Showing love for their homeland, Puerto Rican-Americans Veronica Dietz, Rosalind Esteves and Susan Matos gathered at Meltdown DIY Art Studio in Eldersburg on Tuesday evening to join the Paint for Puerto Rico fundraiser.

All proceeds from the event support the Harimau Conservation, a Puerto Rican-based nonprofit that has partnered with ConnectRelief to open roads, restore communication on the island and help those in need after Hurricane Maria.


“This is a way for us to help and give back,” said Dietz, of Westminster.

According to Meltdown owner Lisa Feltz, the painting fundraiser was held simultaneously at 24 other art studios around the country. All of the participants painted the same image of a famous Puerto Rican door in San Juan.

“It’s really neat to have a nationwide effort happening at the same time,” Feltz said.

Dietz’s mother, Rosalind Esteves, also of Westminster, said she felt she “had to come.”

“I’m not an artist and I’ve never done anything like this before, but when I saw that 100 percent of the proceeds go to help restore the roads and communications, I couldn’t resist,” Esteves said. “It’s our homeland. I was born in the states, but I have a sentimental feeling for the island and my husband still has family there.”

Esteves said her family members have told her that conditions are still difficult a month after the hurricane.

“They’re having trouble getting water and gasoline,” Esteves said. “When I hear it will take years to restore Puerto Rico, it’s very disheartening. So if I can do just this little to help, I will.”

Esteves’ sister, Susan Matos, of Westminster, said she has friends who live in Puerto Rico. She plans to visit in February.

“I will feel better when I go to the island and see things for myself,” Matos said. “My friends say they’ve finally opened the Costco and when they went to get water the line was so long that by the time they got inside there was no more water. I feel horrible for them.”

Carlos Castillo, of Eldersburg, also attended the benefit.

“I’m not artistic but my father was born in Puerto Rico and I feel a kinship with the island and the people,” Castillo said. “It’s a beautiful place with beautiful people. To see them so needful with no power and water is disheartening. Rebuilding is going to be difficult and I hope this helps.”

Friends Sue Gaeger and Lisa Eline also attended the event.

“I think it’s great that 100 percent of the proceeds go to Puerto Rico,” said Gaeger, of Finksburg. “The money goes to the roads and it’s extremely important for them to be open so they can get supplies to people.”

“I vacation there at least twice a year,” added Eline, of Hampstead. “I wanted to do something and this is a way to help that goes directly to the source.”