May Updates

We launched a new sanitation project, resumed a few old ones, and added more great people to our team. Read on to learn more!

Executive Summary

  • Hand-washing initiative underway: we officially launched a new initiative to provide proper hand-washing facilities to communities lacking daily water access. Special thanks to those who donated on Giving Tuesday to fund our initial pilot purchase of 30 stations!
  • 200 water filters distributed: after a big May, our initiative with Constanza Medical Mission has now provided over 200 families with access to clean drinking water!
  • 20 new bathrooms approved: we kicked off construction for 20 more bathrooms in El Canal, which will bring us to a total of 80 bathrooms completed since the project was launched last year
  • Our team is growing: we've hired a few new people, and are looking to hire more! Meet our newest team members below, and reach out if you know someone else we should bring onboard
  • Fighting COVID by getting huge: our partners at Health Outreach Foundation are organizing a "Million Lb. Challenge" for this Saturday, where we'll be exercising to raise money for PPE in Constanza & La Vega. Learn more here get involved as a sponsor or lifter!

Sanitation Projects Launched & Renewed

Pictured: a Wine to Water hand-washing station. Puente has purchased and distributed 30 of these units, and we're hoping to do more soon!
With Covid-19 continuing to spread in the DR, sanitation is more important now than ever. That's why we're resuming our work to keep communities clean and healthy, while instituting new safety protocol for all project participants. The educational seminars (covering hygiene, household cleanliness, and more) that correspond to each project will now be delivered via YouTube. Construction sites (typically just a family home) will be limited to four people or less at any given time. We're once again grateful to have Crismary Gutierrez running the show in Constanza, as she did an excellent job rethinking our project workflows and communicating the "new normal" to everyone involved.

As for the projects themselves:
  • Hand-washing stations: as we described here, marginalized communities have heard the world's advice to wash hands frequently, but some are struggling to follow it. The main reason? Water access. According to our surveys, 58% of households in Constanza receive water less than three days per week (including 17% with access once a week or less). It's impossible to wash hands without the proper supplies, so we're proud to be launching a new initiative that provides hand-washing stations to those most in need. These stations, pictured above and made by our friends at Wine to Water, can be refilled whenever water is available and used on days when the water is shut-off. We distributed the first 30 stations last week, and residents are already clamoring for more -- stay tuned as we expand this program alongside the other W.A.S.H. initiatives discussed below!
  • Bathrooms: we began construction on 20 new bathrooms in the community of El Canal last week, funded by a generous grant from our partners at Friends of the Dominican Republic. These latest units bring us to a total of 80 bathrooms built throughout Constanza in the first year of our program -- an impressive total for year one! El Canal in particular is proving to be a great example of Puente's W.A.S.H. impact, as we've installed 30 bathrooms, 9 cement floors, and 14 ceramic water filters in the community. All these initiatives tie together to create a more sanitary, healthy, and enjoyable living environment for everyone in El Canal.
  • Water Filters: our joint initiative with Constanza Medical Mission reached a new milestone last week -- we've now distributed over 200 filters in Constanza since the project began last year! This ongoing program is a testament to Puente's goal of "being the bridge", as we've leveraged our survey data and volunteer network to distribute filters produced locally by Wine to Water and subsidized financially by CMM. We view it as another great example of why collecting good data, and empowering community leaders, can make all the difference in international development.

It goes without saying, but all these projects are made possible by the continued support of our amazing donors and partners. We can't thank you enough for all your contributions and encouragement, especially during #GivingTuesdayNow. We've raised over $11,000 since asking for your help a few weeks ago -- an overwhelming total that vastly exceeded our expectations -- and can still raise more under the matching funds program! Donations through this campaign are still being matched, so please click below to help us make the most of this opportunity.
Donate Now

Growing Our Team

Pictured: Tiven Buggy helps the Duran Jimenez family construct a rainwater collection system in Constanza (summer 2019).
As you read above, Puente's W.A.S.H. (Water Access, Sanitation & Hygiene) impact has continued to snowball since we began with a few bathrooms in Los Gajitos last year. We view these initiatives as extremely impactful, and our surveys indicate that there is still lots of work to be done.

With that in mind, we're excited to announce that Tiven Buggy has joined Puente as our W.A.S.H. Director. Tiven is an impossibly perfect fit for this role -- he lived in the DR for two years as Peace Corps Volunteer before returning to the US to earn his Masters in Environmental Engineering from UC Davis. He also spent last summer interning with us in Constanza, where he designed may of the W.A.S.H. programs we've kept alive since. Tiven's involvement will allow us to expand these important programs, launch new (and more complex) initiatives, and generally accomplish more in the DR and beyond.

We're also expanding our tech team to improve Puente's mobile data collection platform while surveys remain on pause. Our new-and-improved platform will include features that enable contactless collection and maintenance of data at scale, making it far more useful in pandemic scenarios like this one. We're excited to provide more details as development continues, but we need more talented engineers and developers onboard to move quickly. If you or anyone you know might be interested in working with our tech team, please reach out -- we have paid and volunteer positions available.

Our latest hires on the tech side have already been contributing in a big way. Joseph McCombs recently joined us as a Data Engineer to develop APIs improving the platform's performance and functionality. Joey has exceeded all the ambitious goals we set for his first few months aboard, and we hope he sticks around for many months to come. Chance Murphy is leading our web development efforts, and we're excited to share more about his work in the coming weeks. Mike Mullaney (who produced this amazing video for us back in 2018) has returned to help us design a more informative and aesthetically pleasing site. We'd be delighted to connect you with either of these talented freelancers if you need help with web development/design, videography, animations, etc. going forward.

Finally, we're grateful that Matt Albano is now serving as Puente's pro-bono Chief Accounting Officer. Matt has an accounting degree from Notre Dame and previously worked with large nonprofit clients at a Big 4 firm in NYC. Thanks to Matt for donating time and expertise to help the cause!

Million Pound Challenge (for PPE)

Pictured: Dominican healthcare professionals receiving washable masks from Puente earlier this month.
This weekend, we're joining our longtime partners from Health Outreach Foundation to lift ONE MILLION POUNDS in the name of PPE. The challenge takes place on Saturday -- here's how it works:
  • Participants from HOF, Puente and beyond will exercise more than usual on Saturday and track the total number of pounds they manage to lift
  • Sponsors (possibly you!) can pledge to donate a certain dollar amount per pound lifted
    • For example: if you pledge $0.25 per lb. and Paul matches his personal record on the bench press (100 lbs x 1 rep), you'd donate $25
  • All donations will be used to purchase more PPE for the under-equipped medical professionals fighting Covid-19 in Constanza and La Vega
We know that PPE is badly needed in these healthcare facilities, so please consider joining HOF's challenge as an athlete or sponsor! The day will also include interactive live streams, happy hours, etc. (via Zoom) that you won't want to miss, including a Q&A with Puente volunteers at 5:30pm ET. Learn more and register using the link below, and reach out directly if you have any questions.
Learn More & Register
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