Finding hope at UnidosUS Affiliate Hispanic Center of Western Michigan

Every year, UnidosUS launches a Photo and Story Contest for our Affiliate Network to elevate the important work we are doing together. Through this contest, we want to highlight the photos and stories of individuals or families whose lives have been changed and improved thanks to the work of our Affiliates throughout the country. This contest provides direct accounts from Affiliate community members, and we are pleased to represent all these different voices of the Latino experience in the United States.

Thank you to all our Affiliates who participated, and congratulations to our winners: Northwest Side Housing Center and Hispanic Center of Western Michigan (Hispanic Center).

Below we present the first-person account of Ivelisse and Constanza García, a mother and daughter who left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria destroyed their home. After many hurdles, they found the hope and the help they needed in the Hispanic Center. This is their story below as told by Ivelisse and Constanza and Hispanic Center of Western Michigan.

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Hispanic Center of Western Michigan logl

“My mother and I left Puerto Rico after our house was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. We were left homeless and without access to food or water. My mom is blind, and she suffers from diabetes and we had no medication or anything to treat her with. We had decided to stay with some distant family members thinking they would help us out since they are family, but they instead robbed us of our money, clothes, and what little else we had. I had to drop out of school and work full-time to be able to support my mother.

I was frustrated and tired of being treated badly and being overworked so I decided to find help, after searching I found the Hispanic Center and decided that visiting and asking wouldn’t hurt. Through them we received a place to stay and my mother got full coverage from Medicaid and the medical attention that she needed.

Later this year I got a boyfriend and he began abusing me, my mom kicked me out of the house because of him, I spent a full night outside by a bus stop thinking that I might as well die because I had nothing to look forward to. In the morning I remembered the Hispanic Center and that they had helped me once before so maybe they could do it again.

Immediately they pitched in and were able to get me some food and after some searching and calls, they were able to find me a place to stay for the weekend along with a phone. We contacted my mom and they were able to put us on good terms again, so I returned back home.

Right now, I am going back to school with the GED classes that are offered at the Hispanic Center, I’m in a woman’s support group to cope with the abuse I went through. Both my mom and I are attending counseling to better our relationship and work our differences out and it’s all thanks to the Hispanic Center.”

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