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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage: Non-profit still helping Puerto Rican families impacted by Hurricane Maria

As we continue to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month, we talked to the organizer of a local non-profit helping hundreds across Tampa Bay impacted by Hurricane Maria.

In the four years since Hurricane Maria leveled homes and left many in Puerto Rico without power, some people who’ve relocated to Tampa Bay are still struggling. 

It’s why Jeannie Caderin, founder of Somos Puerto Rico started a non-profit to help. "Somos Puerto Rico" means “We Are Puerto Rico."

“I tell everyone it’s not easy but it’s possible. You’re going to have to work hard and you’re going to have to make some changes," she said.

In aftermath of the 2017 hurricane, Jeannie jumped into action collecting and delivering relief supplies.  

“Touching lives one person at a time. It is my passion,” Calderin said. “I help people find the resources they need to be successful here in the mainland.”

Jeannie says she couldn’t do it alone. Her call for supplies was met by hundreds across Tampa Bay giving what they can.

Even though Hurricane Maria is gone, the need within the Hispanic community is still great. Jeannie helps with everything from insurance to unemployment, medical appointments, housing and more.

“There’s a lot of things the Hispanic community is missing because of the language barriers and things they don’t know or understand.”

Jeannie says helping others is part of her Heritage. Her mission is to inspire, not just Puerto Ricans, but people of all ethnicities, to gain independence and achieve success.

“I try to give them the tools so they can succeed. It’s not about putting a little band-aid and telling people to do this or that. In the long term, how can we help them succeed and be self-sufficient.”

While a lot of good work is being done here in our area, Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Maria four years later. Their power grid has not been fully repaired or modernized since the storm.

RELATED: Census data shows rapid growth of Hispanic community in Polk County

RELATED: Tampa music teacher says move to America from Mexico gave him greater understanding of his culture