Bridgeport-area non-profits, community leaders, government officials and educators came together to find a way to help those impacted by Hurricane Maria and choosing to relocate to Connecticut.
The groups have inspired the opening of the Puerto Rico Relief Center. This center will be a one-stop resource to help, local residents who have welcomed, or plan to, family and friends from Puerto Rico and the surrounding islands which were devastated recently by hurricanes.
Many of these families will be in need of help to transition to living in Connecticut and children will be adjusting to new schools and possibly learning in a new primary language.
United Way is proud to be part of this true grassroots community effort.
Residents in need of assistance can visit or contact the center Tuesdays through Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 2 Lafayette Square, or call 203-953-3272.
There will be a multitude of resources available including, job assistance, and referrals for housing, health care, transportation, food and clothing.
Rosa Correa, the center coordinator said at the official ribbon cutting, “We will work with families, many with real problems,” promising it to be a long-term commitment.
Bridgeport has one of the largest Puerto Rican populations in the state. And the center has started working with 30 families who because of the hurricane have come to live with local relatives.
“This is your community,” Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Make this a welcoming place to live.”
Recent fundraisers in the city and surrounding area have raised more than $70,000, said Correa. There also have been collections of supplies. At noon on Wednesday, a truck filled with donations collected at Housatonic Community College was to arrive at the center.
Scott Appleby, director of emergency management for the city, said the state has put in a request for a Federal Emergency Management Agency specialist to work on behalf of Bridgeport and Hartford to provide disaster relief that arriving victims need.
“We want to make sure no one falls through cracks,” Appleby said.
Residents of Coastal Fairfield County who want to help their neighbors in need can contact the center directly to arrange fundraisers or drives.
Some items the center has identified to fulfill immediate needs are:
Personal care - feminine hygiene
Supplemental non-perishable food items