WNPR

Plane Tickets For Puerto Rico: An Avon Woman's Social Media Mission

Oct 18, 2017

An Avon woman has started a Facebook campaign in her free time to rescue and reunite residents of Puerto Rico with their relatives in Connecticut. She calls it “efficient altruism.”

Carrie Firestone recently moved her workstation to her dining room table so that she could focus more on her writing. She has published two books and she’s working on another, but much of her time now is devoted to a different passion.

“I’m a writer but I’ve always been interested in community service, in how communities come together when there’s a crisis, but also kind of long-term community service—how people lift each other up in constructive ways,” Firestone said.

After Hurricane Harvey hit, she researched area charities in the city of Houston and directed her Facebook friends to join her in making a contribution.

When Maria leveled Puerto Rico, she thought about all of the Puerto Ricans that live in Connecticut not knowing if family members were okay.

And then the idea cooked.

If somehow she could get airplane tickets to those on the island, she could connect them with their loved ones. So again, she reached out to her Facebook friends.

“If anyone is interested in adding tickets, let me know and we’ll do it,” Firestone said. “I didn’t realize I would get such a response, but we had a huge response.”

Firestone said her campaign has raised about $4,000 so far. She’s bought 10 tickets—seven of them with her own money.

“I just got an email from a contact,” Firestone said. “His friend works at a hotel in Puerto Rico and they’re going to close the hotel. And he has until [October 31] to figure out what he’s going to do. It’s his last pay check.”

That’s two more tickets to purchase for the man and his wife.

This story is part of “The Island Next Door,” WNPR’s reporting project about Puerto Rico and Connecticut after Hurricane Maria.