HARTFORD, Conn. — In North Hartford sits a white two-story home, where partners Ingmar Riveros and Xyomi De La Cruz created the growing local service project, La Bodeguita de la Gente.
With the simple vision of making an impact, they turned their hardships into inspiration.
"What we're doing is paying back what this country has given us," explained Riveros.
He said the goal of La Bodeguita de la Gente - which means the "Little Store of the People" - is to give hope support and essentials to families.
Key things De La Cruz said helped her when she arrived in the United States as a Peruvian refugee, single mother, and domestic violence survivor.
"Today I do it from my heart, I do it because I've been through it and I know what these families need," De La Cruz passionately explained.
Riveros agreed and said there's also a need for community outreach programs, which is why the local service program also hosts impactful community programs for domestic violence, mental health, inclusion, and immigration deportation.
Every Tuesday, the duo hosts a mobile food pantry -- supplying families with food, clothing, diapers, toiletries, and vital necessities.
"With us, you're either going to need a shopping cart, or you're going to have to have a vehicle because we do give a lot," emphasized Riveros.
Although the service project started as a way to help single mothers during the pandemic, he said it quickly grew into an immigrant community project.
It went from helping eight families to more than two hundred families a week from all backgrounds. He said the process hasn't been easy.
"They just see what's going on right there at the moment, but it's a lot of work," said Riveros.
De La Cruz said it can be especially difficult because many new Americans may not easily trust other people, programs, or organizations.
"That motivates us to keep helping them and keep fighting for them because we really know the necessities these families need to fight day-to-day in order to provide for their kids," she said.
However, despite the challenges, Riveros and De La Cruz said it's for the love of their community and the passion for helping that makes it all worth it.
"We're not going to stop," De La Cruz said holding back tears. "I lived it, and because of that, seeing my kids that today have a dignified home, an education, I'm not going to stop."
La Bodeguita de la Gente will be hosting a community outreach program Thursday, September 23 from 5-7 p.m.
There will be free diapers of all sizes, food, school supplies, free carts up for raffle, and more! CLICK HERE for more information.
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