Cooperativa La Sagrada Familia Brings Relief to Families in Rural Communities

Cooperativa La Sagrada Familia Brings Relief to Families in Rural Communities

COVID-19 has had a profound impact in the island of Puerto Rico, particularly in low-income rural communities. For decades, natural disasters and economic crises have weakened rural economies and critical infrastructure.

Puerto Rico has a robust network of financial cooperatives with a strong presence in rural areas. The pandemic presented new challenges for their operations. The cooperatives' response has been overwhelming: providing loan forbearance, emergency loans, fee waivers and other financial relief measures. Many financial cooperatives have activated their community partnerships, engaging in outreach and providing direct support.

One of the cooperatives that has been deeply engaged in COVID-19 relief is Cooperativa La Sagrada Familia in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Sagrada is the first CDFI financial cooperative on the island, offering affordable and relevant financial services to 30,000 member-owners through five branches in rural and urban areas of the island. An Inclusiv member and Juntos Avanzamos credit union, Sagrada recently received a $794,500 CDFI award to expand its community impact and provide COVID-19 relief.

Earlier this month, Sagrada Familia announced a partnership with the JJ Barea Foundation to bring food and COVID-19 essentials to 500 families in the rural city of Corozal. The financial cooperative also joined forces with Inclusiv associate member Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples, one of the Island’s most prominent multi-level cooperative institutions, as well as other community organizations and businesses. To determine who would receive the aid, Sagrada Familia activated its network of community partners to identify 500 local families who were in dire need of food and supplies. The families were given vouchers to gain access to an aid distribution event, which took place in the municipal basketball court in Corozal.

Sagrada Familia already has an important presence in the communities it serves. It is the home of a small business incubator program, an artisan workshop, and the Oasis project, a community resiliency center for the 128,000 residents of the mountain cities of Corozal, Naranjito, Barranquitas and Comerio. In the event of a natural disaster, the Oasis is equipped with a drinking water well, gasoline storage unit, a soon-to-be-completed solar powered energy system, and a kitchen with the capacity to serve 1,000 meals a day.

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