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By Julio Fuentes • October 9, 2017

FSHCC Announces Puerto Rico Family Response Center

Puerto Rico will never be the same. Although it will always be “La Isla del Encanto,” its beaches and people will be dramatically affected for many years. What the Island has experienced is far worse than social media and press conferences can convey – it is human tragedy. The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (FSHCC) has partnered with Latino Leadership (LL) to create the Puerto Rico Family Response Center to help families reunify in Florida and restart their lives through the most seamless transition possible.

The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Latino
Leadership are coming together for the people of Puerto Rico. Both organizations have deep roots serving the Hispanic community in Florida and provide the ideal synergy for families relocating to the State. Already possessing an established network of resources, the Partnership’s goal is to ensure that families are connected to vital resources to facilitate integration into Florida’s communities and economy.

Some estimates put the exodus of Puerto Ricans close to 100,000. These people and families will require assistance regaining normal, functional life routines. FSHCC and LL anticipate the major functions of the Puerto Rico Family Response Center to be:

▪ Emergency Relief Items
▪ Employment Services
▪ Education Placement
▪ Health Referrals
▪ Disaster Relief Paperwork
▪ Housing Referrals

The Puerto Rico Family Response Center will establish an initial location at Latino Leadership’s headquarters in Central Florida. The office address is 8617 E. Colonial Drive, Suite 1200, Orlando, FL 32817. Current organizational offering at Latino Leadership include housing counseling, a 10-person computer lab, and special needs services, in addition to a robust referral services network. This Response Center will amplify the organization’s current commitment to enrichment services.

A team of qualified individuals will serve as the liaison between displaced families and community resources. FSHCC’s network of business members will serve as a vital resource for connecting evacuees with employment opportunities throughout the State. As US citizens, Puerto Ricans will be able to join Florida’s workforce upon arrival.

Aware of the immediacy of the need, Latino Leadership, working with the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is confident it can begin facilitating transitions quickly – with the proper support and resources. And the need is now: because of Latino Leadership’s track record of service, two Puerto Rican news outlets have shared the organization’s contact information.

Watch the video here.

Without the support of corporate partners, and the additional involvement of the FSHCC, the organization’s ability to be dutifully responsive to the community will be hindered. But with the right funding it is a great undertaking that will be executed with cultural- and linguistic competence.

From Latino Leadership’s ‘boots on the ground’ perspective, having spent more than 5 days on the Island in the immediate aftermath of the storms, rapid response will be taken care of by numerous agencies. The fear and uncertainty lies in displaced families’ needs once the media focus subsides and moves onto the next big disaster. The partnership anticipates this will be a long-term project that needs your attention and support now. Tomorrow is a day too late.

To date, the organization has already provided services to more than 2,000 evacuees in Florida and Puerto Rico. This number will continue to grow as the despair sets in.

FLORIDA HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: incorporated as a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization, the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (FSHCC) was founded in 2000 in response to the tremendous growth of Florida’s Hispanic population. The FSHCC actively promotes the economic growth and development of Hispanic entrepreneurs and represents the interests of over 604,000 Hispanic-owned businesses across the state that together contribute in excess of $90 billion to Florida's economy each year.

LATINO LEADERSHIP: Incorporated as a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization in 2001, Latino Leadership’s mission is to guarantee the welfare of our children by helping to create a model, strong, and vibrant Hispanic community through leadership development and empowerment, education advancement, and economic community development.