A Southampton Village resident who spends her time helping teenagers through bereavement is now setting her sights on helping victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.Laraine Gordon, 50, is planning to host a wellness retreat—which she’s dubbed The Rincon Relief Retreat—in March 2018 in Rincon, located on the west coast of Puerto Rico. The hallmarks of a typical retreat will be there—participants will be treated to spa-like luxuries and relaxation—but they will also help rebuild a playground and set up a vegetable garden at The Hogar, an orphanage in nearby Mayaguez.
Wellness retreats are already an offering from Ms. Gordon, whose business, Love Your Life Coastal, facilitates retreats and wellness workshops in various coastal settings.
The money Ms. Gordon takes in from the retreats helps fund Time for Teens, a non-profit organization that helps teenagers navigate grief after the loss of a loved one.
After Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, Ms. Gordon said, she wanted to find a way to help the U.S. territory she frequently visits. So she reached out to a contact of hers, Lorenzo Blanco, who told her about the orphanage, which suffered a great deal of damage during Hurricane Maria.
Ms. Gordon said that because her main focus is children, she thought it would be a good idea to help the children of Puerto Rico. “To actually be the change, you have to head something up,” she said. “It’s all about the kids.”
Ms. Gordon, who works professionally as a psychotherapist, said she is working on a four-phase project to help the children of the orphanage in Puerto Rico.
In the first phase, which was completed on November 4, Ms. Gordon and a few local teenagers from Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance helped pull together clothes and fresh water straws, which help filter water so that it is drinkable, and sent them to Puerto Rico.
Phase two of Ms. Gordon’s project is to send down more clothes, especially for infants, along with insect repellent and anti-bacterial soap. Her goal is to get these supplies out by December 8.
“Laraine is one of those ‘under the radar’ types that when she sees a need, especially involving young people, quietly takes charge and gets things done,” said Joe Hurley, a duty chief with the Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance. “To use her own words, she’s a ‘pit bull’ in such matters. The children at that orphanage could not have a better friend and supporter.”
Phase three is the retreat, which will take place from March 7 to 10. The cost to attend the retreat is $1,600, which does not include airfare. Those who sign up to attend will stay at the Caracol Che in Rincon, where they will have meals prepared for them by gourmet chef Carol Galanty.
Using the money Ms. Gordon raises, she said she wants to rebuild a playground, which would require her to purchase the supplies in the United States and then have them shipped to Puerto Rico. Although in past years Ms. Gordon has taken up to 10 people on the retreats, this year she plans to max it out at six people, so that the efforts are focused more on helping people in Puerto Rico.
“People who want to help will,” she said. “If I get a lot of people who are interested, I’ll set up a second one.”
While on the retreat, participants will help set up a vegetable garden, which is phase four of Ms. Gordon’s project.
“Everything I do is a humanitarian effort,” Ms. Gordon said. “I want to make a huge impact for a small orphanage down there.”
Ms. Gordon said if anyone is interested in donating to her cause, they can go to www.loveyourlifecoastal.com, or call (631)-338-7258.