Spanish American Committee helps Hurricane Maria survivors find shelter in Northeast Ohio

CLEVELAND - Cleveland’s Spanish American Committee is preparing to assist anyone who survived Hurricane Maria by connecting them with families in Northeast Ohio.

“There’s a lot of them that are leaving the island because they don’t want to stay there in those conditions,” said Ramonita Vargas, the executive director of the organization. “This is only the beginning. We already got a call that two other families are coming next week.”

Vargas connected Cleveland resident Elizabeth Crespo with a family of three.

“Many years ago, when I was young, they helped me out so I’m paying it forward,”  said Crespo. “I got involved because I’m Puerto Rican. There’s going to be a lot more refugees coming in. I’m doing my best to accommodate as many as possible.”

Crespo has served as a translator for Keishla Marichal, and her two children, 5-year-old Alfredo and 4-year-old Keneisha.

Kenesha has a heart condition that makes her living situation even more difficult.

“The medicine needed to be in the refrigerator, and we no refrigerator to put her medicine,” said Marichal. “Her specialist said it was more important for her to take medicine than for her to eat food.”
Crespo rehabilitates homes and offered one to Marichal, rent-free for the next two months. The Spanish American Committee will assist her family with resources for food and medical care.


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