25017728_333661000443753_8590856919046946816_n

Kayla Pérez works at a local gas action in Ricón. Despite not having any working lighting at night, the owner refused to close the gas station.
.
Without access to gasoline, none of the residents of Ricón could run generators at night or use their cars to help with the relief efforts.
.
A few of the locals told us that they could tell the gas station was open at night because they could see Kayla solar light illuminating the gas station.
.
#HopeForPuertoRico

25008591_258849397974815_9086661303677747200_n

78 days without electricity and light is a long time however, this brother and sister can now study after the sun goes down. Puerto Rico’s future is looking brighter and brighter. #HopeForPuertoRico

24327940_1711031832251316_2425659071920078848_n

These two sisters living in Morovis told us that when they can get gas, their generator often overheats and stops running especially on very hot days. Their new solar lights will never over heat. #RememberPuertoRico #givelight #wol #HopeForPuertoRico

25009471_1105581202909655_6540256497610260480_n

The difficult, off the beat and path and the forgotten places is where we love to serve.

As we served the people of Morovis yesterday it was as if a light from above was hiding us to each recipient.

25008891_117315445650304_6740507307676794880_n

When we arrived at Parcelas Nuevas today Maria Luisa Vasquez Colon (pictures here) was the most joyful and excited person at today’s light distribution. She cheered and laugh the entire time. She was actually jumping up and down as we talked. When I asked her if I could take her photo at her house, she burst into tears! It was so painful to see her dramatic and instantaneous change.
.
Through her tears of sorrow she told us that she and her husband José had their entire home completely blown away from the hurricane. Only the bathroom walls remained of the home they spent their entire lives saving to buy.
.
On behalf of Maria Luisa Vasquez Colon
José Enrique we thank every person that donated to help provide them their solar new light.
.
#RememberPuertoRico #givelight #wol #HopeForPuertoRico

25011462_1630432980373581_4328211201864499200_n

This is Conzuelo Sanchez Caro. Since hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico she has been living without electricity for over 11 weeks. Prior to receiving her new @wattsoflove solar light, she was using an old fashion kerosene lamp. She said it was “very dangerous and smelly” Plus it was ‘too heavy’ for her to carry from room to room when she moving around at night.
.
She kept telling us how much she loved her solar light. “Mi Luz me salvo mi vida yo no podia ver nada …….”.
.
When we were getting ready to leave, we asked her what could we do to improve her light? She immediately responded… “Dame dos” (give me two). They always say with age comes wisdom!
.
Please consider making a donation to help those that still have received a light.
.
#RememberPuertoRico #givelight #wol #HopeForPuertoRico

24846028_309984109498812_5564879492092002304_n

I thought I’d seen it all, I now understand I never knew what a “lowlands avocado” looks like. This thing is huge!

25011928_151534325477652_7148099287455367168_n

When a local Rincon resident says “hey I want you to take a photo of a solar light on my belly” you take it.
.
You then laugh, exchange high-fives and rejoice that despite all of hardships and not having electricity for 11 weeks, the spirits of the residents of Rincon remain resilient.

25012124_132157627452970_122510570569072640_n

His roof was completely ripped off as well as two of the four walls that defined his home.
.
He smiled the entire time we spoke with him. He was so grateful for his new solar light and intently listened to every word we told him on how to use the light. .
I saw several now depleted flash lights tossed on the ground and his small handmade wooden table. When one of the local DEA agents assisting in us gave him two cases of bottled water we could see he was touched. When the last agent gave him a 10 lb bag of ice for his makeshift cooler, he almost cried.
.
Ice. Something cold. Frozen crystals of life. It’s truly amazing to be reminded how something so simple, light, a hug or a few simple cubes of ice can immediately lift and change someone’s outlook on life.
.
#RememberPuertoRico #givelight #wol

