HCC summit explores impact of Irma, Maria on Puerto Rican population

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Holyoke Family Network and the Center for Puerto Rican studies hosted their annual summit at Holyoke Community College Saturday.

The conference is a way to explore the impact of Hurricane Maria evacuees on the Puerto Rican population in New England.

It’s been two years since Hurricane Irma and Maria devastated the island forcing thousands to seek refuge in New England. Since there was such a large spike the in Puerto Rican population, the conference aims to make Puerto Ricans more visible politically, socially, and economically.

Some of the challenges include host families not being able to support evacuees and evacuees not being able to find jobs.

Saturday’s conference was all about discussing the issues that Puerto Ricans face throughout the nation in the wake of the hurricanes.

“This is about not only getting the information but what are we going to do with that information,” Betty Medina-Lichtenstein of Holyoke Family Network explained. “What are the diaspora and those in position are able to do to help Puerto Rico and those who resettle here.”

The summit was hosted by Holyoke Family Network and the Center for Puerto Rican Studies in hopes of building strong connections in the Puerto Rican community.

Director Carlos Vargas-Ramos told 22News, “Trying to create networks that are national in terms so we can attend issues locally that affect Puerto Rico communities.”

The Center for Puerto Rican Studies or Centro is based out of Hunter College in New York. Centro and Holyoke Family Network collaborate every year to host this summit.

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