YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Thrive Mahoning Valley is an organization dedicated to helping people relocate to the Valley from Puerto Rico. Co-founder Justin Mondok thinks a welcoming hand should be something that comes naturally to a community.
“It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. If you are coming to the Mahoning Valley, you should be welcomed,” he said.
Mondok and co-founder Christopher Tennant want to make life as easy as possible for those who lost everything. For someone like Eric Rios, Thrive Mahoning Valley has made a world of difference.
Rios works at Churchill Motors. He moved to the Valley in the fall. It’s a huge change for a man who planned to live out his life in his native Puerto Rico but when Hurricane Maria came, everything changed.
Rios and his family lost everything in the hurricane. They moved to Youngstown to stay with a relative who connected them with Thrive Mahoning Valley. The organization gave the Rios family everything they needed and even helped Eric find a job.
“When you work in someplace that you really love, you are not working. You are having fun,” Rios said.
Tennant and Mondok started Thrive Mahoning Valley in the fall. Eric Rios is their first client and success story.
“To see someone coming here and able to succeed, to get a job here at Churchill Motors, it makes me very happy,” Tennant said.
Rios is overwhelmed by the kindness and support. He has never been more excited to start over.
“I don’t have words for that, bro. To give everything to somebody they don’t know, that’s something that you have to look after,” Rios said.
Rios hopes to be able to start his own mechanic shop in the coming years.
Tennant and Mondok are looking forward to getting more traffic on the Thrive Mahoning Valley website. The site is written in both English and Spanish.
Partner organizations include the Raymond John Wean Foundation and the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation.