Craft Beer, Good Food, and an Adult P.R.O.M. for Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

The news cycle is so fast these days. What is earth shattering news one minute is replaced by the next scandal or event in the next minute. Because of this, items that have long lasting effects rarely get the coverage they need or deserve. For instance, Hurricane Maria struck the Caribbean, particularly Puerto Rico, eight weeks ago. It was big news for a few days, including the discussion of whether or not there was an adequate response, and then it disappeared from the headlines.

In an effort to put the plight of Puerto Rico back in the front of our minds, one Indianapolis family is organizing a charity event to raise money and awareness for those still in need. With the help of Indianapolis craft beer breweries and local restaurants, the Foster family is holding an adult P.R.O.M. (Puerto Rico Overcoming Maria) on December 1st from 8-11 pm at Gallery Forty-Two in downtown Indianapolis.

Laurie Foster and her husband Matt moved to Puerto Rico in 2011, where both their children were born. They moved a couple of times while living in Puerto Rico, and came to know many people and areas. By 2016, they had come to regard Puerto Rico as their second home, with many friends and a church community to which they were (and are) strongly bound.

A Puerto Rican village after Maria. photo credit: NBC News

The Foster family moved back to Indianapolis in early June of this year, just 3.5 months before Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20th. Winds of 150 mph and floodwaters from rain and storm surge destroyed much of the islands infrastructure. Villages were completely cut off from the cities; cities were without power or clean water. Cell service was down, as was radio and television. The entire island, having been bisected by the storm, was a disaster area.

And the saddest part – things haven’t changed much in the two months since the storm.  Communication is still intermittent, both for phone and internet – and the internet only applies to the 18% or so of the island that has consistent electrical service. Many schools are not open, which puts a strain on parents who need to work to maintain their jobs.

The neighborhood where the Fosters lived after the birth of their second child, the Ocean Park district of San Juan, has been doubly hit. Several feet of floodwater did not recede for more than two weeks, and returned with a major rainstorm this past week. Sewers and drains were clogged from the hurricane and could not carry the rainwater away. With all this water still plaguing the island, it is ironic that safe water for drinking is greatly lacking. Only the burgeoning mosquito population has gained from the flooding. Millions of American citizens are merely trying to survive until help can come or services are restored.

image credit: P.R.O.M.

This is where the Fosters come back into the picture with their idea for a fund raising benefit. Federal and international aid has been picking up since the first few days post-Maria, but far too many people are still just trying to hang on. The current efforts just aren’t enough. Clearly, a renewed effort must be made to help our fellow Americans. The Fosters’ church in San Juan, Second Union Church, is a 501(c)3 corporation which has set up the Hurricane Maria Relief Fund to raise and distribute monies to organizations and individuals in need. Laurie told me, “We picked them as a beneficiary for our P.R.O.M. because we trust them to be good stewards with the money and to get help directly to so many people who desperately need it.”

Gallery Forty-Two is a beautiful venue for the P.R.O.M. benefit and the artwork of the gallery will be augmented by touches from Puerto Rico. P.R.O.M. is a black tie optional evening, but LifeTouch Photography will be there with a photo booth for couples, groups and individuals, so it is hoped that this posh benefit will have a posh looking crowd. Break out those tuxedoes and the prom dresses that are still in the back of your closet. I don’t suppose that internet memes will be built from these photos twenty years from now, unlike what happened with all our first proms.

The craft beer and restaurant communities have come together to support this effort, much as they did with Bent Rail’s hurricane relief dinner event in June. Bier Brewery’s own Sarah Buschmann is Laurie’s sister, so Jerry, Darren and all the folks at Bier are happy to donate beer for the P.R.O.M. Big Lug Canteen, along with another Eddie Sahm property, Sahm’s Place, The Garden Table, and Morton’s Steakhouse are providing hors d’oeuvres for the benefit attendees. The menu now being finalized, and will include meats, vegetarian options and dessert. Finally, Republic National Distributing will be providing wine for those who choose to pass on Bier’s wonderful brews.  Great food, wine and beer means that this prom will already put your high school debacle to shame, and you won’t even have to spike the punch.

Gallery Forty-Two makes a great venue for an adult prom. photo credit: Gallery Forty-Two

DJ Jim Cerone will be playing music and the dance floor will be open for showing off your best moves. Fast songs, slow songs, and songs from the 80s, 90s, and today will get your feet moving. Latin music will also be included to keep the focus on Puerto Rico, including the 2017 hit single by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi and rapper Daddy Yankee, Despacito. In between noshing and dancing, there will be raffles and other surprises as ways to raise additional funds for Puerto Rico relief.

Limited tickets are for sale now online for $75 /person for this 21+ event, a small price given the event and the need. If the event is not sold out, tickets can be purchased until 6 pm on the day of the event, but at the present time are not planned to be sold at the door. For those choosing not to rent a limousine for their prom evening, there will be parking in public garages around the corner on Pennsylvania Street and at Circle Center.

Put on your best duds and grab your best partner for an evening of remembrances and fun for an excellent cause. It will be months or years before Puerto Rico functions at 100%, but the immediate problems are not economic or cultural, they are humanitarian. Be part of the healing.

Tickets are available here. If you are unable to attend but would like to help the cause, or if you have questions, contact Laurie Foster at lauriejfoster@yahoo.com. This is a 21+ event and valid IDs will be required.

 
 

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