Aracellis' Story

Imagine not being able to go grocery shopping because you’re not physically able to do it.

That’s the reality for 37-year-old Aracellis Velazquez. She has limits. Not only is it difficult for her to find and use transportation, Aracellis cannot carry grocery bags–nevermind getting them up the stairs of her second floor apartment in New Haven.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic and crippling disease that has caused painful inflammation to Aracellis’ joints. Once wheelchair bound, she opted to have double hip and knee replacement surgeries shortly before age 30, which allowed her to walk for the first time in her adult life.

“A lot of people don’t understand, but it’s hard with stairs,” said Aracellis.

One blessing she counts? The free groceries carried up to her apartment by volunteers at FISH of Greater New Haven. The fruits, vegetables, and meats are delivered with kindness and compassion.

United Way believes that every person in every community should have access to healthy food.

FISH is one of the food providers we partner with to fight food insecurity in our region.

The first time she received the groceries, she was in shock.

“I couldn’t believe it. It’s a blessing. I was overwhelmed.”

One of the biggest surprises in one of her deliveries was the spice turmeric. Turmeric is known for its properties that help in decreasing inflammation, stiffness and pain associated with her disease. It’s something she’d read about for years, but didn’t have the opportunity to try until now.

Originally from the Bronx, Aracellis moved to New Haven two years ago. She lives with her fiance, and children, 2-year-old Skylah and 14-year-old Miguel.

Although she cannot carry her toddler, let alone a load of groceries, she remains positive. Cooking healthy meals for her family makes her proud, and it’s a way United Way is helping local parents raise strong and healthy children.

“I can’t do it the way you do it, but I get it done,” said Aracellis.

United Way believes that every person in every community should have access to healthy food.