Image by Bren Photography
On Wednesday, October 10, Symmetry Financial Group agents, staff, and friends arrived in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico to support the ongoing hurricane recovery efforts from the impact of Hurricane Maria, a record-breaking storm that devastated the area in late 2017.
Overall, 180 Symmetry agents participated in the cleanup, picking up trash on Punta Salinas beach and planting native trees at the historic Hacienda la Esperanza nature reserve. Local Guest , a women-powered travel and tourism group, hosted the volunteer day. Local Guest works alongside local communities and entrepreneurs to support tourism based on sustainable development practices.
“One of our goals here at Symmetry when it comes to philanthropy is to be able to give back in other ways than just writing a check, and our Puerto Rico volunteer day was a fantastic example of this,” said Whit Zeh, Director of Community Relations. “To be able to bring 180 people to these small towns and clean up was such a gift. A gift to the towns and a gift to our agents. We saw the impact we could make with this many people in a fairly short amount of time.”
A group of about 70 Symmetry agents visited Punta Salinas beach in the town of Toa Baja to help with a major beach cleanup. Toa Baja was one of the worst hit towns on the island after the hurricane: the sea and river collided, flooding much of the beach and town nearby. Days passed before first responders were able to rescue some residents from their roofs. Efforts to rebuild are still ongoing, as most of the area was completely devastated by the hurricane winds and flooding. The town has had few resources to repair the beach and forest, so the volunteer work done by the Symmetry team helped to achieve the UN Sustainability Goals of preserving the land and ocean and protecting the animals and plants native to the area.
Another group of over 100 Symmetry team members worked alongside Para la Naturaleza, a local non-profit helping restore native vegetation around the Hacienda la Esperanza nature reserve in Manatí. The historic site was heavily flooded during the hurricane and was stripped of most of its plants and native trees. The team helped restore the soil and ecosystem to prevent future flooding, which will ultimately help local farmers use the land for crops. Symmetry volunteers planted over 200 indigenous trees once the day was done!
Living out Symmetry’s core values of service and doing good for others was a big takeaway from the trip for many team members. “Our intent is that these volunteer days will now become a regular part of our Symmetry incentive trips,” said Whit. “The work done during these trips is driven by our core value of being of service and doing good in the world.”