In response to an invitation to speak at Ethical, Abby wrote: “My mom and dad are both from Puerto Rico. My mom is from a little mountain town called Adjuntas. My father is from the coastal city of Mayagüez. They both met here in the 1940s in New York and moved back to Caguas, Puerto Rico in 1975. There are 8 children. All the children were born and raised in New York except for my youngest brother David who moved to Caguas with my parents when he was 12. I am the 7th of the 8 children.
“I have always loved to hear my mom tell me stories about the island and have kept up with its history and culture while living in the U.S. I have also done some research on my own about its politics and status with the U.S. Puerto Rico has had a sad history of colonialism first with Spain and later with the United States. A lot of what has happened recently, economically and the lack of U.S. hurricane response in Puerto Rico, has to do with Puerto Rico’s economic and political relationship with the U.S.
“I was stuck in Puerto Rico after the hurricane and was surprised with the lack of response and the minimal help we received. We were abandoned and ignored for too long and help came too little, too late.”
Abby is Marty and Barbara Cotler's daughter-in-law and lives in Maplewood where she has been active in the Community Coalition on Race and many other community endeavors, from being a recipient this January of the Beloved Community Award of the South Orange Civic Organization to currently serving as a co-chair of the SOMSD Parenting Center Toy Drive. Her first-hand account, "Reflections on Hurricane María," appeared online in The Village Green (www.villagegreennj.com) on October 7.