Making Ends Meet: Maritza Flores

Published on August 31, 2023

For refugees from El Salvador, such as Maritza Flores, 41, the refrain is all too common: violence and political instability prompting families like hers to look for safety and peace. Maritza, her husband, and daughter did just that, ultimately finding refuge in East Boston in 2017. 

It was a challenge. Navigating a new country, a new culture; living in a friend’s basement until her husband found work; suffering an accident at a local park where she fractured her knees and required surgery on both… She admits she got a little depressed. Her husband’s job enabled them to move out of the basement to a small apartment, but the $2500 monthly rent often left them with only $200. What can $200 buy, she asks? And where, she wondered, was that shining beacon of hope they’d imagined when they first considered this journey? 

A woman in sunglasses holds a bushel of turnips outside a food donation site.
Maritza Flores is both a client and a volunteer of Chelsea’s La Colaborativa. Among other services to the Chelsea community, La Colaborativa distributes food to over 3,000 families each week from its distribution site at 63 Sixth Street.

But as she recuperated from surgery, she was able to leave the house and explore. She grew more confident and learned the city’s bus routes. Eventually she discovered the food pantry at La Colaborativa in Chelsea. “Before that, it was difficult,” she recalls. “Imagine coming home to an empty fridge. It’s stressful. But now I can put food on the table. My husband and daughter are happy.” 

But it’s not just about the food, she adds. Her volunteer work for the pantry has engaged and energized her, drawing her out of her sadness. “Privileged” is one word she now uses to describe herself. “Happy,” too. She is part of the community. 

It’s for everyone who needs it. The help is critical. People are benefiting from it.” —Maritza

“It’s not just for me,” she says of the donations that power the pantry’s work. “It’s for everyone who needs it. The help is critical. People are benefiting from it. Those who can’t make ends meet need the pantry.”  

Read more Stories of Hope and the impact of GBFB and our network of partners and supporters.

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