Fourteen Head Start centers in Juana Díaz had their facilities renovated prior to the start of the 2019 school year due to the completion of the first phase of a collaboration agreement between the Bayer Crop Science Company and the Municipality of Juana Díaz.
This project, developed by Eric Torres-Collazo, Bayer Crop Science site enablement lead in Puerto Rico in collaboration with the municipality, consists of two phases: the recently completed first one, to refurbish the facilities of the centers; and a second phase consisting of outreach initiatives with this school population for talks and educational projects.
“In a cross-collaboration effort between Bayer’s departments in Puerto Rico, I approached Eric to find out how my department can collaborate for the benefit of the communities, and we identified this project,” said Axel A. Santiago Hernández, seed technician at Bayer Crop Science, who implemented the first phase.
“We already had a plan designed, so my role was to shape it, identify materials, contact and meet with federal Head Start program staff, visit the centers, and make a list of tasks and priorities for the project,” he said.
After the initial work, the Bayer Crop Science company acquired the materials and made them available for this project, while employees donated their time during working hours to carry out the renovation work at 14 Head Start centers in Juana Díaz.
These tasks consisted of structural work, such as cleaning and painting facilities; pruning of yards, gardening and maintenance of green areas; welding work; restoration of doors and fences; and correcting plumbing, lighting and electricity problems, among others
The Municipality of Juana Díaz was instrumental in identifying and facilitating contact with Head Start Program staff to ensure the success of this project, Bayer said.
Some Head Start centers that benefited from this initiative include the Modestita Rodríguez Center, Trueno Center, Collores Center and Río Cañas Abajo Center, all located in Juana Díaz.
The second phase of this collaborative project will include initiatives such as visits by Bayer staff to centers for educational talks, the design and implementation of school gardens, activities to involve parents and caregivers in the project, and the coordination of guided visits to Bayer facilities for hours of green contact, among others.
Over the last two fiscal years — from September 2016 to August 2018 — Bayer operations has had an economic impact of more than $59.8 million in Juana Díaz and several of the adjacent municipalities.
This investment includes payroll, local purchases, capital investments, municipal construction taxes, philanthropy initiatives and community sponsorships, the company said.