After launching a global crowdfunding campaign to support the most at-risk citizens in his native Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria left millions in the dark, Salvador has been recognized by TIME magazine as a 2017 Teen of the Year alongside fellow activists, artists, and entrepreneurs.
Students who come to EXPLO learn to live with daring and courage. Sometimes, that means putting aside our own fear and despair to meet the needs of the greater good.
That is exactly what EXPLO alum Salvador Gómez did when Hurricane Maria all but demolished his native Puerto Rico, leaving millions across the island in the dark. Within days of the hurricane’s destruction, he launched a crowdfunding campaign — Light and Hope for Puerto Rico — to provide solar lights and washing machines to the most vulnerable victims in San Juan’s Piñones community. He set a goal of $100,000 to help 1,000 families (as of December 19, he has raised more than $97,000).
Salvador was quickly recognized internationally for his efforts to combat the humanitarian crisis, with his work being highlighted by CNN, Global Citizen, and the Bush Center. Most recently, he was named to TIME magazine’s list of the 30 Most Influential Teens of 2017, appearing alongside fellow activists like Shibby de Guzman, Olympian Sydney McLaughlin, and artists Millie Bobby Brown and Shawn Mendes. He told TIME reporter Ashley Hoffman that he was frightened and overwhelmed when his family had to ration food, but he quickly shifted perspective, asking himself how he could give hope to others.
“One day should not go by that we don’t remind ourselves of how we can make other people’s lives better,” he told Hoffman.
A recent campaign update noted that the funds raised have already been deployed, with an initial batch of solar lights distributed throughout Piñones.
"We were able to impact the two sides, East & West, of the Piñones Community,” Salvador wrote. “It was very heartbreaking to see the living conditions that people are going through and what they have to endure. Regardless, you would see the light on people's faces when we came to their house with something that would literally light their life up."