Gwen Graham work day in Kissimmee connects with Puerto Rico evacuees – Florida Politics (blog)
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham has done enough of her “workdays” now that she’s describing them as her campaign strategy, and midway through her shift Wednesday at a Hispanic grocery store and deli in Kissimmee she was talking more about what she gets to hear than what she wants to offer.
She spent Wednesday stocking shelves, cooking and preparing hot foods, and meeting with customers and employees at La Placita Latina, a tropical meat and produce store in the center of Kissimmee, which is in the heart of Florida’s Puerto Rican community. And largely what she heard was the plight of the Puerto Rico evacuees and the challenge of the community to absorb them, she said.
“Yes, I learned a lot about what it takes to run a grocery store today but more importantly the people I’ve met… and the recognition that we need to do a whole lot more to help the people who have moved here from the island of Puerto Rico to our state. Not just paying lip service to them, but doing more to positively influence their lives, and I do not believe the state of Florida is doing that,” Graham said.
Prescilla Vazquez, who owns the store with her husband Alain Menendez, said the store has five workers who’ve fled Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria made much of the island unlivable, and several of them still are living in motels with their spouses and children on federal vouchers that are about to run out. The same is true of many of the store’s customers and neighbors.
“What does that mean? Are people going to be kicked out on the street?” Graham said. “What we need to be doing, what we should have been doing a long time ago, is looking