More than a year after Hurricane Maria, a deadly category 5 storm, tore through Puerto Rico causing flooding, extensive structural damage and some 3,000 deaths, people are still trying to rebuilt their homes and lives.

Alvida Ortiz a nurse at the local JNESO president at Hoboken University Medical Center joined a team of volunteers from The Life Christian Church in West Orange, N.J. to help victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico as part of the Convoy of Hope.

The Convoy of Hope is a faith based, non-profit organization that provides humanitarian aid and helps empower others to live independent lives — free from poverty, disease, and hunger. Their outreach efforts include providing relief to regions affected by natural disasters. Ortiz and members of her church raised money for supplies and donated their time to the rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico.

On this mission Ortiz traded her stethoscope for a tool belt. “It was nonstop work. We manually mixed cement, carried lumber, hammered up walls, put in floors and windows, everything needed to build a home in just one week,” she said.

Ortiz and her team have established a relationship with a pastor at a local church and they plan to try and return three times in 2019 to pick up where they left off. “Our group is planning to go back again because there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Ortiz.