Photo File: Rhode Island State Senator Sandra Cano of Pawtucket and Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa

CENTRAL FALLS/ PAWTUCKET, RI – Rhode Island State Senator Sandra Cano of Pawtucket and Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa have announced the creation of a community relief fund to be administered by Progreso Latino and Fuerza Laboral to support the undocumented community. Hundreds of vulnerable families are barely getting by without an income in the cities of Central Falls and Pawtucket, which have both been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the generous support of the Rhode Island Foundation, United Way of Rhode Island and other donors, more than $170,000 has been made available to provide direct assistance to families that are unable to access unemployment benefits and other assistance programs at this time. Mayor Diossa and Senator Cano have committed to continue raising money for this fund.

“Already vulnerable undocumented families in Pawtucket and Central Falls have been pushed to the brink by the coronavirus,” said State Senator Sandra Cano. “Many have lost their jobs, have no source of income, and do not qualify for state and federal programs to help make ends meet during this crisis. That’s why we have created the Family Relief Fund and partnered with leading organizations Progreso Latino and Fuerza Laboral to immediately distribute aid to help these members of our community through this incredibly difficult time.”

“We cannot say thank you enough to the Rhode Island Foundation, United Way of Rhode Island and other donors for stepping up so quickly to generously support the creation of the Family Relief Fund during this time of need for our community,” said Central Falls Mayor James Diossa. “Helping these families with basic needs while also connecting them with COVID-19 testing and health care resources will be critical in our efforts to address the equity issues we are seeing with our population contracting the coronavirus at disproportionately high rates.”

Family Relief Fund aid will be distributed by two leading local nonprofit organizations with deep roots in Pawtucket and Central Falls: Progreso Latino, the state’s largest Latino direct services agency, and Fuerza Laboral / Power of Workers, a grass-roots advocacy organization that fights to protect workers and their families. Both organizations will work closely with the City of Central Falls and Pawtucket to get the word out about the family relief fund and to expedite the delivery of aid.

Individuals in need can call 401-727-7474. Examples of assistance the Family Relief Fund will provide include: help paying rent, help paying utilities, and any other essential expenses.

“As our community continues to face considerable challenges, we welcome and deeply appreciate the generosity and support of the Rhode Island Foundation and the United Way of Rhode Island, among other donors,” said Mario Bueno Executive Director of Progreso Latino and Heiny Maldonado, Executive Director of Fuerza Laboral. “Our organizations are committed to helping the community get through this unprecedented health care and economic crisis, and the Family Relief Fund will truly be the lifeline that so many undocumented Central Falls and Pawtucket families need right now.”