LYNN — July 24 is a day Hugo A. Rivera will forever remember with great joy and great sadness.
His twin daughters, Taliana and Ximena, were born on that day. His wife, Beronica Yesirene Asencio, died giving birth to them.
Today Rivera lives with his twins, barely two months old, and daughters Keiry, 8, and Alison, 2, in an apartment within walking distance of Wyoma Square and a 15-minute drive from the daycare center the younger girls attend. His small living room is dominated by boxes of personal possessions that need unpacking, a double crib for the twins, and a small table.
He has help paying for daycare and half of his rent, but Rivera is scrambling to find a job to replace the one in a restaurant he had to quit in order to care for his children. His only family member is his brother, Jaime, who lives in Winchester.
“I’m looking for anything,” he said.
A helping hand from property management firm Harbor Management and Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development (LHAND) made it possible for Rivera and his daughters to move into their Lynn apartment on Sept. 1.
After paying medical bills and expenses associated with his wife’s funeral, Rivera sought out assistance to feed his children. An application for food stamps introduced him to Kayla Rodriguez, an assistance worker and Harbor Management tenant who brought Rivera’s plight to the attention of Harbor Senior Property Manager Irma Chez.
“She told me his whole story. I told her I had a first-floor unit, deleaded, with air conditioning, near the building’s laundry room,” Chez said.
She said Rivera connected with LHAND Family Success Center worker Lissette Contreras, who got the ball rolling to provide Rivera with help paying for his security deposit and first month’s rent in one of Harbor’s buildings. Rivera’s brother co-signed the required paperwork for him and Rivera was overjoyed to have a home with enough space for his family.
“There is everything here,” he said.
LHAND Executive Director Charles J. Gaeta said Home Base, a state-funded program administered by LHAND, and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless’ Bed For Every Child programs stepped up to help Rivera and his family.
He said a Family Success case manager will continue to assist Rivera over the next 12 months.
“We have a dedicated team at the Center,” said Gaeta.
Chez, a Lynn resident who manages 16 properties in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, said helping Rivera is a strong example of Harbor Management’s commitment to community service. The firm organizes community improvement projects every three months with past projects aiding My Brother’s Table and Habitat for Humanity.
She said Harbor’s values also parallel LHAND’s commitment to the greater Lynn community.
“We all have the same goal: helping families in need. We can help when other people can’t,” she said.
Even as he looks for work, Rivera, an El Salvadoran native, is changing 15 diapers a day and fixing or sterilizing a dozen bottles of formula daily. He snatches sleep when he can get it. A GoFundMe page under his name is accepting contributions and he is grateful for the help he has received to date.
“The community has helped me a lot,” he said.