Local man donates car to family who lost everything in Hurricane Maria


A family who moved to the Valley after losing everything when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico received a special gift from a new friend this weekend.

Eric Rios is Thrive Mahoning Valley’s first client and success story. The group helps relocate people from Puerto Rico to the Valley.

Thrive Mahoning Valley helped Rios and his family get back on their feet and settled into the area. He now works at Churchill Motors.

“It’s just amazing how people can do these things without expecting nothing back,” said Claraliz Gonzalez, Rios’ wife.

The family has just been gifted a red Cadillac, donated by a man they had never even met before today.

The car was initially donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Youngstown.

“I had a donor stop by and he wanted to donate clothes but then he pointed to his car and said, ‘What about this?’” said St. Vincent de Paul administrator Jessica Robinson.

The donor, Domenica Sciaretta, is retired and didn’t need the vehicle anymore. So instead of selling it, he wanted to help someone out.

“Over the years people have helped me and some people that I have no idea who they were, you know, helped me and I feel that it’s just important for me to sort of pass that on down the line,” Sciaretta said.

So, Rios was handed the keys to his brand new car on Saturday.

“When the storm pass comes the good days, this is my good days,” Rios said.

Rios says having the car gives him a piece of mind because now his wife and children can use it to get to school and other appointments.

“Christians are celebrating the Easter holiday here this weekend and it just makes me feel like this was all meant to be in a way. It was very fortuitous for it to happen this way,” said Christopher Tennant, co-founder of Thrive Mahoning Valley.

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