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Relief Center In Bridgeport Welcomes Puerto Ricans Displaced By Hurricane

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim addresses the crowd at the opening of the Puerto Rico Relief Center.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim addresses the crowd at the opening of the Puerto Rico Relief Center. Photo Credit: Facebook

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Bridgeport opened its Puerto Rico Relief Center this week, telling those affected by Hurricane Maria they should feel at home in the city whether they plan to stay a short time or relocate permanently.

“We welcome you from Puerto Rico to this community,” said Mayor Joe Ganim. “This is not our community welcoming you now. This is your community.”

Career Resources Inc., the American Job Center, The WorkPlace, and the Department of Labor have partnered to create the center. The initiative aims to help families transition from the island to Bridgeport through employment assistance and referrals for housing, healthcare, food, clothing and other essentials.

Nonprofits, community leaders and other residents are working together and have donated food and supplies to prepare welcoming packets for the families.

In giving a blessing at the opening of the center on All Saints Day, Mayoral Aide Alma Maya said she looked up the definition of the word saint and came across terms such as founder, sponsor and patron.

Looking around the room at 2 Lafayette Square, she said, “we are all saints.”

“We ask for strength,” she said. “We ask for wisdom as we move forward, as we walk through the path that He has laid out for us.”

Last month, Maya traveled to Puerto Rico to bring back her mother, who was seriously affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria. About 20 percent of Bridgeport residents are of Puerto Rican heritage and many have welcomed family members into their homes.

Joe Carbone, CEO of The WorkPlace, said he and his staff are dedicated to helping those who’ve made the journey to Bridgeport.

“This is Bridgeport,” he said. “And it’s where people care about their neighbors. We’re not going to stop. We’re going to do everything we can to welcome and help people to adapt, to adjust and to get settled.”

The relief center will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays. You can contact the center at 203-953-3272.

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