Heartfelt reunion: Minnesota family welcomes Puerto Rican loved ones thanks to community effort

- Sunshine over the Iverson's home was a good omen Thursday as the family put the finishing touches on a batch of arroz con gandules, the aroma filling the kitchen. 

It's a welcome respite from reality for for Jaz Iverson's parents, Roberto and Candy Marrero, who lost everything when Hurricane Maria decimated their hometown of Aibonito, Puerto Rico. 

It wasn't an easy journey for them, traveling all the way to Minnesota while caring for their son Macho--Jaz' brother--at each step of the way. He relies on an oxygen tank and suffers from spina bifida, as well as a host of other health issues, making it increasingly difficult to care for Macho without electricity or even clean water back on the island commonwealth.

But, less than three weeks after Maria swept their old lives away, the families, along with the Jorge Posada Foundation, managed to raise $15,000 for a charter flight to Miami, then another to Minnesota. 

"I guess putting a face to all the tragedy that's happening is really opening everybody's eyes," Jaz said. "If we didn't have everybody's help, there's no way we would've done it by ourselves."

As the weeks turn into months and the Marrero family settles in, local organizations are continuing the effort to help Puerto Rico rebuild--including events like the concert and fundraiser Thursday night at the Black Dog Cafe in St. Paul, organized by local Puerto Rican musician Maria Isa and other artists.

If you're interested in donating to help the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, visit El Fondo Boricua, a fund of the St. Paul Foundation.

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