Maria Alvarenga had given up hope that she would ever be able to fix her house.
Nearly one year after superstorm Sandy wrecked her family’s mobile home in Amityville, Alvarenga, a 47-year-old single mother, her disabled brother, Armando, 49, and four of her children, were still living in the damaged, mold-infested unit.
Her family lost all their furniture and most of their clothing, and everything from the walls to the leaky roof needed to be replaced. But her application for federal assistance had been denied.
Now, thanks to a $1 million grant from the American Red Cross of Long Island, Alvarenga’s family will be one of as many as 500 across Long Island that will be connected to the resources they need to rebuild.
The grant, awarded to the United Way of Long Island, will support three Latino nonprofits who are working together in a new Long Island Red Cross Recovery Center in Deer Park.
“The more we share information, the more we speak to each other, the more impact we can collectively make,” said John Miller, CEO of the American Red Cross of Long Island, at the grand opening of the center on Monday.
The facility will be staffed with bilingual disaster case managers from Adelante of Suffolk County, the Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Centre, and La Fuerza Unida of Glen Cove. Each had been helping Sandy victims navigate the recovery process, but ran short on funding.
“They didn’t have the money to keep case managers in play, but they had the caseloads,” said Theresa Regnante, president and CEO of the United Way of Long Island. She said the grant is designed to help up to 500 families by February 2015.
Regnante said the organizations were selected by United Way because of their ability to cut through language barriers, but help is available to anyone. "Anybody can come through," she added.
Alvarenga has been assigned a case manager from Adelante, and the process of putting together a plan to rebuild her home has already begun.
“I’m very happy,” Alvarenga, a native of Honduras, said via a translator. “My girls will be very happy to see the house repaired and looking pretty again.”