Norwich Public Utilities employees raise money for co-workers' families in Puerto Rico

Norwich — Norwich Public Utilities employees have raised $6,000 to help the families of five NPU employees in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which hit the island on Sept. 20.

NPU customer service representatives Evannie Bocachica, Karla Ithier, Maria Medina and Keana McQueen, along with lineman Elier Alvarado, all have numerous family members who are struggling with every aspect of daily life in Puerto Rico, NPU officials said.

Michele Addabbo, executive assistant to the NPU general manager, led a fundraising campaign among NPU employees that quickly raised $6,000, including $1,000 from the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees.

Organizers of the fundraiser decided to provide unrestricted aid to the individual families rather than make a donation to a large relief organization. Each family received $1,200 through a wire transfer on Nov. 8.

Each family faced a range of challenges, some of which are ongoing, caused by the storm. Some families were unable to account for all relatives for several weeks, and some families were unable to get medical care for sick and injured relatives, and some lost loved ones. Extended families are crowded into small houses, as some lost all personal property. Most still have no electricity and limited cellphone service.

“While the challenges facing the people of Puerto Rico and their families seem insurmountable, the men and women of NPU wanted to provide some level of support for their friends and coworkers,” NPU spokesman Chris Riley wrote in a news release announcing the fundraiser.

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