In the wake of the devastation to the island of Puerto Rico this fall, communities around the United States have mobilized in response to Hurricane Maria and many, including Chicago, have begun welcoming evacuees to recover, rebuild, and, for many, start a new life. The Humboldt Park Fieldhouse has been designated as the official Hurricane Resource Center for Chicago. The Fieldhouse has been open every Monday and Tuesday from 10am to 4pm to connect evacuees with government agencies, non-profits, and relief organizations.
Several LUCHA staff have operated a table each day at the Fieldhouse. Administrative Manager, Maria Galarza, and Receptionist, Simone Poulos, have regularly dedicated their time to help evacuees fill out applications for LUCHA properties and help them navigate throughout the Resource Center to ensure they obtain emergency groceries, warm coats, and school information for their children.
“We’ve met people with masters’ degrees, and mothers with 3 kids who have lost everything,” said Poulous. Puerto Ricans have survived and are surviving in spite of overwhelming odds, but the fight isn’t over. Making it to the United States and out of harm’s way doesn’t mean that their life will be any easier here. Galarza knows – as someone who grew up in Puerto Rico, she has survived three hurricanes herself.
With the need so great, what do evacuees need the most?
“A roof over their head…a bed to sleep in, and a coat. It’s winter here,” remarked Poulous.
“And also a job…If you don’t have a job, you aren’t going to make it here,” Galarza chimed in.
The road to self-sufficiency is long, and LUCHA will continue to reach out to evacuees. For more information, call our office at (773) 276-5338.