieve them,

Reach has enabled 65 students to further their education with the help of scholarships and an active mentoring/training program.


Workshops in English, alternative energy, psychology, photography, art, health care, business entrepreneurship, and hospitality have broadened the students horizons and made them aware of possible careers they didn't know existed.


Many local volunteers like Chuck Tephner and Eric Schmell, have helped to inspire and influence students who are interested in subjects which are not offered in schools in Vieques. By working together on special projects under the capable guidance of professionals, students develop responsabilty, leadership and useful skills which will become assets throughout their lives.


This year, Chuck will be working on creating a newsletter which the students will design, develop and distribute, while Eric, who is a pilot for VAL, will be sharing his passion (and knowledge) with those interested in environmental conservation and preservation.


This year, please consider the gift of giving and making a difference.  You can do so by volunteering time, or making a contribution. For more information, contacting Carmen Portela at 787-243-1352 or calling Freya Block at freyablockdesign@gmail.com.


November 2011


In looking forward to another season in Vieques, it is thrilling to recognize the positive changes and progress of Reach for Success which have been taking place over the last four years.


Under the able leadership of Carmen Portela Wier and a dedicated staff of volunteers and professionals, Reach offers an after school program enrichment and tutorial program for youths ages 12-18 who are interested in opportunities to enhance their English and academic skills, participate in social and community activities, and be exposed to career and vocational development. All students and volunteers are welcome to join.


This year, Reach will have a new home which will afford access to both outdoor and indoor spaces. This is possible   due to the generosity and commitment of the Government of  Puerto Rico. Although the lease has been signed, there is still work to be done to make it safe and usable for the sixty students who have enrolled in the program.


In the interim, eager students have been meeting and making plans for the future. So far, English classes, a car wash, and a workshop on violence in relationships have been scheduled.  A party called “Goofy Games” was attended by 47 students who got to know each other through games, song and dance as well as great food provided by Minerva Camacho.


Future workshops which are scheduled involve discussions on health care, self esteem, grooming, physical fitness, drug and alcohol awareness, photography, drama and art. Special emphasis will, of course, be given to improving English and computer skills, which are understandably recognized as essential tools for both advanced studies and job opportunities. Trips to museums, and colleges in Puerto Rico are also planned.


In October, Reach for Success also awarded checks to the students who graduated from Vieques High School and qualified for scholarships to continue their education. Sixty three students have so far attended schools in Puerto Rico with financial help from Reach for Success.


If you would like to “make a difference” by volunteering or making a contribution, please contact Carmen Portela Wier at cpwier@gmail.com or call 917-243-1352.



Aug 2011


By the time you read this, the talk of the island will be about the Taste of the Island which took place at the W Hotel and Spa on Aug 19-21. Last year, Reach For Success collaborated with the W as part of the opening of the hotel and the W's interest in committing to a community relations effort in Vieques that would be lasting and meaningful.This year,  top chefs from Vieques and San Juan  donated their presence, their talent and their food to benefit the youth of Vieques. Due to the generosity of the W and all those sponsors who contributed to the success of the Taste, graduates of REACH FOR SUCCESS can enroll in schools which will enable them to learn the skill necessary to enrich their lives and enter field of their choice.

 

Reach For Success is a non for profit organization open to all students in Vieques who are interested in education after high school and gaining the skills necessary to pursue their dreams. Students have chosen vocations which  include medicine, engineering, hospitality, physical therapy, industrial design, education, communications, and  others.


With help from the W, corporate and government grants, and many individuals from Puerto Rico and the US, over 55 students have been awarded scholarships to continue their education. They understand that the future of Vieques depends on its youth, who need all the help they can get to succeed in today's competitive world. 

 

Sponsors like the Navy League and Vieques Air Link  also understand this and receive the benefits of good will generated by their donations which have supported  REACH FOR SUCCESS. Contributions include either monetary gifts, or product and services (such as computers or transportation), or tangible goods and workshops. Profits from the Taste of the Island will be used to generate programs,  reduce operating costs and provide scholarships for members for  Reach for Success.


Sponsors this year (who have made commitments prior to the printing of this article include the following):   

One Link, Turism Co., Chivas Regal, Absolut, The Patron Spirits Co., Stella Artois, V. Suarez, B.Fernandez, Quintana & Hnos., Plaza Cellars, Mendez & Co., Jacob Creeks, Serralles Cava, Vinos & Descorches, Vieques Air Link, Asterisco, Kraft, Cape Air and Goya.

 

REACH for SUCCESS  is grateful and appreciative for all the support it has received from one and all!


