In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the Community Foundation of New Jersey collaborated with two New Jersey-based international companies, BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) and C. R. Bard, Inc., to create employee crisis funds as an additional measure to provide relief to the companies’ Puerto Rico employees affected by the natural disaster. This initiative led to more than $2 million in grants being issued to more than 1,000 BD and Bard Puerto Rico-based employees between December 2017 and March 2018.
BD acquired Bard in December 2017, just after each individual company had created its own employee crisis fund at the Community Foundation.
Hurricane Maria was a Category 4 storm when it hit Puerto Rico, causing widespread flooding, destroying many whole neighborhoods and causing near total destruction of the island’s power grid. It is considered one of the most destructive natural disasters to hit Puerto Rico.
“The amount of devastation our Puerto Rico employees faced last fall and are still largely grappling with – in their homes, communities and within their families – is just too much to bear alone,” said Jennifer Farrington, senior director of Social Investing for BD and vice president of the BD Foundation. “We knew we needed to live our BD values, to take care of each other and to do what is right, by helping our employees get back on their feet. With the Community Foundation of New Jersey, we had a hands-on partner to work with our employees in Cayey and Juncos, to get them the grant support they needed, in a timely manner.”
Each company’s fund was designed to provide financial assistance for basic necessities to employees who experienced hardship as a result of a presidentially-declared disaster, such as Hurricane Maria. The funds paid for employees’ basic living expenses not covered by insurance or help from other organizations including housing, home repair for primary residences, food, clothing and other basic living essentials.
“The devastation on the island is something you feel as soon as you land,” said Madeline Rivera, a program officer at the Community Foundation who visited Puerto Rico in January to walk through the application process with BD employees. “To get out into these communities and speak one-on-one with individuals who are trying to rebuild their homes and their lives was educational for everyone involved. Upon our return, we worked to facilitate both companies’ support of these employees as efficiently as we could. By explaining the process, it helped to make the awards run a lot smoother.”
The Community Foundation of New Jersey also manages employee crisis funds for PSEG, Ports America and American Water.