Although it could be months before the Go Gogo Foundation restarts operations at its next headquarters on Avenida Hostos de Ponce, the charity is already evaluating remedies to resume some of the services that are urgently needed for children in the southwest and central areas, victims of cancer and other conditions.
In an interview with La Perla del Sur, the president of the organization and director of the Go Gogo Pediatric Institute, Ulises Clavel Fontánez, revealed that he has already begun dialogues with officials of the incoming municipal administration, with the aim of achieving a provisional space that allows them assist hundreds of patients in a short time.
On December 16, the Go Gogo Pediatric Institute announced the indefinite closure of its activities due to the imminent eviction of its current headquarters, whose lease agreement with the Damas Foundation expires this Thursday, December 31.
“The closure is something temporary, but the uncertainty is when we will return,” acknowledged Clavel Fontánez.
“From us not being able to start our operations for the month of February, we have asked to identify a facility in the municipality that is in good condition, which we can use for a few months so that we can conclude the construction works,” explained Clavel Fontánez.
“From the messages we have received, there is openness and interest in helping, so we will see if something can be squared, once the new administration enters. That is our hope, ”he continued.
When approached on the subject, the elected mayor Luis Irizarry Pabón assured this weekly that he will coordinate a meeting with the non-profit organization, once he takes possession of the Mayor’s Office in January.
“We know the commendable work that the Go Gogo Foundation has done in the city and we are open to help. We will meet to see how we can attend, once we are in town. First, you have to see what spaces there are and what options we have ”, responded the mayor-elect.
Since its inauguration in 2013, the Go Gogo Pediatric Institute has provided medical services to children in the southern, central and western areas of the country who require specialized treatment for cancer and other conditions.
The clinic treated 18 thousand patients a year.
The closure of the Pediatric Institute marks the end of a contentious relationship between the organization and the Damas Foundation, since the latter acquired in August 2019 the land where the building that until this month was the headquarters of Go Gogo is located.
After the Damas Foundation initially claimed the eviction of the property located on Monte Rey Street from the Reparada Industrial Urbanization, the parties agreed to a one-year lease, which expires on December 31.
“It has been an extremely strong few months. You see what is coming, but it is not until those last days arrive in a town, that you realize how serious the thing is. We are in the middle of a move and it is very complicated ”, admitted Clavel Fontánez.
The Go Gogo director further indicated that an extension to the lease agreement is not on the table, so the move is final and firm.
“Thanks to the Lord, today I can tell you that nothing is owed to the Damas Foundation. He was paid every month ”, he assured.
However, he acknowledged that the works to enable the new building on Hostos Avenue are progressing at a trickle pace, due to the limited personnel and resources available.
“We had an earthquake in January and a pandemic in March. Almost nothing, “said Clavel Fontánez. “With those two events alone, it is more than enough to change the plans of any institution.”
Salt and water a promise of funds
However, in Clavel Fontánez’s opinion, the unfulfilled promise of $ 2 million in aid funds, offered by the outgoing governor, Wanda Vázquez Garced, during a meeting in La Fortaleza last September has been worse.
As he explained, part of that money would make it possible to speed up the conditioning of the new headquarters, although a large part of the capital was contemplated for the institution’s master plan, which includes the rehabilitation of the 13-string property of the old brewery on Hostos Avenue.
“Everything they asked us, we did… but I don’t have much hope that this money will arrive before the change of government. So we have to work with the few resources we have to enable part of the structure and thus begin operations as soon as possible, “he said.
Even so, Clavel Fontánez is hopeful to partially resume the operations of the Gogo Pediatric Institute, as early as February and as late as summer.
“Right now we are in a transition and it has been a difficult process, but we are going to move forward. Appointments have been coordinated to start in February and we hope to have some space for patients to come ”, he concluded.
People, organizations and companies interested in collaborating with these goals can call 787-974-2679 or make contributions -via ATH Móvil- to the same number. They can also make donations to the Go Gogo Foundation account at Banco Popular, number 134-391-640.