Many  months of hard work and planning go into making  an event such as the Taste of the Island a success.   Among those who gave endless hours and energy are Ileana and Roberto Cacho, their competent  daughter Natalia and Dari Casillas and Laura Font. Many others, too numerous to name,  deserve thanks and kudos as well!

 

Meanwhile, this summer the students in  RFS were  busy doing community service.  They painted a high school and hosted 3 different student groups from the United States. These programs prove to be invaluable as an exchange of cultural values and promoting friendships which endure over the years. As the result of this year's efforts, and the Taste of the Island,  it is hoped that next year RFS will be able to provide a full scale summer enrichment program for the children of Vieques and partner groups who are interested in participating.


Another important event of the summer was the decision for Reach for Success to move to a new building in Isabella. After many disappointments and a  false leads,  a perfect space was found near the Plaza.  It is convenient to schools, conducive to learning and safe for all students. This is a center which the kids can consider their own, and where they will always be welcome to  come and grow.


As new season  is upon us, many young lives will be affected by their affiliation with Reach for Success. All students ages 12- 18 are welcome to join. A sixteen year old member  recently  said "“Reach for Success is an excellent program that has helped me grow so much as a person. Those in charge of RFS have taught me to take responsibility for my life and my actions. Thank you RFS!” 


For more information on Reach for Success visit the web site: Reach for Success.org. or contact Carmen Portela Wier at 787-243-1352 or at cpwier@gmail.com



MARCH 2011


VOLUNTEERS STEP UP TO THE PLATE


The beginning of this year has been a busy time for Chuck Tephner, a part time resident of Vieques and a former  publishing entrepreneur from Connecticut. Chuck and his wife Sandy have been coming to Vieques for many years and have been actively involved newsletter will  offer interviews with individuals of interest, opinions on timely or controversial topics, and news of activities and events initiated by Reach for Success members. 


For those who are new to the island or visiting, RFS is a non-for profit organization  which is dedicated to providing advanced education and/or educational support for deserving students who are interested in broadening their goals and "reaching for  success." The group meets after school several times a week and was founded by Carmen Portela Weir, the  director, who was raised in Vieques and educated at Hunter College, in NYC. Assisting Carmen are able volunteers such as Kerry Collins from New Jersey, Dale and Patricia who are retired teachers , Pete and Mary Haab who are dedicated to teaching English , and many other volunteers like Andy and Cathy Plesser who have devoted time whenever they can to offer workshops which are meaningful and interesting to the kids.  


Andy has made a video which will be shown in New York at a fundraising party on March 4th, while Dr Plesser spoke to the group about her NY radiology practice and many fields such as engineering and pharmacology which are related to medicine. The fundraiser is being planned by another volunteer from NY, Millie Pachenko who is a social worker at Rikers Island Prison and who believes the kids in Vieques need all the help they can get. Tickets are  $65.00 per person and are available upon request. (Call Freya Block  @ 917-669-0055 or e - mail:  freyablockdesign@gmail.com.


Other activities which are being planned include a  2 day field trip to Mayaguez University and a museum in Ponce. Twenty kids will participate in this event thanks to a grant from the Government of PR, Department of Education. Also being planned in Vieques, is a car wash and bake sale, and a fund raising drive to help the people of Haiti. 


Meanwhile, Brenda Torres is working with students from the Roosevelt Elementary School and partnering 6th graders in workshops with RFS to study health care. Migdalia Gishard a social worker at Playa Grande Elementary School and staff member of  RFS has been invaluable in helping seniors navigate their way through college applications and financial aid. An annual scholarship drive will enable deserving students to receive a partial scholarship to a college of their choice. Students with such diverse interests as physical therapy, animal care, hospitality and environmental sciences will receive stipends depending upon financial need.


This brings us to the most pressing question so far: With all of these services being provided for the youth of Vieques at no additional cost, why has REACH FOR SUCCESS been denied a home of its own? Currently the computer labs have needed to be suspended and recreational programs have been minimized. The group goes from week to week using private residences, restaurants or the plaza whenever possible, but a permanent space has not yet become available. If anyone knows of a storefront or home with outdoor space that would be safe and convenient to the schools, please contact Carmen Portela  at 787-243-1352.


The success and continuation of this vital program depends on the support of the community. Please do your part to insure that this work can continue. Volunteers and new students are always welcome.  



FEBRUARY 2011



VOLUNTEERS GET TO KNOW  ISLAND KIDS


The beginning of this year has been a busy time for Chuck Tephner, a part time resident of Vieques and a  former  publishing entrepreneur from Connecticut. Chuck and his wife Sandy have been coming to Vieques for many years and have been actively involved in the social and political activities of the island  for most of their time here.


