MIAMI-DADE, Fla. – For a group of Cuban women in Miami, the struggles of the families back home are not forgotten. They have raised about $10,000 to send back to the Communist island that they left behind decades ago.
Rita Pinto, who is Local 10 News Nicole Perez's grandmother, founded Las Damas de Preston, a group with nearly two dozen members. Most of them were born in the town of Preston, now known as Guatemala, in the province of Holguin. The poverty there haunts them.
"We collect money and send it to Cuba, to Central Preston, our town, because people there are having a bad time," Pinto said. "There is no money, no food, no clothes."
For the last 11 years, their fundraisers include raffles of items made in Cuba and monthly luncheons at the Islas Canarias Restaurant near Westchester. Some six to seven families rely on their support.
Pinto said she treasures the handwritten thank you letters that they receive from Cuba. Janet Talavera agrees and she enjoys that "old writing that is so classy from Cuba." Rivero said the families' gratitude drives her to continue the meetings.
"Preston has suffered a lot," said Alicia Rivero, a Damas de Preston member. "We will continue [helping them] until we are so old we cannot come."