Who Are We?

Community Without Limits, or Comunidad Sin Limites, is a project in partnership with community member Lydia Velez Herrera, founder of Lilly Sin Barreras. The research project strives to create a best practice method for future natural disasters that cause mass influx of immigrants into a city. Research for this project focused specifically on the Puerto Rican migration to  Hartford, CT after Hurricane Maria. Lilly Sin Barreras is a local human services consultant in Hartford that, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, developed strong relationships with displaced families that migrated to the city.  Lydia Velez Herrera has continuously proven her commitment to assisting the displaced families in Hartford. Her proposal to the Liberal Arts Action Lab asks us to explore the successes and failures in providing aid to the families displaced by Hurricane Maria. 

As a result, the goal of the Community Without Limits/Comunidad Sin Limites is to determine which sources of aid were most beneficial to the displaced families, what the challenges to providing aid were, and which successes in transitioning to life in a new city that the displaced people experienced. Our research was guided by the following research questions:

1) What were the experiences of migrant families after moving to Hartford, Connecticut after Hurricane Maria?

2) What intervention methods were most effective in helping displaced families adjust to life in Hartford, Connecticut? Why were they effective? 

3) What were the limitations of these interventions? 

Ultimately, our research allowed for us to produce one guideline for institutions providing aid, and one guideline for displaced families looking for aid. The institutional guideline provides institutions that offer aid to displaced families with proper protocol on how to effectively provide aid specific to their field of services. On the other hand, the guideline for the families is intended to show displaced individuals where they can find aid in all aspects of transitioning into life. 

Meet the Team:

Olivia Painchaud – Trinity College

Why Community Without Limits?

My interest in Hispanic studies and the various research papers I have written regarding the extensive Puerto Rican population in Hartford were the major factors that played into my participation in this research project. I have always been interested in learning how communities organize and mobilize when addressing an issue. To learn Hartford’s process of community mobilization and to determine the successes and failures of the action that was taken was an amazing opportunity that fit perfectly into my fields of study.

Christian Gardner – Capital Community College

Why Community Without Limits?

Growing up I have always gravitated towards people of Hispanic/Caribbean descent. Being a Jamaican citizen also brings forth an interest in the lives of non-Americans as well. Due to this, my interest in how these Puerto Rican families adjusted to life in a new place after such a tragedy was sparked. I have also been trying to find a way to learn more about Hartford and integrate myself into the community as I have been a resident for many years. This course seemed like a great opportunity to do this, so I jumped on it when it was offered to me.

Maria Jose Martinez – Trinity College

Why Community Without Limits?

I remember actively receiving news updates about Hurricane Maria, the natural disaster that devastated the island of Puerto Rico; however, I also recall not having conversations with my surroundings back in Texas about the issues the displaced families were struggling with. Such a lack of conversation left me with the desire to learn more about the effects that Hurricane Maria caused. This course further sparked an interest to take action to learn and understand the events that occurred after the natural disaster, which encouraged me to be part of the Liberal Arts Action Lab.

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