This year, Chuck has volunteered to supervise a group of students from Reach for Success, who feel that their voices need to be heard by the community and are willing to learn and devote their time and efforts to  produce a newsletter for the island. The bi-lingual free newsletter will  offer interviews with individuals of interest, opinions on timely or controversial topics, and news of activities and events initiated by Reach for Success members. Among the many challenges faced by Chuck is teaching the concept of "timeliness" and responsibility.  Despite the enthusiasm and ambition of the students, teaching these concepts require time and patience.


For those who are new to the island or visiting, RFS is a non-for profit organization  which is dedicated to providing advanced education and/or educational support for deserving students who are interested in broadening their goals and "reaching for  success." The group meets after school several times a week and was founded by Carmen Portela Weir, the  director, who was raised in Vieques and educated at Hunter College, in NYC. Assisting Carmen are able volunteers such as Kerry Collins from New Jersey, Dale and Patricia who are retired teachers who are dedicated to teaching English , and many other volunteers like Andy and Cathy Plesser who have devoted time whenever they can to offer workshops which are meaningful and interesting to the kids.  


Last month a video was made which will be shown in New York at a fundraising party on March 4th, while Dr Plesser spoke to the group about her NY radiology practice and many fields such as engineering and pharmacology which are related to medicine. The fundraiser is being planned by another volunteer from NY, Millie Pachenko who is a social worker at Rikers Island Prison and who believes the kids in Vieques need all the help they can get. Tickets are  $65.00 per person and are available upon request. (Call Freya Block  @ 917-669-0055 or e - mail:  freyablockdesign@gmail.com.


Other activities which are being planned include a  2 day field trip to Mayaguez University and a museum in Ponce. Twenty kids will participate in this event thanks to a grant from the Government of PR, Department of Education. Also being planned in Vieques, is a car wash and bake sale, and a fund raising drive to help the people of Haiti. 


Meanwhile, Brenda Torres is working with students from the Roosevelt Elementary School and partnering 6th graders in workshops with RFS to study health care. Migdalia ------ a social worker at -----------and staff member of  RFS has been invaluable in helping seniors navigate their way through college applications and financial aid. An annual scholarship drive will enable deserving students to receive a partial scholarship to a college of their choice. Students with such diverse interests as physical therapy, animal care, hospitality and environmental sciences will receive stipends depending upon financial need. Donors can also select students who are studying in a  field of particular interest and mentor them throughout their college careers.


This brings us to the most pressing question so far: With all of these services being provided for the youth of Vieques at no additional cost, why has REACH FOR SUCCESS been denied a home of its own? Currently the computer labs have needed to be suspended and recreational programs have been minimized. A 4 week summer program which was being planned is on hold and may need to be cancelled.The group goes from week to week using private residences, restaurants or the plaza whenever possible, but a permanent space has not yet become available.. If anyone knows of a storefront or home with outdoor space that would be safe and convenient to the schools, please contact Carmen Portela  at 787-243-1352.


The success and continuation of this vital program depends on the support of the community. Please do you part to insure that that  this work can continue. Volunteers and new students are always welcome. Please visit the web site at reachforsuccess.org. for more information.



AUGUST 2010


Dear Friends,

Last weekend the W Hotel hosted a gala fundraising event for Vieques residents, hotel guests and friends. The Taste of the Islands was an overwhelming success with the proceeds going to REACH for SUCCESS.


Superlatives such as “fantastic,” “amazing” and “sensational” were words heard to describe the beauty of the new hotel, the quality of the food which was donated by Vieques restaurants and chefs from San Juan, and the music which kept people dancing till early morning. One long time resident said, “There has never been anything like this on Vieques!”


Needless to say, Reach For Success is thrilled and honored to be the recipient of such an event. One measure of its success is the fact that the W has already committed to doing it again next August with an even bigger venue which would be extended over several days to accommodate those who were not able to attend or participate.


The other exciting news is that Mayor Delarme is giving Reach a home of its own! The new space will be in the arts building located on the Plaza and will open 5 days a week for students 12-18. Programs will include computer and English classes, tutorial and  psychological counseling, photography, art, writing and sports. In addition, several restaurants have offered internships to students who are Interested in learning culinary expertise and hospitality training.


The profits from the Taste and your generous donations will continue to provide these

excellent services as well as enable us to hire a small dedicated staff which will supplement the many wonderful volunteers who have already done so much to help Reach survive.


As Reach graduates return from college to mentor younger students still in Vieques, we recognize all their accomplishments and their growth. The first group of students to receive scholarships from Reach will graduate from college this year. Some will go on to graduate school or elsewhere, while others will come back to Vieques and use their skills to contribute to the island. In either case, it is your continued support which has made this possible, and truly made a difference in the lives of our youth.


Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Sincerely,


Freya Block and Carmen Portela, Director

REACH FOR SUCCESS



FEBRUARY 2010

REACH REACHES OUT AGAIN


Three years ago Reach for Success began its working with high school students who wanted to pursue their dreams. When they were asked what they wanted to do after they graduated from high school, most of them replied that they wanted to become models or movie stars.


How times have changed! After providing 35 students with scholarships, RFS is now working with ten more motivated seniors who aspire to being an electrical engineer, an industrial engineer, a radiologist, a nurse, nuclear physiologist, a designer of trucks, a lawyer, a physical therapist, a detective and an architect.


This month, with the help of several wonderful volunteers who will be teaching English, offering psychological support, a ceramic workshop and academic tutorials, RFS plans to be open five days a week.  Besides offering activities and cultural enrichment, Reach for Success offers alternative choices for children who are susceptible to the pressures of drug and alcohol use, which is unfortunately prevalent throughout the island.


This month, the lease is on our present premises expires and the owner of the former Blue Crab has generously donated the space on a temporary basis, until a permanent location can be completed. Although this will help greatly to reduce monthly operating costs, REACH for Success is dedicated to continuing its programs to help it’s youth.

Even in this economy, we rely exclusively on the community and friends to endow our scholarship fund so their goals can be realized.


An unexpected donation of $2,000, which was raised by a group of teachers and correction officers in NYC, kicked off RFS’s fourth scholarship drive to raise $2,000 for our deserving seniors. Several partial scholarships have already been received, so the drive is on!  In addition, there are two students who are strong candidates for scholarships at the Hotchkiss School Portals Program this summer. Registration, transportation and application fees are also needed for these promising students.


Speaking of transportation, RFS wants to thank Vieques Airlines for supplying free air tickets for two of our dedicated psychologists who spend 2-3 days a week in Vieques serving the entire Vieques community and for setting an example for other service industries who are able to provide “in kind” contributions.


Again, RFS offers gratitude and thanks to all who have offered support and donations and who enable our special students to succeed.



JANUARY 2010

A SHORT STORY


While discussing recent events occurring at REACH, I was told about a student who was missing his front teeth and suffered from depression, low self esteem and lack of confidence. Unbeknownst to the rest of us, a Board member took it upon himself to transport the student to the mainland and provide him with a new set of teeth. When last seen the boy was experimenting with new found social success and ambition.


This story is merely one of many which epitomizes what Reach For Success is all about. It is about helping students who have dreams, aspirations and hopes to overcome their fears and inhibitions. It is about offering encouragement and possibilities  to overcome  what may seem impossible. And it is about learning to expand one’s experience and develop the potential to become the best that one can.


RFS is a non-profit organization that believes in the youth of Vieques and will do whatever it takes to help those who deserve it. We all know that it takes a village to raise a child and that the best investment we can make is in educating our youngsters The success with which we enable students to reach their goals depends on people who volunteer their time and skills to help them.

Many individuals who have pledged to speak to the group about their own careers and passions return again and again because they feel they receive more than they have given. Recently, some new role models including a chef and owner of a new restaurant, several administrators from the W hotel, and local artists and entrepreneurs have offered to share their experiences with our kids.


Stories of the struggles, challenges and success of RFS have also touched the heart of several groups of  New Yorkers from various backgrounds. These include educators, correction officers, retirees and business people who are committed to spreading the word to Latino agencies and institutions who are willing and able to offer support for REACH. They have organized the first fundraiser which will benefit Reach for Success  in NYC on January 6th.  Anyone who would like to attend or make a contribution are welcome and can call Freya Block at 917-361-6355 or contact freyablock@att.net for more information.


Meanwhile, here in Vieques, the municipality is working with Reach to help find a space where the work we have begun can continue to thrive and grow. The two gifted psychologists from Maya Ouest who were hired by Reach are now serving clients referred to us by the Department of Families, Health and Education. There is not enough space in our existing center to service our own students who have been deprived of their facility and activities and provide the community the help it needs as well. If you know of an appropriate and safe place which would be accessible and available to Reach, please contact Carmen Portela at 747-243-1342 or viequescarmen@hotmail.com.



MAY 2009


Reach is proud to announce that Jade Corcino was accepted into a six week summer Environmental Studies program at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut for summer 2009. Jade, who is 13 years old, has been fortunate enough to be home schooled and has exhibited an independence, curiosity and maturity which made her a desirable candidate for this highly competitive and creditable school. Financial Aid will be available for Jade to pursue her interest in the world around her.