Middlesex County News

Murphy’s Puerto Rico Relief Commission Looks to Connect Families to Resources

79ad9054ca5306d6304c_39040857190_9b2f220dfc_z.jpg
bdb40d2c282a5fd3edb4_40850293731_36248fb928_z.jpg
79ad9054ca5306d6304c_39040857190_9b2f220dfc_z.jpg

PERTH AMBOY - Stephanie Márquez-Villafañe, president of the student-based Puerto Rican action group Rutgers Unión Estudiantil Puertorriqueña, offers a sobering assessment of New Jersey’s Puerto Rican student community in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. territory in recorded history.

"University students have expressed a lack of available resources to them and while they have housing through the university—which only lasts during the semester—and an available food pantry that meets certain nutritional needs, students feel as though they do not qualify for the aid being offered to other Puerto Rican migrants,” Márquez-Villafañe said, speaking to a roomful of residents March 16 at Perth Amboy’s Brighton Ave. Teen Center.

Villafañe’s account reflected just one of several obstacles facing the Puerto Rican community, obstacles that were documented at the latest meeting of Gov. Phil Murphy’s Commission on Puerto Rico Relief. The 18-member commission assembled by the administration last month is chartered to collaborate with state and federal agencies in order to expedite relief for families in need.

Sign Up for E-News

“It is possible the information is not reaching the students correctly and there are many students struggling with credits and tuition,” Villafañe said.

Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, who is also the Executive Director/CEO of the Puerto Rican Association for Human Development, Inc. (PRAHD), said her office has been looking into providing in-state tuition rates for students affected by the storm, as well as easing the transferal of credits for students who have to spend time on the island with their families.

Commissioner Sam Delgado, VP of external affairs at Verizon, echoed importance of providing assistance to students: “We have to take care of the children and the students now. They need immediate attention now,” he said.

The Commission, created last month by Gov. Murphy through an executive order, works with state agencies to examine services already provided to Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican evacuees in New Jersey. The Commission is also collaborating with federal agencies to expedite processes that will benefit Puerto Ricans in New Jersey in need of services, as well as non-profit agencies that provide safety-net services to all those who have been displaced.



Members of Middlesex County’s Puerto Rican community affected by Hurricane Maria filled the Brighton Ave. Community Center in Perth Amboy last week to seek answers and learn about available resources.  

Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz welcomed the statewide commission and expressed encouragement that their mandate will bolster local efforts.

"When Superstorm Maria hit the island we brought many organizations together to see how we were going to address the families in need. Our social services provided assistance, our businesses created partnerships, we held food drives and sent supplied to the island. We even deployed our local police officers to the island," she said.

But her trip to Puerto Rico in December with then Gov.-elect Murphy amplified the need for a statewide approach.

"I appreciate Gov. Phil Murphy for putting this commission together and to provide us with the know-how to get it done," she said.

Commission Vice Chair Peggy Anastos said an organized system of sustained, cross-silo collaboration was the “only way we’re going to address the broad needs of the Puerto Rican community.

“We’re going to work together to see how New Jersey can work to help the American Citizens of Puerto Rico. We’re going to listen so you can tell us what you need and what your problems are,” she said.

It’s no small task as major obstacles identified for Puerto Rican families include hardships on mortgage payments, utility bills, and reaching the island’s rural areas to provide water and power and creating job training and workforce development programs for Puerto Rican residents relocating to New Jersey.

“This disaster is long-term and it’s going to be intergenerational,” Verizon’s Delgado said. “The goals we propose have to be realistic.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

East Brunswick

East Brunswick: The History of... The East Brunswick Grange

April 18, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - During East Brunswick’s agricultural years, one of the most active organizations in town was the East Brunswick Grange. Granges were fraternities for farmers that helped promote the well-being of farming in the community. There were many granges across the country during the late 19th and early 20th Century, and East Brunswick was certainly no exception. In the period ...

Highland Park: Teen Mom Charged in Death of Newborn

HIGHLAND PARK, NJ - In a tragic turn of events, a teenager from Highland Park was charged in a juvenile complaint with murder in the first degree in the death of her newborn son.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey announced today that a 14-year-old teenage girl from Highland Park has been charged with an act of juvenile delinquency for an offense which if committed by an ...

Veinott’s Vietnam – Time Flies When You Fly Away

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – It’s been nearly a decade since South Plainfield native Philip Veinott packed his bags and moved over 8,500 miles away to start the next chapter of his life. And, a lot has changed – both personally and professionally – for Veinott in that time. 

In August 2016, Veinott married the love of his life, Helen Nguyen, and the couple is expecting ...

Mayor Cohen Celebrates Chelsea's 20th Anniversary

April 18, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ -- Mayor Brad Cohen, an enthusiastic supporter of the Chelsea at East Brunswick, was on hand to help mark the Chelsea's 20th anniversary on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

Mayor Cohen read a proclamation honoring the Chelsea and recalled the experience of his late mother who, at age 102, had hip replacement surgery and lived to be 106. Mayor Cohen is a great friend of the ...

Upcoming Events

Mon, April 30, 7:00 PM

Somerset Valley Playhouse, Hillsborough

Auditions for Smokey Joe's Cafe: The Songs of ...

Arts & Entertainment

Fri, May 4, 7:30 PM

State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick

Wizard of Oz

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_655bff643922e36ca526_color_me_flyer_final_cut__3_-page-001

Sat, May 5, 9:00 AM

Sewaren

Color Me Run to End Domestic Violence

“Weather NJ” Founder To Speak At East Brunswick Public Library

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—New Jersey has experienced several historical weather events. The Friends of the Library are hosting the special program “Meteorology & Historical New Jersey Storms” with Weather NJ founder  Jonathan Carr on Thursday, May 17 at 7:30 pm at the library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center).

The program explains the basics of meteorology, climatology, and a ...

Reading Like Cats and Dogs: EBPL Launches Second “Reading To Action” Program Series

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) begins its second Reading to Action project, which includes a series of events and volunteer projects this April.

The Reading To Action program encourages library customers to be more active in their community. This year's theme is "animals." The library is presenting a variety of programs for ...

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (Citadel Press, 1970)

 

How does a reviewer do justice to a book called “the great American novel”? I first read Johnny Got His Gun during the Viet Nam war, when young people, nationwide, were protesting fighting in a war that was a senseless waste of life; a war in which the United States had no business participating.

The Truth About My Reading

The Truth About My Reading

I didn't get my Composition and Literature teacher at Montclair State College at all. A crusty old man with a dour disposition, Mr. Smith always seemed angry and rude. He appropriately intimidated freshmen, even me, an English major, who found this common core course beneath my dignity. Frankly, as a graduate of Highland Park High School, and a survivor of Mrs.

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse

By LIZ KEILL

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...