24331818_509723109384155_6042690184250654720_n

Have you ever wondered what heaven might be like? I often do.
.
I have ultimately come to the conclusion that the joy, peace and wonderment of it all is way too great to comprehend.
.
Do to the number of people helping us in Puerto Rico, I have been sleeping on a wafer thin mattress on the floor. Since the room is so small, my head touches the door that leads into the kitchen. Well friends, surprisingly this just might be heaven on earth.
.
Each morning I wake to my roommate Steven strumming his 12 string guitar, singing his lungs out with songs that seems to be downloaded from a different realm and the smell of bacon in the air. Yes, bacon!
.
Am I in heaven? No. But I do unequivocally believe a slice of heaven has invade my bedroom every morning before we take the fields to help. #ThoughtsWhileWaking

24327856_1859885474323616_4887740243899318272_n

The worst feeling in the world is thinking you have been forgotten.
.
Those that started the walk with you, slowly begin to drifted away. In time you feel alone.
.
It has been over 12 weeks since Puerto Rico experienced a devastating hurricane. Large portions of the island are still without electricity. Many families have uprooted everything due to lack of clean water, power and the constant status of the unknown.
.
Watts of Love has returned for third time to Puerto Rico and we are so glad we are here again. There is still so much work to be done. There are still so many that need help. Most importantly the people of Puerto Rico need to know they are not forgotten!
.
Please help us with our mission to continue to support those that have lost so much in Puerto Rico. Not only will your donation provide critical access lighting, perhaps equally as important, your donation tells each person that they are not forgotten!
.
#RememberPuertoRico #givelight #wol https://www.wattsoflove.org/puerto-rico-emergency-relief

23594816_1014152778727522_431034791748435968_n

Our @wattsoflove team is heading back to Puerto Rico to deliver additional solar lights and we need your support. In the spirit of not forgetting those that lost everything, we share this video of the families you helped us serve in Corpus Chrisiti, TX. To donate you can click the link in my bio. #puertorico #puertoricostrong

23421950_1996907137244117_4806820457292496896_n

No clue why they would call this place the “Redneck Riviera.” Absolutely Beautiful.

23416575_754236954760467_3332456620931153920_n

Dressed for work.

23280093_543886159285564_8030108290983657472_n

7 years of transformation. So much more to come @soulcitychurch. Thank you @jarrettstevens and @jeannestevens. And thank you @patrickmayberry. Lucky to be right in front of you today. #scGrandOpening #soucity

22352326_1467450943302741_3287466928699867136_n

For everyone of my trips for the past four years, I’ve always tried to take a side-mirror selfie. I don’t know why, it’s just become a thing I do. It’s nice to finally have someone smiling back at me. On the road in Punta Cana.

21879750_120282818678318_9084041532540977152_n

Hearing back to help soon.

21820223_1717308365245719_6279341632424771584_n

This is a photo by friend @javaholicandtheboy. I met her when Josh and I were in Ireland at one of our @jjindublin events. She captures simple life moments and infuses a ton of creativity. Most importantly she writes from the heart and isn’t afraid to share her ups, downs and struggles as a creative person. Plus, she is one friendly soul. Take a look at her work, tell her @kevinkuster sent you and give her a follow if you like what you see. I am sure you will!
.
Okay guys let’s start sharing the people that inspire you and let’s build some connections and community today! Leave a comment below this photo and put down a username or two of people that inspire you that you think I should be following!

21568591_115948975790037_406134998022750208_n

This is Joe Cornflakes. He was lovingly referred to as “Cornflakes Joe” by a few of the relief workers.

Joe’s house, garage, storage shed and RV camp site along with several RV’s were completely destroyed. Joe proudly told us he has been sober for over 25 years. He also told us he would often allow people struggling with problems to stay for free in one of his RVs and the camp while turning their life around.

When Joe was visited by our local partner Dawn from she asked him how they could help? In a slow and deliberate southern accent he responded…. “I would really appreciate a bowl of cornflakes.” The following day Dawn brought him for four boxes of Cornflakes. Joe cried with gratitude and thanked her over and over.

