NEW BRUNSWICK - The New Jersey State Bar Association Mid-Year Meeting - held in San Juan - raised over $30,000 that will be donated to several charities in Puerto Rico.
Over 250 people attended the Mid-Year Meeting earlier this month, which traditionally features educational seminars, networking events and this year included a special event, NJSBA Cares. It was a day where attendees volunteered their time and talents to help residents of the island who are still suffering from the destruction of Hurricane Maria and raised money to benefit charities.
“As a proud New Jersey attorney with strong Puerto Rican roots, I was devastated by what happened to the island after Hurricane Maria. It was important to me that we find a way to help the island at the Mid-Year Meeting,” said NJSBA President Evelyn Padin. “I am thrilled with the generosity of the donations and the giving spirit of so many of our members and sponsors to support the island.”
Dozens of volunteers from the New Jersey State Bar Association and Puerto Rican Bar Association of New York spent a morning at Carola’s Home Care, a senior citizens’ living facility in the hills of the island that had been damaged by the hurricane two years ago. One group of volunteers assembled donated fans for the residents to use in their rooms. Another group scraped away peeling paint from the outside of the buildings and gave them a fresh coat of paint. And a third group created a flower garden in a broken fountain.
“The maintenance and upkeep at the facility had suffered since Hurricane Maria. It was a privilege to spend the morning working to spruce up the place. Seeing the smiles on the faces of the residents when we finished painting and planting a garden was a real gift,” said Thomas H. Prol, a former NJSBA president who took part in the volunteer project.
NJSBA Cares concluded with Cooking for a Cause, where groups of meeting attendees competed in a version of Chopped, the Food Network’s cooking competition where chefs receive a box of mystery ingredients and have to create a meal to present to a panel of judges in a short period of time.
Nearly 40 people made contributions for a chance to make something of the mango, tofu, chard and shrimp that were included in the mystery box. Still others donated for the chance to be in the audience and cheer the teams on as the chefs worked to serve up a dish in less than 30 minutes. All of the kitchen equipment used in the competition will also be donated to local groups.
The monetary and equipment donations will be shared among four Puerto Rican organizations, in addition to Carola’s Home Care. The others are:
• San Jorge Children’s Foundation, which helps provide care for children – from newborn to age 21 – from low-income families who have been diagnosed with cancer, malformations or catastrophic illnesses.
• Meson De Amor, a community kitchen for University of Puerto Rico Students that serves about 150 meals a day.
• Hogar de Niñas Mahanaim II, which provides temporary housing and support for girls whose homes have been found to be unsafe.
• Ministerio Bartimeo, a community kitchen serving the homeless population in Santurce.
In addition to the work of members and individual donations, sponsors of the NJSBA Cares events were:
Assemblywoman Annette Quijano
Callagy Law, PC
Condado Vanderbilt Hotel
Dragonfly Global Destination Services
Hard Grove Restaurant
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
Kelly Waters, Esq.
Laborers’ Local 3
Law Offices of Ileana Montes
McCarter & English, LLP
Puerto Rican Bar Association of New York