Thursday, October 26, 2017

El Refugio and other efforts to coordinate relief for Puerto Rico and displaced families coming to North East Ohio

In Cleveland there has been an outpouring of support for the relief efforts in Puerto Rico and a growing coordination of services and assistance for those displaced from Puerto Rico due to medical and overall infrastructure problems on the Islands.

In total, estimates are that more than 300 tons of donated materials, supplies and medical goods have been shipped to Puerto Rico from North East Ohio.  More than $150,000 has been donated to relieve efforts in Puerto Rico and for helping families arriving in North East Ohio.

The generosity is not surprising given that North East Ohio is home to the State of Ohio's largest Puerto Rican population.  Of the total 110,000 people of Puerto Rican origin in the state, Cleveland has the largest share with over 30,000 and our Metro area has over 63,000, or two-thirds of the total in the State.

REF: Lorain and Cleveland have strong ties to Puerto Rico: Statistical Snapshot, By Rich Exner,, 10/13/2017

Now five weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean, families and organizations across North East Ohio have begun taking in relatives and helping others that have been displaced settled into life in Ohio.  As the major relieve efforts to get goods to Puerto Rico winds down, our community is coming together to assist families coming to North East Ohio.

The following are some organizational documents, minutes and notes for some of the efforts here in Cleveland.  Government officials, non-profit organizations, faith-based organizations and community leaders are called on to help join in the collaboration and share information about their activities and efforts to ensure the maximum amount of assistance and effectiveness for the relief and assistance efforts here in North East Ohio, in Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean.

Monetary and materials and supply donations are still needed, as the relief and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico are anticipated to take months to years, and efforts to assist families coming to North East Ohio are anticipated to increase in the next few weeks and months.  It is already estimated that more than 200 people have traveled from Puerto Rico to North East Ohio since September 20th.  That number could grow to thousands for the region through this coming Spring.

Please consider donating money for the relieve and assistance efforts in Puerto Rico and North East Ohio.

MONETARY DONATIONS are encouraged to be made to:

The Cleveland Foundation's online giving platform for Greater Clevelanders to help support the ongoing hurricane recovery and relief efforts in the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Donations are being accepted through Nov. 30, 2017.  Note that all donations are to be delivered to the Puerto Rico Community Foundation for disbursement and use in hardest hit areas.  More than $100,000 has been raised so far in North East Ohio with generous donations from Cleveland Foundation, The Jewish Federation of Cleveland and KeyBank.


To help families arriving in Cleveland and surrounding areas:

To help families arriving in Lorain County:


Both the Spanish American Committee in Cleveland and El Centro in Lorain are also taking material donations.  In addition the following organizations listed below are also collaborating to receive and disburse donations to needy families that are re-settling in North East Ohio.  These organizations also help need families in general in the Cleveland and Lorain and surrounding areas.  Agencies are not encouraging donations of goods and supplies to be made for the relieve efforts in Puerto Rico at this time.

Needed Items:
  • winter coats
  • gloves, and scarves
  • sweaters
  • school uniforms
  • toiletries; soap, diapers, shampoo, tooth brushes, tooth paste, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, facial tissue, deodorants, body washes and lotions
  • shoes, socks and winter boots
  • household cleaning supplies
  • blankets, sheets, pillows

Iglesia Nueva Vida
, Holmden Ave, Cleveland, OH 44109,  Pastor Jose Reyes, 216-741-0511,

May Dugan Center, 4115 Bridge Ave, Cleveland, OH 44113, Andy Trares, Deputy Director, 216-631-5800 xtn 121,

La Sagrada Familia Church, 7719 Detroit Rd, Cleveland, OH 44102, Elizabeth Martinez, 216-631-2888,

Collaborating Organizations

If you would like your organization to be added to the list of donation drop-off sites, or to be included in local organizing efforts for El Refugio and more, please contact Taylor Henschel at 216-664-4238,

Organizing Efforts to assist people coming to North East Ohio

Pastor Jose Reyes of Iglesia Nueva Vida began to convene meetings several weeks ago for the creation of "El Refugio".  The documents provided below are related to that work.

El Refugio - Introductory Document by Brian Cummins on Scribd

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