What: I Heart Puerto Rico benefit with ¡Chiringa!, 1,000 Fuegos, Latin Dance Bend

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Drive, Bend

Cost: $10 suggested donation

Contact: volcanictheatrepub.com or 541-323-1881

Shireen Amini has long used her music to bring Puerto Rican and Latin culture to Bend.

The singer-songwriter, who is of Puerto Rican and Iranian descent, is perhaps best known locally for fronting Latin dance/rock band ¡Chiringa!, fusing traditional sounds and songs with Western pop influences (the band name itself is Puerto Rican Spanish for “kite,” and was Shireen’s nickname growing up). The group’s energetic performances are often culturally immersive and frequently include pre-show dance lessons from Latin Dance Bend.

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, causing extensive damage, widespread power outages and water shortages, Amini knew she had to do something to help the island, where she was born and lived until age 3.

“At the time, I was a little bit dissociated from what it really meant,” Amini said. “I was aware (the hurricane) was coming. I stayed in touch with family (on the island), but when I heard about it — the extent of it — I was in shock. … I didn’t have a ton of emotion.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, music brought the situation home for her. She heard Lin-Manuel Miranda’s song “Almost Like Praying” — written and recorded as a benefit for hurricane relief efforts and featuring top Latin American artists such as Marc Anthony, Camila Cabello, Gloria Estefan and Luis Fonsi — through a Facebook support thread.

“They divided up all these verses and they showed footage of these artists singing into the microphone, and I broke. I just started bawling,” she said. “It was touching, but it was like, oh, yeah. The fact that all of these artists have stepped up — it finally hit me, I guess — I don’t know how else to explain it. And for the first time I felt anger, too. I felt anger in my belief and opinion about our contribution to global warming and climate change that to me are undeniably linked to this sudden influx of intense hurricane weather-patterning.”

¡Chiringa! will lead the I Heart Puerto Rico benefit show at Volcanic Theatre Pub on Saturday — the second Puerto Rico benefit to hit the venue in three weeks, following the Tom Petty tribute show Nov. 25. Amini intends the event to be a cultural celebration of the island as well, including performances from Latin Dance Bend and Portland-based Afro-Cuban rock band 1,000 Fuegos.

“There’s a part of me that wants to remind people that Puerto Rico is a part of the U.S.,” Amini said. “I haven’t necessarily heard people speak as if it is not, but I do feel like it really highlights the awkward relationship that Puerto Rico has with the U.S. At the same time … the fact that I’m putting (the benefit) on — I personally have an investment in connecting people to the culture of Puerto Rico and the relationship, in my opinion, that we can embrace it not like a separate country, but as a beloved part of our unique country.”

Ticket sales, ¡Chiringa! CD sales and wine sales donated by Elixir Wine Group will benefit the Community Sustainability Center created by Programa de Educación Comunal de Entrega y Servicio (P.E.C.E.S.) in Punta Santiago, Humacao, on the southeastern coast of the island.

The organization, which has a 30-plus year history working on economic and educational development issues in disadvantaged communities, is starting to focus on sustainability initiatives on the island. These include rebuilding houses, installing a solar-powered water filtration system, building a solar energy system for the P.E.C.E.S. alternative high school and providing legal assistance for people who need help with insurance claims or Federal Emergency Management Agency applications, according to Dayani Centeno-Torres, a communication consultant for P.E.C.E.S.

“The first move, of course, was to provide water and food to the people,” Centeno-Torres said recently from Puerto Rico, “because being in a mostly isolated area, because of the hurricane, it took days for first responders from government to get to the community. So (P.E.C.E.S.) began cleaning the streets and checking on people. And eventually when roads were opened, the organization became a regional distribution center for the area. They’ve been doing this for two months, but now they want to go into the next level of service, which is very natural for the work that they’ve done before in terms of community work.”

When Centeno-Torres spoke with GO! Magazine, the majority of the island had access to water, although still under a boil-water advisory, and approximately 50 to 60 percent of power generation had been restored on the island, she said. (She spoke from the capital, San Juan, which just got power back about a week ago, she said. Humacao does not have internet or phone access.)

“But that doesn’t mean that 50 to 60 percent of people have power, because generation doesn’t translate into distribution necessarily,” she said. “There’s a lot of people without power, especially in the center of the island and on the eastern coast because of the impact of the winds. And at some places, it’s been said that they won’t have power until February or March.”

Centeno-Torres said P.E.C.E.S. will probably have to keep providing basic assistance with food and water for another month. The organization should be able to move to the next level of rebuilding sometime in January, she said. A GoFundMe page it started in early October has raised more than $25,000 of its $50,000 goal.

“For me, I’m still in shock to think that at this point, we still have to work with water and food,” Centeno-Torres said. “I would love to be at another point, but it’s amazing how difficult it has been for people to get back to some sense of normalcy so they can go to the next level.”

The organization’s focus on sustainable rebuilding caught Amini’s attention. Her aunt and godmother still live in Puerto Rico, and Amini reached out to them to figure out which organization on the island to hold the benefit concert for.

“What (Centeno-Torres) said to me that really struck me was that food and water is not the most helpful right now,” Amini said. “It’s helpful, it’s great. That’s what people go to; they think that’s what they need. Money is most helpful right now, but money obviously going towards organizations that have good strategies in place and projects in the works.”

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