NEWARK, NJ - Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newark (HFHGN) has announced a partnership with “New Jersey for Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief” (NJ4PR), created by leaders of the state's Puerto Rican community in a statewide effort to help the people of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

More than half a million New Jerseyans claim Puerto Rican ancestry, with Newark boasting the largest Puerto Rican population in the state.

Jeffrey J. Farrell, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newark, which serves Essex, Hudson and Union counties, said millions of American citizens in Puerto Rico are facing a crisis.

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“Our ties to the Puerto Rican community in our service area run deep, all the way back to the founding of our affiliate in 1986,” Farrell said.

As part of its role, HFHGN is publicizing the fund through its network in the three counties, as well as on its website, HabitatNewark.org

NJ4PR has already collected donations from thousands of New Jerseyans through benefit concerts, community awareness-raising events and through its website.

The Category 5 hurricane made landfall on September 20, wreaking havoc on the island and causing widespread destruction and devastation unparalleled by few storms in American history.

Hurricane Maria left 3.4 million people without food, clean water, electricity or medical supplies and weeks later, most of the island’s residents still lack access to these basic necessities.

With electrical power and communications out in Puerto Rico and the dire conditions expected to last for months, the island also lacks the manpower to respond to the crisis.

“Habitat for Humanity gives families the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to rebuild,” Farrell said. “Borinqueños don’t need our sympathy," he said, using the colloquial tern for people from the island. "They need empowerment. NJ4PR is the perfect vehicle for providing the critical support now needed by our fellow American citizens in the commonwealth. We’re proud to participate in this fund and we encourage every New Jersey citizen to do their part and donate.”

Three weeks after the storm hit, many Puerto Ricans in the state are still unable to contact family and friends, and are struggling to get supplies, money and logistical help to the island.

Sam Delgado, chairman of the Newark Regional Business partnership and a NJ4PR leader, said that collaborative efforts are crucial to restoring the island.

“When Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, we knew it would take a combined, long-term effort to help the island back on its feet,” he said. “The weeks and months ahead will be the most difficult, particularly for those made homeless and without power or running water.”

In response to the overwhelming destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Habitat for Humanity has expanded its “Habitat Hammers Back” initiative to aid impacted families and individuals on the island.

Habitat’s three-phase disaster response focuses on immediate relief, community stabilization and long-term recovery. As part of its initial response in Puerto Rico, Habitat is assembling 2,000 shelter repair kits containing supplies and tools to help families make preliminary home repairs to improve their shelter conditions.

Along with Habitat for Humanity, NJ4PR has partnered with a long and diverse list of community service organizations, such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the Boys & Girls Club of Puerto Rico.

“Like all our champions, Habitat for Humanity already has years of experience and the expertise we need,” Delgado said. “It’s a natural fit for a partnership and we’re incredibly grateful for their support.”

For more information about HFHGN, contact Heidi Pospieszny, Fundraising and Volunteer Coordinator, at hpospieszny@habitatnewark.org. To learn more or donate to NJ4PR, visit nj4pr.org. Supporters can call the New Jersey Helpline, 1-833-NJ-HELPS, to find drop-off locations for donations of supplies, tools and medicine.