Meriden opens its arms to families from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s been hard for Isabel Alvelo, who left her home in Puerto Rico right before Hurricane Maria slammed the island, destroying almost everything in its path.

“It hurts,” Isabel said. “I was there for ten years.”

It hurt her 16-year-old son, Jesus, as well. After Isabel made the decision to stay with her sister, Olga, in Meriden, Jesus knew he would never return to the place he called home.

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It was rough.

“He went through a lot of depression when he first got here because I guess he missed his friends,” said Olga, Isabel’s sister. “He was not doing well at all. He was crying.”

But they’ve been getting comfort from the Meriden community. Residents have opened their hearts donating cases of bottled water to The Hispanic Senior Center. Those cases of water will eventually be delivered to Puerto Rico. And Meriden Public Schools have opened their doors to kids from Puerto Rico — like Jesus.

Jesus’s mother and aunt say thanks to their care and concern, his depression is now gone.

“They’re really attentive to him,” Isabel said. “They work with him.”

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“He has gotten awesome grades,” Olga said. “And he loves the school and the teachers have talked very well about him.”

“I do feel blessed,” Isabel said. “I feel blessed because he’s doing well in school. He likes it here, he’s happy.”

And workers at a non-profit in Meriden, called Casa Boriqua, are hoping to keep it that way.

They’re trying to help families from Puerto Rico find affordable housing so they can stay in Meriden.

All of this adds up to one grateful family who may get a new lease on life thanks to the Connecticut kindness on display in Meriden.

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