To see a man standing, surrounded by all of his earthly possessions destroyed yet still shows such gratitude for a simple gift of Cornflakes was truly moving for everyone on our tream.

Gratitude like any muscle, grows stronger and stronger the more it is exercised. Even though Joe stood amongst so much distinction and chaos, Joe was easily the strongest person we met in Texas!

21435644_1971547386415997_1330407811183542272_n

Studying this photos will make you feel good! I don’t think anyone can look at this photo and not feel a sense of joy. The laughter on each persons face in this moment just make me so pleased. I truly love interacting with people and love trying to capture even the smallest glimmer of the human spirt. Even after seeing much of their town destroyed by Hurricane Harvey ,this family demonstrates that the human heart can and does remain resilient.

21576531_471578223217377_6910173118757601280_n

We saw the energy companies working night and day to get power lines up and running however, when your house is “mostly” destroyed and is the only place you have to live, they can not hook power up to a devastated home, what do you do for light?

21435656_122429278487216_7310291035102380032_n

Hurricane Harvey Relief. There truly is something about the people of Texas. They are resilient, strong, and very proud to call themselves Texans.

Although almost everyone we encountered had most of their worldly possessions completely destroyed each one of them said “we will rebuild.” Even more remarkably, each person we encountered and told them that we wanted to give them a light would automatically say… “I’m not as bad as my neighbor. You should really give them a light instead.” Texas pride runs deep and strong!

21433801_607029543018169_8780235277101694976_n

Hurricane Harvey Relief. Although there is so much destruction, struggle and uncertainty in Rockport Texas there is also so much love!
.
After we gave Kallie and her grandmother Linda their new solar lights, I asked them if I could photograph them separately. When Kallie was telling us how scared she was for her grandmas safety during the hurricane and how much she loved her, it immediately became obvious to me that I needed to photograph them together.
.
As they began to hold one another I could see their love for one another. It was one of the most powerful moments I’ve ever experienced as a photographer. I lowered my camera to give them their sacred moment. I felt I was an united guest at a sacred moment.
.
After a few moments, I slowly walked up to them and asked them if I could continue photographing them. I also asked if they would do me the honor of staying in their moment.
.
They agreed and their moment of expressing their love for one another grew even deeper and deeper the longer they held each other. Tears of joy gently rolled down their cheeks. Their embrace tightened. And finally, both of them released the fearful thoughts and stress of what could have happened.
.
Love is truly the most powerful force on earth.

21373680_834493440043420_5647527118272200704_n

Day 2 Hurricane Harvey relief. This is Floyd and his daughter Christie.
.
Floyd’s home of 20 years was severely damaged. Christie who lived right next door had her home completely torn apart. You can see some of the pieces of her home in the mangled trees behind them in this photo.
.
When we first pulled up their home, they were eating under a plastic tarp and someone immediately said “If you don’t have candles for night, we don’t want anything.” We all laughed out loud.
.
We don’t have candles but, we have something even better we responded. When I asked Christie to turn her light on for this photo she said “never seen such a bright light from something so small.” This is the second hurricane Floyd has survived and will have to rebuild from the devastation.
.
When we asked Floyd what he would tell people it was like to survive a hurricane he said “No one can understand what it’s like to live through a hurricane. No one! This is my second hurricane. Ma first one was Hurricane Cecilia. Now Harvey. The number one thang I would tell people is when a hurricane is commin…flea!” When we told them we came from Chicago go give them their solar lights they said “it’s really nice to know people care.”

21479892_102599743816453_6792958693836062720_n

Day 2 Hurricane Harvey Relief. We could not decide what brought this Lilli more comfort, her little stuffed animal or her families new solar light.

Most of the people we are serving are not expected to get electricity for at least 30 days. Although the electrical repair crews are working so hard and all over Corpus Christi, there are thousands of miles of down power lines and transformers.

