Passing on the success
Historian Joseph Harrison Flores donates $5,000 from sales of his book on Grito de Lares figure to nonprofit that serves island homeless
By Richard Gutiérrez
Books are still quite popular in today’s modern video streaming era. In 2022, the estimated net revenue of the U.S. book publishing industry amounted to $28.1 billion, according to Statista.com.
Most people who write books, however, don’t really make a lot of money at it. While self-publishing authors can make 60% in royalties, most authors will only make 10% in royalties and even though books still make a significant amount of money in the U.S., they make nowhere near the amount of money other entertainment industries make.
It seems this is not a problem for historian Joseph Harrison Flores, who donated $5,000 to the nonprofit organization Solo Por Hoy (which was the subject of a previous STAR report), all from the earnings from a book he wrote titled “La Identidad de Brazo de Oro” (The Identity of Golden Arm) which retells the story of a historic event on the island: the Lares rebellion, known locally as “Grito de Lares.” The donation was made on the eve of the commemoration of the Lares rebellion, which took place on Sept. 23, 1868 and was the first major uprising against Spanish rule in Puerto Rico.
With the book, Harrison Flores set out to correct certain historical facts associated with the Lares rebellion. But more than simply shedding light on historical events, it seems the success of the book will have an impact on the lives of homeless people in Puerto Rico, considering that’s a big part of the population that Solo Por Hoy works with, as well as impact many other vulnerable communities.
“This donation to Solo Por Hoy grows out of the respect I have for its executive director, Belinda Hill, a fighter and hard-working woman who works for the well-being of vulnerable communities in Puerto Rico,” Harrison Flores said after handing the donation to Hill. “The best use for this money from the proceeds of my book, which is also about a brave woman, is for Solo Por Hoy to have it. If I can help the community through this organization, I will help them.”
Among the most vulnerable populations that Solo Por Hoy serves in some 24 municipalities in the northern region of the island are families that don’t have a home. The organization helps families and individuals who are low on resources and in deep crisis situations. The nonprofit’s scope isn’t limited to homelessness, however. It also helps those who are going through domestic abuse, substance abuse and mental health challenges, as well as people with disabilities. Solo Por Hoy provides services annually to around 3,000 families who are homeless or at risk or losing their home, they provide emergency shelter and permanent shelter as well.
Hill thanked Harrison Flores for the monetary donation as well as the gift of the book.
“Joseph is a great friend of many years, who has a history of serving communities as well as [serving as] a financial and government consultant,” Hill said. “I receive the donation on behalf of the homeless or those whom we serve who are at risk of losing their housing.”
Harrison Flores currently directs the National Digital Archive of Puerto Rico (adnpr.net), where the documents on which his historical review of the Lares rebellion is based can be accessed. “This book has great meaning for the island by identifying the true figure of Brazo de Oro, who sewed and embroidered the flag of the Republic in The Lares Rebellion,” the author said. “Contrary to traditional belief, Brazo de Oro is not the mythical character of Mariana Bracety, but Eduviges Beauchamp. Eduviges was a courageous woman, a fighter, who worked for a better Puerto Rico. At the same time, during part of her life she was a woman who was abused by her husband. Despite that experience, she went on with her life, with her ideals. When her husband died, she was able to recover, continue working and moving forward, attracting followers to the revolution.”
Hill added how pleased she was to have someone like Harrison Flores in her network.
“When Harrison explained the reason as to why he donated the money to our organization, I shed tears,” she told the STAR. “He is an excellent collaborator and I’m extremely grateful for his help to us. He doesn’t only help us -- quietly he also helps other people and organizations. From my experience I can tell you that he’s been a great help to Solo Por Hoy and to many others around the island as well.”