The Transylvania Times -

By Matt McGregor
Staff Writer 

Thanksgiving Trip To Puerto Rico 'Putting Gratitude In Action' -Brevard NC


November 23, 2017

Kiersten Wilbur and John Pate will spend Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico. (Times photo by Matt McGregor)

"Putting gratitude in action" is how Kiersten Wilbur describes her Thanksgiving plans to go to Puerto Rico.

She left with boyfriend John Pate Tuesday night for the island to assist the Teacher's Federation of Puerto Rico, a union of teachers, who are helping with recovery from the devastation Hurricane Maria that took place in September.

"We are basically supporting the federation with whatever they need help with," said Wilbur, who is originally from Alaska.

She was a volunteer in the Peace Corps for two years in Peru, and now works as a program coordinator at Mountain Roots, Inc.

Wilbur also volunteers with El Centro, a nonprofit organization that assists in improving the lives of Hispanics by integrating them into the community.

"As soon as I moved here I started volunteering with El Centro to continue volunteering with the Hispanic community, and they've been wanting to do some kind of support for Puerto Rico, but they weren't really sure how to do that, so it was kind of serendipitous that we decided to go," Wilbur said.

Wilbur then asked Rodrigo Vargas, executive director of El Centro, to help in raising funds and supplies for their trip.

"They've been incredibly supportive in getting supplies and donations," Wilbur said.

Pate and Wilbur will be in Puerto Rico for four days and will be staying with a family there, said Pate, who studies wilderness leadership at Brevard College.

"Once we are there, we will be supported entirely by the Teacher's Federation," Pate said.

Pate said the Teacher's Federation of Puerto Rico has been distributing supplies to Puerto Rico in the absence of any other organized efforts.

"We are bringing supplies with us on the plane and will distribute them when we get there," Pate said. "Delta gave us a 'humanitarian discount.'"

Along with his sister from Nashville, Charlotte Pate, and six other people, he said their "Solidarity Brigade" has its own crowd-funding page at


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2017