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United Way of Pioneer Valley Awards Two Puerto Rico Evacuee Relief Grants

Springfield, MA: United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) and its partners today announced grants to Enlace de Familias and New North Citizens’ Council, aimed at aiding hurricane evacuees from Puerto Rico in our area.  The grants originate from the Puerto Rico Evacuee Assistance Fund, which UWPV formed in conjunction with five other area philanthropic organizations.

“On a per capita basis, Western Massachusetts has one of the nation’s largest communities of displaced people from Puerto Rico, who were forced to leave the island due massive hurricane damage to their homes, businesses, and infrastructure,” explains UWPV CEO Jim Ayres.  “While Puerto Rican residents are struggling to restore power back home, evacuees continue to arrive and join family locally.  In doing so, they face another set of problems including language barriers, recent trauma, and lack of familiarity with their new communities.”

Two grants of $60,000 each will support the continued operation of “welcome centers” in Springfield and Holyoke, run by New North Citizens Council and Enlace de Familias, respectively.  These Centers connect evacuees to resources for housing, education, health care, employment assistance, food, mental health support, clothing, and household items.

The recipient organizations were chosen because they are trusted within the local Puerto Rican community and have appropriate abilities and resources to help.  Both agencies were designated as welcome centers by the Cities of Springfield and Holyoke, which have been actively involved in these efforts.

United Way of Pioneer Valley organized the Puerto Rico Evacuee Assistance Fund in close partnership with the Beveridge Family Foundation, Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Health New England, the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, and Western Mass United for Puerto Rico, all of which are significant donors.

Additional support has come from local businesses such as Excel Dryer, Monson Savings Bank, and Harry Grodsky & Company.  The fund is separate from and supplemental to UWPV’s annual Community Campaign.

United Way of Pioneer Valley and its partners will continue to raise funds and invest in resources to support these new community members.

If you would like to help fund these efforts, UWPV invites you to visit uwpv.org/donate.

About United Way of Pioneer Valley: United Way of Pioneer Valley has been a leading hub of community organization, advocacy, and charitable giving in Western Massachusetts for over 95 years.