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February 26, 2018
Ben Doherty needed to see the devastating aftermath with his own eyes.
It had been five months since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, and he was anxious to see how the island he had come to know on a personal level, was recovering.
Ben expected the U.S. territory to be somewhat rebuilt. He wasn’t prepared for the heavy signs of damage and destruction that still plagued the country — a sight he saw firsthand when landing in San Juan.
The streets were completely dark. Power was still out and there was no hot water to speak of. At first glance, it would seem as if Ben was staying off the beaten path, but this was an area everyday Puerto Ricans called home.
“Coming from luxury homes where you have everything you desire at your disposal to not having power and mosquito nets over the beds, it was very humbling,” says Ben, a new home sales associate for River Wind.
Ben felt deeply connected to the plight of the Puerto Rican people following the hurricane and wanted to find a way to help.
After collecting monetary donations to purchase water, food, medicine and other supplies for Course of Action PR in Tampa, Ben traveled to Puerto Rico in January to volunteer with Casita Esperanza, an organization created to help aid in reconstruction and relief efforts.
“Having been through Hurricane Irma, that experience was pretty tough,” says Ben. “Watching Hurricane Maria from Florida and seeing the complete and utter destruction of the island lit a fire under me.”
A native of Sarasota, Ben learned about the value of volunteering at an early age, as his parents were heavily involved with the Kiwanis Club of Sarasota. Since then, Ben has carried his passion for volunteering and giving back to the community with him.
“I find great joy that we’re encouraged by the Neal organization to help others, give back to the community and take an active role.”
At Neal Signature Homes, community involvement, engagement and giving back for the greater good are integral parts of its brand. For Ben, caring for others and embracing the challenge of always doing the right thing are two things that he tries to do in all aspects of his life.
“Neal’s core principles from the “Gold Standard” of guiding principles really speak to me, and this trip was about caring for others and embracing challenge,” says Ben. “I am truly happy with Neal Signature Homes for showing such strong leadership and showcasing our principles outside of building homes.”
Since returning home to Lakewood Ranch, Ben has been preparing for his next volunteer project after being accepted as a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast.
“I’m anxiously waiting for them to find the right person for me,” says Ben. “Hopefully that happens soon.”