Stories of Change

Roxana, Bryan and their children.

The CWS Lancaster team has helped 17 Puerto Rican evacuees find employment in recent months.

Supporting Puerto Rican evacuees as they start over in Lancaster

Our team in Lancaster, Pennsylvania has been supporting newly-arrived refugee families in the area for decades. As Puerto Rican evacuees began to arrive in the area following Hurricane Maria in late 2017, we realized that we could use that experience welcoming families to support these families, too.

Bryan, Roxana and their three children arrived in Lancaster in December. Roxana had 10 years of experience working with customers in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. She had a gift-wrapping business and worked in a local gift-wrapping and sweets shop. When she enrolled in the employment program with CWS Lancaster, she was interested in finding a job with a schedule that would allow her to take her children to school each morning and pick them up after. The Employment Specialist helped Roxana get a job as a Room Attendant at a local hotel that was within walking distance of their home. Not only is she able to still care for her children, but she can use her customer service skills and practice English with the hotel guests.

Bryan was already employed when the family connected with CWS Lancaster, but the Employment Specialist encouraged him to find a job with higher pay and that could better use his skills. He had worked for two years paving roads in Bayamon. The Employment Specialist talked to him about transferring those skills to the construction industry in Lancaster, specifically for a precast cement company. Bryan eventually passed the entry test for the position, and was hired in a permanent, full-time position earning $14.50/hour with comprehensive benefits.

Roxana and Bryan are content with their jobs, and they are doing well. And our team is proud to be able to continue to help our new neighbors settle into Lancaster.

The CWS Lancaster Puerto Rican Evacuee Program supports newly-arrived families with housing and employment support. So far, 17 evacuees have enrolled in the employment program; 12 of them have been placed in full-time jobs. We’ve helped 14 families pay their rent and/or security deposits as they settle into new housing, and we’ve helped 11 families find housing and negotiate a lease.