Nonprofits promote sewing jobs in Loíza

By John McPhaul

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, 18 women who reside in Loíza were able to finish a course in creative needlework and at the same time contribute to the response to the public health emergency by producing protective masks.

The course was made possible through a donation from the Community Foundation of Puerto Rico (FCPR by its Spanish initials) to Connecting Paths PR Inc., a non-profit organization directed at promoting economic activation through self-starting solidarity businesses.

On Thursday, the participants received sewing machines and a certification for having completed the creative sewing program course through Connecting Paths PR, which is committed to the social uplift of economically disadvantaged communities.

The women attended 22 classes over nine months, learning to create masks and handbags designed by James de Colón. The initiative also had the collaboration of the Municipality of Loíza and of the Del Valle ACI Church, where the classes were held. Amid the pandemic, the program was able to generate five temporary jobs related to the production of masks, thanks to subcontractors.

In addition, all of the participants designed masks as part of the practice with the goal of donating them, said Mabel Lassalle, founder and CEO of Connecting Paths PR.

In addition to Loíza, the creative sewing curriculum has been offered since 2018 in the remote communities of Adjuntas and Jayuya. Of the 18 graduates, six have expressed interest in developing micro-businesses in the industry. In the long term, the program aims to create a collective business, service cooperative or worker-owned corporation.

The participants also received workshops on socio-emotional skills.

“The mission of the FCPR is to develop the capacities of the communities through the promotion of community human capital and with this initiative we are contributing to that goal,” said FCPR President and CEO Dr. Nelson I. Colón Tarrats. “The human, social, physical capital and finances [of the participants] have been significantly impacted through this program, as they learned new skills, connected with each other, generated income, and received sewing machines to continue developing and promoting solidarity business self-management in Loíza.”

The FCPR is also developing other racial equity and community recovery initiatives in Loíza, thanks to the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The initiatives seek to contribute to the comprehensive well being of children, youth and families from Loíza. Areas of attention include access to safe housing, potable water, renewable energy, economic development, academic and psycho-emotional support, and disruption of the chain of violence.

Since 2014, Connecting Paths PR has had as its mission to create transformational personal, social and community experiences through educational services, social-emotional skills training, community resilience, and community and social entrepreneurship for economically disadvantaged populations. In particular, it seeks to boost the needlework industry.

The FCPR is a non-profit organization that for 35 years has advised individuals, families, corporations and foundations inside and outside the island on how to channel their philanthropic concerns.

The counseling seeks to allow the donor contributions to have an impact on the self-development of Puerto Rico residents.

In addition, the FCPR strategic plan promotes equitable and sustainable access to drinking water, renewable energy, housing, economic development and education.

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