It’s been almost a year since Hurricane Maria decimated the Island of Puerto Rico.  The recovery has been steady but slow, with the hurricane’s impact still most noticeable in remote areas.

It’s difficult to imagine what wind gusts of over 200 mph feel like. Though, your imagination quickly connects the dots when you see steel crumpled into a pile of rubble or cement pilons ripped from the earth.

After 11 months, the island of Puerto Rico and its resilient inhabitants have risen to face the reconstruction challenges under very difficult circumstances. I had the opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico and participate in a service trip with the AT&T Hispanic Employee Resource Group, HACEMOS.

The idea for the service trip came from a desire, passion and commitment to do more. AT&T employees from Colorado, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico came together to provide much needed “helping hands and boots on the ground” for Puerto Rican communities.

In the mountains, by the sea, and at the outskirts of San Juan, HACEMOS members and their families joined forces to make a difference.

Nearly a week and 6 service projects later, we helped almost 1,000 families. We restored and repurposed a school into homes for victims of domestic violence. We distributed clothing, essential goods, school supplies, and water filters. We even joined our DIRECTV team to build a library for a middle school.

Seeing our impact and the gratitude of the local community was a rewarding experience. As we enter National Preparedness Month, I hope you’ll help your community prepare for natural disasters.