When we were taking to her Lilli’s mom Gabby, she said “I am just so sad to see my home town (Rockport) that I grew up in completely destroyed. I know it will be rebuilt but, it’s still so sad.”

21480349_304262160048698_3988022798151843840_n

Day 1 Hurricane Havey relief. This is Leslie and Elaine. They had lived in their mobile home seen behind them for 20 years. The roof and walls are smashed, widows broken and all of their worldly possessions are soaked with rain water. I can only imagine that mold is starring to grow.
.
When I asked them where they have been sleeping they pointed to their mobile home and said “where else could we stay? There.” Allan motioned to the trailer. When I asked him what they were doing for light at night he asked me to follow him into the trailer. The interior of his home was as bad as the exterior. Alan then showed me a small flash light pen. The kind of light a doctor might use to examine a patients throat. He had to shake it a few times to get it to work.
.
Although the human spirit is resilient and strong, having the proper tools to remain safe helps so much especially in a disaster area.
.
When we were driving to our base camp last night, we were all so pleased to know that the last thing Leslie and Elaine would do is turn off a new and substantially brighter solar lighter light that no longer needed to be shaken to work.
.
Thank you to everyone that helped put a light in this families hands. We are still accepting donations if you would like to help us with out mission to spread light, love and hope. Click the link in our bio to donate to Hurricane Harvey relief.

21373271_357470894666702_4417275526364790784_n

Day 1 Hurricane Havey relief. This is Allan (right) and his brother Hector (left). They are standing in what remains of Allan’s trailer home. It is devastated and beyond repair. I was a tad concerned as I entered into what remained of his trailer. “I’ve lost everything and my home is gone. All gone.”
.
As Alan repeated these words and told us about his experience, he had a constant smile and joy about him. Yes, joy. We couldn’t make this up! Alan was truly joyful. Joyful that he and his brother were safe and alive.
.
As we were taking to Allan his neighbors Leslie and Elaine came over. (I will post their photos next.) Their trailer was also severely damaged and had huge trees on top of their roof. Allan spent an entire day cutting down and removing all of the trees that were crushing their home. Not because they asked him. Not because they are too old to do it themselves. No, Allan did it because as Elaine says “he is just a good neighbor and looks after us.”
.
Thank you to everyone that donated to allow us to help the people of Corpus Christi, TX.

21373540_357955694637858_6709342406501728256_n

Day 1 Hurricane Havey relief. As we arrived in the first neighborhood to assist the families of Rockport TX it is eerily silent.
.
No sounds of human activity. No kids playing. No dogs barking and most notable not a single bird singing. Just an occasional hum of a single generator off in the distance for someone lucky enough to have temporary power.
.
This is Josh. When we met him he was helping his girlfriends grandma with her damaged house. When we asked him how his house was, he walked us over to his tiny house on wheels he was just in the process of completing. His tiny house can be seen overturned and can be seen behind him in this photo.
.
Josh had been working for 5 years and spending every “extra dollar” he had to build himself a home. The Hurricane devastate it and blew it over. Then a clean up crew had to push it off the road to clear it so traffic could pass. “I’ve lost most everything and lost my home, but we are all safe and alive. That is all that matters.”
.
We are so thankful to everyone has donated to @wattsoflove and allowed us to provide Josh this light. Tonight he will not sit in darkness. Josh, had a gentle and amazing heart.

21372209_269821306858830_4531752218872774656_n

Solar light charged and ready to deploy to Corpus Christi Texas and the families that lost so much from Hurrican Harvey. To help click the link in my bio to donate.

21294564_1535269696519999_5243967219431374848_n

Donation goals reached, or not, we are shipping out 1,000 solar headlamps to Corpus Christie, Texas.

If you’d like to help us fund please click the link in my profile. Leaving for Texas on Monday! #hurricaneharvey #WOL #hurricaneharvey2017