Salvation Army seeks donations for those affected by Ian, Fiona  

The Salvation Army is preparing resources and personnel to meet the immediate needs of survivors and first responders affected by Hurricane Ian, which made landfall days after Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico, where The Salvation Army is continuing to serve.  

The Salvation Army is positioning resources and personnel to respond to widespread need as efficiently as possible and is seeking support from the local community.  

The organization is also continuing to meet the needs of Hurricane Fiona survivors and first responders in Puerto Rico by providing various items from the mainland to Puerto Rico. Trained Salvation Army emergency response teams are on the ground in with meals, water and other services.  

“Disaster relief is always about the long game; it’s about helping people to get their homes and their communities rebuilt,” said Captain Kathryn Eisley, Rochester Salvation Army Corps Officer. “It’s also about providing long-term emotional and spiritual care to disaster survivors, as sometimes the recovery on the inside can be harder than the recovery on the outside.”  

One hundred percent of designated disaster donations go to direct services for survivors and first responders’ services in Florida and Puerto Rico.  Click here to donate.

[email protected] / (585) 653-4021 

Ibero-American Action League collecting donations for Puerto Rico evacuees

The Ibero-American Action League Inc. has launched an online donation campaign to help those affected by recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico.

Source: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Source: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey

The Rochester not-for-profit already has helped two dozen households who have relocated to Rochester since a magnitude 4.7 earthquake hit southwest Puerto Rico on Dec. 28. Many residents in the affected area remain without electricity, medical aid and other necessities.

Ibero is reconvening the Multi-Agency Resource Center that served thousands of displaced Puerto Ricans escaping Hurricane Maria in 2017. During that crisis, roughly 1,000 people walked through the doors of a five-hour welcome reception the agency held at its Clifford Avenue resource center.

More than 25 Rochester agencies collaborated to help evacuees of the Category 4 hurricane. Ibero is encouraging anyone with friends or family arriving from the devastated U.S. territory to visit the organization’s Stability, Education and Employment Services department. Donations to the campaign can be made at

Ibero was founded in 1968 as a dual-language human services organization that works toward the advancement of the Latino community in Greater Rochester.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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NYSERDA and PathStone part of economic recovery project in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is getting a $4.5 million boost in its economic development arm, with a public-private project aimed at accelerating solar business on the island.

The package involves $3.8 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to train workers in solar energy, as well as energy storage and construction. Additional funds come from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, PathStone, and the Solar Foundation.

The project follows previous efforts by the state, under the leadership of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devastated the island along with much of its power transmission system.

“This collaborative program will equip Puerto Rican businesses and workers with the innovative training and tools necessary to build a more resilient Island that is prepared to face 21st century climate challenges,” said Alicia Barton, CEO and president of NYSERDA.
PathStone, which is based in Rochester but whose economic development programs reach several states and Puerto Rico, “has managed to help hundreds of business owners and individuals in Puerto Rico to improve economic self-sufficiency and quality of life of individuals and communities through entrepreneurial training, technical assistance, financing access as well as workforce development activities,” said Alex Castro, COO of PathStone. The program will operate out of PathStone’s offices in Ponce.

NYSERDA’s $30,000 contribution will help pay for instructors from the State University of New York to train Puerto Rican businesses and workers in the solar field for a year.

Other components of the program include developing a Puerto Rican Solar Accelerator to help improve financing, create a workforce pipeline and develop two solar and storage microgrid demonstration projects.  Additionally, the program provides technical assistance to indigenous businesses so they can play a role in the redevelopment of Puerto Rico.

[email protected]/(585) 363-7275

Rochester entrepreneur’s idea brings power relief to Puerto Rico

David Rodriguez wasn’t looking for a business opportunity when he went to check on his property and visit relatives in Puerto Rico last December following Hurricane Maria.

David Rodriguez (Photo courtesy of RIT)
David Rodriguez (Photo courtesy of RIT)

Rodriguez, a native of Puerto Rico who grew up in Buffalo, is president and CEO of Council Rock Enterprises, a Rochester company that designs solar-powered remote operating systems for utility fixtures such as oil wells or substations. With his electrical engineering experience, though, he couldn’t help coming up with a solution for what he saw as a dangerous situation during his visit to the devastated island.

