A friend, and fellow HYPE member, asked my partner and I to volunteer at the Relief Center for our Caribbean Friends to support the Puerto Rican relief effort. The Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford organized Jewish young adults in the area to work together. There were few details in the invitation, so we came bundled up; gloves, hats, and heavy coats, ready for anything!
There was an eclectic group that arrived that Sunday afternoon. Young adults, children, and staff from all denominations worked together in the pantry and clothing center. Boxes and boxes of supplies were piled floor to ceiling. As essential as these items are to families arriving in the Hartford area with little or nothing in their possession, organization is important to making an impact. Half of us organized the supplies by food, baby essentials, and toiletry items while the other stocked the market space. When we walked into the relief center, we were taken aback by it’s market area. Families arrive at the center and they’re given boxes to shop. The staff said families with as many as 12 members require food weekly. As items are organized in one room, the shelves are stocked in another.
Supplies are only a part of the support the relief center offers. When families arrive in the city, they’re directed to the center where there is an intake process. They’re asked to describe their situation and journey thus far. They work to set adults up with employment, a safe place for families to stay, and the necessities required to survive. There’s still such a desperate situation in Puerto Rico and people arrive at the center with no plans to return to their home. The relief center is a place of resource and salvation.
I was so glad the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford gave me the opportunity to contribute to the Puerto Rican relief effort. Although minimal support, it was an opportunity to create ease for those experiencing constant discomfort and trauma in their life. Not to mention, a constructive opportunity to meet young people in our community.
For volunteer opportunities contact Darlene Wolliston at 860-240-6668, and for volunteer sign ups, register here.