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Tampa Humanitarian To Attend State Of The Union

Jan 29, 2018

A Tampa woman who sprang into action to help Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria will attend Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

Members of Congress are each allowed one guest to bring to the address. While some choose their family or friends, others use it as a political opportunity to take someone who puts a face to an issue that they are pushing.

Brenda Irizarry was invited by Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, to be her guest in the Capitol when President Donald Trump addresses a joint session of Congress. Irizarry serves on Castor's Task Force on Puerto Rico Recovery and Assistance.

Irizarry was one of many Tampa Bay area Puerto Ricans who channeled their energy following Hurricane Maria into mobilizing relief efforts and collecting almost three million pounds of supplies for the island. She created a non-profit foundation to help Puerto Ricans who resettled in Florida. The organization, Missions of Miracles, assists relocated families with everything from finding housing to getting a job.

Castor hopes Irizarry’s presence at the address will remind the federal government of the crisis in Puerto Rico and push them to give regions devastated by the hurricane more aid.

“[Irizarry] will represent the urgent message from Central Florida and Florida’s Puerto Rican community to President Trump and GOP congressional leaders: Approve immediately additional disaster recover resources for Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Texas,” the congresswoman said in a statement.

Irizarry urges people not to forget about Puerto Rico, and keep donating what they can.

"If it was us over here, I'm sure we would've gotten the help that we needed, so why can't we help Puerto Rico?" Irizarry said.