Supporting Estamos Listos (We are Ready) Campaign
When Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico in 2017, many islanders migrated to the Lehigh Valley. This diaspora created a sudden influx of people in need of housing, food, education, health care, and other services.
Lehigh Valley agencies responded by creating the Estamos Listos (We are Ready) Campaign in order to help residents of Puerto Rico displaced by the hurricane to relocate successfully in the Lehigh Valley. CACLV led the effort to hire three “relocation advocates” to help families navigate the social services in the Valley.
LVCF made a grant to the Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley in Bethlehem to support a position enabling them to hire Marly Rodriguez, as the The Community Empowerment Program (CEP) Community Resource Coordinator. CEP helps individuals and families develop their capacity to access resources including health insurance, food, housing, employment, quality care and health information.
Rodriguez facilitates communications and client empowerment in interactions with health care/social service systems and she translates and interprets for clients working with health care and social service providers. Rodriguez notes that many challenges have remained long after the initial influx of people to the region after Hurricane Maria, as many people have stayed in the region. She spends much of her time helping people find employment, deal with the language differences, help with transportation, and coordinate English as a second language classes. “Many of the jobs people get are temporary, so we may see the same people back in our office seeking additional assistance in a variety of ways,” Rodriguez said. “I find it very gratifying to be able to help so many people here at the Center.”
Two other positions supported by other funders were hired to assist at Casa Guadalupe and the Hispanic American Organization in Allentown. The three agencies continue to meet to coordinate the needs of families impacted by the hurricane and others.
See this and other stories in the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation Annual Report 2017-18