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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

A moment of joy in times of extreme heat

Dozens of fathers who have lived through the experience of homelessness spent a good portion of the day Friday at a community center where they enjoyed lunch, motivational speeches, karaoke open mic and even gifts, all provided by La Fondita de Jesús.

Nonprofit that assists the homeless celebrates Father’s Day

By Richard Gutiérrez

Special to The Star

Late last week, La Fondita de Jesús, a nonprofit organization that focuses primarily on helping the homeless and needy by providing clothing, food, housing, education resources and even medical care for vulnerable communities, celebrated Father’s Day at a local activity center in the Barrio Gandul neighborhood of Santurce.

Dozens of fathers who have lived through the experience of homelessness arrived at the community center early Friday to enjoy lunch, motivational speeches, karaoke open mic and even gifts, all provided by La Fondita de Jesús.

“Sharing and celebrating with our participants is something that fills us with joy and excitement, especially because La Fondita de Jesús is a safe place and we receive these folks with lots of love,” said Josué Maysonet, the executive director of La Fondita de Jesús. “Today we wish a happy Father’s Day to all fathers and especially our participants.”

La Fondita de Jesús had a full house starting early in the morning for the Father’s Day activity, which opened with a motivational speech regarding self-esteem. Some of the participants brought up the fact that it can be difficult to maintain healthy self-esteem when others discriminate against them for being homeless and unemployed. Throughout the activity, participants were asked to describe positive things like flowers, the sun and trees and then apply these to themselves, ending the activity with phrases like “I am beautiful,” “I am light” and “I am essential to life.”

The event culminated with a karaoke session in which many showed off their talents as singers. After lunch was provided to the participants, they received their gifts.

With the arrival of summer, and in particular amid the record-breaking heat wave the island has been experiencing over the past couple of weeks, La Fondita de Jesús has stepped up its assistance activities significantly because many people who are homeless are spending a lot more time in the facilities to cool themselves off, apart from bathing and hydrating themselves. “Ever since the extreme heat wave began, we have been receiving between 75 and 90 people on a daily basis, looking for basic needs, due to the heat,” Maysonet told the STAR. “Besides offering the basic needs, we are also providing medical and mental health services that include a doctor and a nurse. Certainly, our facilities have become more than a place where these people receive services for survival; they have also worked as a shelter for the homeless to spend the day and protect themselves from the extreme heat. This has significantly raised the usage of our services, especially showers and clothing.”

“Apart from these extreme heat waves, we are in hurricane season,” he added, “which means all organizations need to be filled to the top with materials and food. There is an urgent need for inventory items and shelter, so organizations like ours must be prepared to have all equipment to manage any hurricane emergency.”

La Fondita de Jesús has been serving the community for nearly 40 years, and has been growing in membership since the 1980s, and awareness regarding its efforts to support the homeless community has become greater thanks to the growth of the organization. The nonprofit describes itself as a “dedicated group of individuals dedicated to transforming the lives of the homeless and those who live in vulnerable communities in Puerto Rico.” On top of those efforts to provide the basic needs of those who are homeless and needy, La Fondita de Jesús also provides activities, like the Father’s Day celebration, to make the people it serves feel included in the broader society.

Anyone who wants to work with La Fondita de Jesús can do so by calling 787-724-4051, or by donating directly through ATH Móvil at path/LaFonditaDeJesús.

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