Do you like helping your community? Does helping others give you a feeling of instant gratification? If the answers to these questions are yes, then the Interact Club is the club for you! Interact Club is a community service club sponsored by the Nantucket Rotary Club. Our main focus is helping out others and supporting non-profit organizations. The club’s advisor is NPS curriculum director, Michael Horton. The officers are: Nathan Maurer (president), Maeve Cawley (vice-president), Joshua Harding (secretary), and Deshawn Burton (treasurer).
Already this year we have extended the Clean Team’s calendar into the winter months by cleaning up island beaches on Saturday mornings from 9am – 10am, we wrapped gifts for Inky Santa, and boxed up used math textbooks to be sent to needy schools. Recently, our focus has moved to addressing a challenge that has lingered for over a year: rebuilding Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in the fall of 2017.
Hurricane Maria was the most devastating storm to make landfall on Puerto Rico in 89 years. It left many people without homes, clean water, and electricity; the recovery has been slow as infrastructure was already in need of upgrades before the storm. Many cities still haven’t had enough resources to reopen their schools, businesses, and other services that NHS students take for granted. Many professionals and skilled workers left Puerto Rico for Florida for steady work. It may be years before they have enough incentive to return.
To start our year, we were approached by Carlos Castrello, the founder of Nantucket Cares, the Hurricane Maria relief effort. We watched a video Carlos produced with Tom McCann and heard about schools that still haven’t reopened and are desperate for supplies. We boxed up math textbooks that weren’t being used at NHS to ship to Puerto Rico schools. Island Variety also donated school supplies to send along with our heavy boxes of books. Now, we have decided to take an even bigger step and have planned a trip to visit Puerto Rico over February break. During the stay, we are scheduled to help schools set-up computer labs, rebuild playgrounds, and clean up and paint parks. Castrello has also arranged for us to meet with the Puerto Rico secretary of education and visit four schools that need help rebuilding. A local Rotary Club has offered to host our group of 14 students and four chaperones for lunch.
To help us raise money for this cause, we have planned a dance-a-thon at the Nantucket Intermediate School on Wednesday, February 13. This is the second year of this event that was created by fifth grade teacher, Jen Lewis, last year. 2017 proceeds helped found Nantucket Cares. This year, the funds raised will cover travel and lodging expenses for the Interact Club’s trip to Puerto Rico over February break. Any additional funds will be spent on computers, playground equipment, sports equipment, and school supplies.
Please consider sponsoring a 3rd, 4th, or 5th grader for the dance-a-thon. Students will be asking for pledges over the next two weeks leading up to the dance. We ask for the help of the community to raise money for this great cause. Our goal is $10,000. Ken Beaugrand, president of the Nantucket Rotary Club, was able to gain the support of Rotary to match up to $10,000 raised to help support the Interact Club. This money would help to rebuild Puerto Rican schools and improve the lives of Puerto Rican students.
For any questions on how you can help, please contact the Interact Club advisor, Michael Horton, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be thrilled to receive any help to make our trip happen.
Future projects by the Interact Club will include homework help for younger students and assisting the elderly with odd jobs or dump runs. Beach clean-ups will continue into the spring. Please reach out to Mr. Horton or Bill Connell from the Clean Team for a monthly schedule.
By Maryann Vasquez-Cruz