HFC has also been able to volunteer at the Resource Center at the Orlando International Airport alongside the United Way. HFC volunteered as well at the Orlando Cares event at the Orange County Convention Center. We helped to prepare over 600 meals for Puerto Rico. In addition, HFC volunteered at the Puerto Rico Relief Event in First Kissimmee at UMC where resources were given out, such as DCF resources, food, and school supplies.
Puerto Rico #SeLevanta!
In early October, HFC became a donation collection center for Puerto Rico and Mexico. Anyone donating items had the option of specifying how and where they wanted their donations to go. These donations were sent in a private plane to Puerto Rico and Hispanic Family Counseling Inc. covered the shipping costs. Other donations were channeled to those in the island through the Disciples of Christ Hispanic Church in Casselberry.
The aftermath of Hurricane Maria has been overwhelming to the Hispanic community in Central Florida. It has impacted me personally as I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and still have my parents, family and many friends living on the island. As a result, my agency, Hispanic Family Counseling Inc. (HFC), has taken a leadership role in this and has been working hand-in-hand with the Central Florida community to assist the many displaced Puerto Ricans arriving to Central Florida.
The need is not only in Puerto Rico, but in Central Florida as well. In the year 2000, the population of Puerto Rico was 479,000 people. Since then, it has grown to over a million people, and keeps increasing exponentially. After Hurricane Maria, approximately 168,000 Puerto Ricans have flown into Florida, and an additional 100,000 are booked to arrive before December 31st. That is a total of 268,000 Puerto Ricans coming into Florida to escape the aftermath of the storm. At HFC, we have been offering support groups free of charge for anyone experiencing acculturation issues as they arrive in Central Florida, as well as support to the current community members who now have an increased amount of responsibility for caring for family and friends arriving here.
We have also been a part of various community events that are receiving Puerto Ricans. One of these events was the Family Fall Festival at a Disciples of Christ Hispanic Church in Casselberry, where FEMA was offering resources to newly arrived families. HFC attended a community dialogue at Calvary Church, where community leaders discussed ways to help the newly arrived community members.
Last, but not least, HFC will go as an agency, with a team of therapists, on the second week of December to Puerto Rico to provide services free of charge to those in need. There are already agencies, such as "La Perla de Gran Precio" and "El Gran Joshua," among others, requesting mental health services for their patients. We are honored to be able to provide these services during this difficult moment and are preparing diligently.
The work is far from over, we know, but HFC will not be deterred. We are a family – as an agency, as a community – and we will continue to come together, our hands and hearts joining as we stand once again, saying in unison with powerful voices, “#PRSeLevanta!”
With peace and love,
Denisse Centeno-Lamas, LCSW
Hispanic Family Counseling, Inc.
© 2017 All rights reserved