Local company relocates and gives jobs to Puerto Rican evacuees

Published: Jul. 1, 2018 at 10:17 PM EDT
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Puerto Ricans who fled Hurricane Maria are living on FEMA vouchers.

Many have stayed in a hotel in Florida for the last year.

Sunday a judge granted an extension to allow them to use the vouchers until Wednesday.

Kasai North America in Upper Sandusky is an automotive supplier to companies like Subaru and Honda.

HR Manager Jennie Dranschak says the company is in desperate need of workers. The company is recruiting Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria to fill vacant jobs.

Three Puerto Rican families living in Florida on FEMA vouchers moved to Ohio Sunday with the promise of shelter, food, and work.

Diana Ramos is one of the five new Puerto Rican employees at Kasai North America.

Sunday she drove from Orlando, Florida to Findlay, Ohio.

Kasai is paying for her and her son to stay in an extended stay hotel, help her find a permanent home, and give her a job.

Victor Parlier works at Kasai and translates.

"She knew it was a bad situation in Puerto Rico and she knew she did not want to return there because there was nothing really left for her in Puerto Rico. So she went to culinary school in Florida and then when this job situation arrived here in Ohio, she decided to go ahead and jump on this situation," said Parlier.

Jennie Dranschak is an HR Manager at Kasai and she says finding good workers in Upper Sandusky is a challenge.

She saw FEMA vouchers expiring as an opportunity to help her company and the evacuees.

"I would say we have about 40 positions and I plan to fill at least half of those, if not more with these folks. I really like the fact that they're ready to work, they wanna work, and they wanna be here," said Dranschak.

They don't have to have a work visa. They don't have to have a passport. It's just like somebody coming from West Virginia to work," said Dranschak.

Dranschak and Parlier have traveled to Chicago and Orlando working with senators, congressman, and agencies trying to recruit evacuees.

"I knew that in order for them to trust in what we were doing we had to have personal relationships with them, because I know if it were me there's no way I would get on a bus to Ohio not knowing what I was getting into," said Dranschak.

Ramos says she plans to continue culinary school while working at Kasai. She feels relieved to be in Ohio.

In the next few months several other evacuees will be relocated to Ohio to work for Kasai as production associates. Dranschak says they are still recruiting for any qualified applicants in Ohio or anywhere else.