Adalberto, known in the community as “El Mudo,” was in need of help. His home was devastated by Hurricane Maria, and since then, he has been living with broken windows, mold, crumbling ceilings and walls, and, in some parts of his home, no roof. The metal roof over his son’s bedroom and the kitchen had blown away completely.
Born deaf, Adalberto’s own way of communicating made it hard for him to clearly ask for help. He keeps documents and photos of the damages to be able to show us how his home looked just days after the storm. As a valued member of the community, he is appreciated for his kindness and has been recognized with plaques several times for his volunteering work in Martorell’s baseball fields.
After assessing his home, the first team to start work on Moctezuma’s home was the CGI Team. This team specializes in building roofs out of corrugated galvanized iron sheets and wooden structures. They removed the rusted untreated sheets that were strapped with wires and tape and started reinforcing and building a new structure to mount the new CGI sheets onto.
Samantha Garley is a sign language interpreter. She accompanied Lizette, the Program Assessor, in the assessment of the home. Garley observed that Adalberto’s method of communicating is not formal sign language; he uses simple gestures, and a lot of guessing goes into having a conversation with him. Garley feels she has a special attachment to Adalberto and wanted to be a part of working on his home, so she joined the team.
Mars Simpson lives in Seattle and works as an ecology focused landscape designer. He said he ran into many challenges while working on Adalberto’s home, including communicating with the homeowner, but he admits it has been gratifying. He describes the preexisting work as “not being up to code.” In order to make this roof resilient, they had to repair and reinforce the existing building. It takes extra time, but it will ensure it can withstand hurricane winds.
Simpson also volunteered with All Hands and Hearts on St. John, USVI, mostly in critical repair and interior work, installing floors, etc. His dad taught him the skills he needed to build a roof and repair homes. He worked with his dad, who was a career builder and is happy to put his skills to good use. “My dad always told me, you never know when you’ll need these skills, and he was right.”
Laura Valles is from Spain and works as an architect. She has vast experience fixing and restoring buildings. A few months ago, she worked as a volunteer in France, restoring a Castle. She was quick to design a way to fix Adalberto’s roof using an application called “Revit” - an AutoCAD alternative for architects. The team is in awe of her skills in designing practical solutions for them to build and repair this home.
Greg Rea came to Puerto Rico last year for vacation and saw many homes in need of repair. He has been volunteering in Yabucoa for three days. When asked about his building skills, he said he considers himself an above-average handy guy; being a homeowner for over 20 years has taught him how to fix things. In his free time, he also likes to fix cars. Rea has three sons and was touched by Adalberto’s situation, “helping to rebuild so his son can come back home and stay in a decent bedroom, that touched me a little bit. We’re doing good work for good people”.
Rea loves efficiency and likes how motivated and organized everyone on the Yabucoa Program is. “It is a productive and warm culture on base.”
John Thompson is a site supervisor for All Hands and Hearts. “The first day on this Jobsite I noticed the roof on the back was held on by electrical cables and random wires; it seemed like somebody tried to help him - we don’t know. I was excited to work on this house because of my hearing loss issues; [Adalberto] being deaf makes this a special project for me”. Thompson has been in Yabucoa for seven weeks; before Puerto Rico, he worked with All Hands and Hearts in Houston, St. Thomas, and Mexico. Thompson is an adventure seeker and works as a Raft Guide back home in Alaska. He likes to move to wherever the rafting season is. “I like to sharpen pencils when I need to think,” he mentioned as he sharpened a small stub of a pencil. As soon as his team completes the CGI work, a concrete sealing team, critical repair team, and sanitation team will complete the house, ensuring Adalberto is able to enjoy his home worry-free.
Coincidently, Moctezuma’s home was the 400th cement roof repaired and sealed by the All Hands and Hearts volunteers in Yabucoa. There are hundreds of families that need assistance in securing their homes. Help Yabucoa residents by contributing with a donation today.