At Westfield, doing good in the communities where we live and work drives us. As an organization familiar with the impact of disasters, such as Hurricane Maria, 2017 was unprecedented.
Hurricane Maria grabbed headlines this past September but the impact the storm had did not end when TV trucks left. More than 13,000 Puerto Ricans are expected to relocate to the state of Ohio, ranking the state eighth in relocations following Maria. With the majority of individuals arriving in Cleveland, our backyard, we knew we had to take action.
With a focus on disaster recovery and family stability, the Westfield Insurance Foundation worked with existing partners Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) and the Spanish American Committee (SAC)—to find existing and potential gaps in services for Maria-affected families.
Two concerns emerged:
- The capacity to respond to the mass influx of clients who have been arriving from Puerto Rico since September.
- The lack of bilingual, Spanish-speaking nonprofit professionals available to help non-English speaking client’s access services and benefits.
To address these concerns, the foundation quickly awarded two grants:
Cuyahoga Community College received $24,000 in operational grants to support their Hispanic Council and Career Services. The funding allows ten bilingual students to intern as translators for local nonprofits assisting Spanish-speaking individuals and families.
Spanish American Committee was awarded $50,000 in operational grants to conduct faster client intake. A critical first point of contact for individuals and families relocating from Puerto Rico, SAC will also use the funding to expand their services under their Families First program, which provides new arrivals with referrals and assistance with housing, workforce, education, and basic needs.
Westfield is proud to support innovative, local support for Hurricane Maria survivors relocating to Cleveland. We know that people doing good for each other is infectious. To learn how you can help survivors of Maria and other disasters, visit The Center for Disaster Philanthropy.
To learn more about all the nonprofits in northeast Ohio stepping up to help Hurricane Maria evacuees, visit Bienvenidos a Cleveland.