From Locust Valley to San Juan
New York Keystone Club Travels to Puerto Rico to Help Local Community
By Andres Cisneros & Stephanie Canales
Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club (Locust Valley, New York)
The day has come! After months of planning and fundraising, our Keystone Club members went to San Juan, Puerto Rico and we couldn’t be more excited! There were many reasons for this trip, but our main reasons were that we wanted to experience a different culture and help other communities.
When we first arrived in Puerto Rico we were ready to leave the airport and start activities. We were lucky enough that Las Margaritas Boys & Girls Club lent us their club vans so our journey began right away as we traveled the winding roads of Puerto Rico. We spent our first day in the pool and enjoyed the amazing sun and waves of the beach of the Santurce Condado. We ended the night with a great Puerto Rican dinner at a small restaurant close to the hotel.
The next day we had to wake up bright and early because we were an hour drive from our next adventure, ziplining. This was something a lot of us have never done so all of us were really thrilled because we wanted see the stunning views. Some of us were nervous because it was pretty high up, but as a team we encouraged each other and ended up having a great time and strengthened our Keystone’s relationships. Afterward we headed off to Las Margaritas Boys & Girls Club for a tour of their club. It was very inspiring to see the full running pizzeria that their teens operate in their club. They were very generous and made us a couple pies to eat, and it was delicious.
We did two volunteer projects in our time there. Our first was with Habitat for Humanity where we helped renovate an abandoned apartment building for five different families. At all times our whole Keystone Club was being productive. Some of the jobs we had were painting, cement setting, and framing window openings. Some family members who will move into the building were there providing us with water and snacks as well as helping. Our second community service project that we did was a rainforest clean up. This was a really great project because, as we hiked through the rainforest searching for litter, we were also exploring. It was a beautiful experience because there were many spots where we could stop and swim or just admire the view of the waterfall.
Since we were in the rainforest some of us thought it would be funny to drink water from a giant tree leaf, like they do in the movies, which ended up being a great memory. As the day went on and we filled all of our garbage bags with trash we said goodbye to our tour guide and headed to the Iridescent Bay. There we kayaked and learned some of the facts about the bay and played with the glowing water. On our last day we visited Old San Juan, learning the history and shopping for souvenirs for our families.
We are very grateful to the Club for giving us this opportunity to go to Puerto Rico. We are also thankful for our Keystone Advisor and the other Directors that came with us and all of the unforgettable memories we have made as well as the new bonds we have formed within our Keystone.