An octogenarian uncle of Rodriguez’s was using a gas-powered generator inside his house to keep lights and his refrigerator on during the lengthy power outages after the mega-storm. Running a gas-powered generator indoors can cause deadly carbon-monoxide poisoning, but the older man felt he had no choice. Leaving the device in his driveway might have allowed it to be stolen, and the only other available location for the generator outside was difficult for him to reach.

“The dangers of carbon monoxide are enormous,” said Bill Platt, a disaster specialist for the American Red Cross who works with the Greater Rochester Area Chapter. Virtually every disaster he works on, he said, someone is sickened or dies because of carbon monoxide poisoning related to a generator that runs on fossil fuels.

While still in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez called a staffer at Council Rock and asked for a price list of the elements needed to build a generator large enough to operate the basics in an emergency situation. “The wheels started turning,” Rodriguez said.  He promised to stop his quest if he ran into roadblocks, but none have arisen yet.

“Instead of running into red flags, I got tremendous support,” he said.

The solar generators already available weren’t satisfactory — some produce only enough electricity to run a radio or charge phones — and Rodriguez felt he could build something better and easier to operate.

He and his staff first did market research by buying every solar-powered generator on the market and testing them. Some are easy to wreck by connecting them incorrectly or drawing too much power, he said. The new company, named inverSOL, wanted to see what happened if they made the typical mistakes on purpose.


“We were successful in destroying all of them,” Rodriguez said.  He wanted something safer. “My direction to the inverSOL team is that no matter what, we must think about our kids or grandparents using the generators, and no one can ever be harmed.”

During the research phase, Rodriguez said he realized building the generators in Upstate New York wasn’t going to work. The cost of shipping a 200-pound device to Puerto Rico would be $1,000, and it would cost another $200 to deliver the generator from the docks to the consumer’s home. That’s more than half the cost of the basic model, which sells for about $2,000.

InverSOL is pretty much a Puerto Rican company now, even though it operates under the Venture Creations umbrella at Rochester Institute of Technology, Rodriguez’s alma mater. Council Rock, a majority owner of inverSOL, is a graduate of the same incubator. An InverSOL manufacturing plant and retail store opened in Puerto Rico last month, employing 15 people.

“There’s a deep manufacturing ecosystem on the island,” Rodriguez said. Despite news of major devastation that continues today, a year after Hurricane Maria, he said the people and materials to make the company go are there.

For now, Rodriguez said, “We’re providing executive support and engineering support from Rochester.”

InverSol’s sales force provides training for consumers to use the generators. Each sale comes with 30 minutes of customer training so the buyers will understand how to operate the systems when they need them. They may also need to understand that they need to run some household appliances at one time and others at another time in order to avoid tripping a circuit breaker.

Rodriguez said the setup in not difficult: “an on-off button and that’s it.” Technical help is available online and in person.  Units sell for $2,000 to $5,000 depending on their features, and there’s no additional cost for fuel.

That training is key, Platt said, as operating generators currently available can be complicated and even dangerous at times. Hooked up to an outside line incorrectly, an emergency generator can cause a power line worker to be electrocuted, he said.

But Platt raved about having a generator that operates on solar power. Finding fuel, having the money to pay for fuel, and finding fuel that hasn’t been compromised by flooding conditions can be insurmountable barriers during a disaster, he said.

“That’s kind of cool that we have a local entrepreneur considering this kind of thing. The fact that he’s creating jobs down in Puerto Rico is even more amazing,” Platt said.

“Whoever this person is, he’s a really smart guy who saw this need and made something of it. I know nothing of the company but I think it’s a really neat idea.”

[email protected]/(585) 363-7275


Pathstone, celebrity bartenders to raise money for Puerto Rico

PathStone Corp. is partnering with a local restaurant to raise money for Puerto Rican victims of Hurricane Maria.

Ten area business and community leaders will serve as celebrity guest bartenders at City Grill Thursday, including Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. Other famous faces include PathStone President and CEO Stuart Mitchell, 13WHAM’s Jennifer Johnson and 10NBC/WHEC’s Samantha LaRocca.

The event will raise funds for PathStone’s Puerto Rico Disaster Recovery Fund and will help rebuild Puerto Rico and the lives of those affected by Hurricane Maria. PathStone also will collect canned and dry goods to be distributed by Ibero American Action League Inc. to families in Rochester who were displaced by the disaster.

The event will be held Jan. 11 from 5 to 8 p.m. in City Grill’s main bar area.

PathStone is a private, nonprofit community development and human service agency serving seven states and Puerto Rico.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021

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