93 Days: SB grant aids Sandy victims

Jets owner Woody Johnson speaks to the crowd in the newly renovated multi-purpose room at a Perth Amboy community group's facility. Courtesy NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee

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PERTH AMBOY, N.J. -- As recently as three weeks ago, the Puerto Rican Association for Human Development was still feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Especially in its multi-purpose room.

"It was devastating," PRAHD Director of Development Juan Carlos Nordelo said. "There was water everywhere when we got in. The light fixtures were all ruined. The ceiling was literally falling because the paneling was damp and moist. Our roof sustained damage."

Friday morning, the multi-purpose room was vibrant with orange and blue walls, and had a play area filled with a playhouse, seats and play mats for the youngsters at the facility. And on one of the walls was a logo for the Snowflake Youth Foundation, which helped make the renovation possible.

PRAHD is one of nine recipients of a $1.5 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that will be distributed by the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee's Snowflake Youth Foundation. A press conference was held Friday announcing the grant at PRAHD's headquarters in Perth Amboy, N.J.

The grant will go toward New Jersey services benefiting youths, and will help to repair facilities and equipment that was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Jets Owner and NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee co-chairman Woody Johnson was in attendance, as was host committee President Al Kelly.

"This is a once in a lifetime gift," PRAHD CEO Yvonne Lopez said. "This is a wish come true."

The other eight recipients of the grant are: Boys and Girls Club of America; Jersey Cares; Kaboom; Rahway Community Action Center; Rahway Recreation Center; Robert D. Wilson Memorial Community Center in Highlands; Toms Rivers East High School; and Youth Consultation Service (YCS) in Hackensack.

"When I look at these beautiful young kids it gives us inspiration to do what we have to do as adults and leaders in the community -- we have to provide for them, particularly after a tragedy like Sandy," Johnson said. "Make sure everything is rebuilt and everything is in good order and clean and they have places to go and good teachers and people who care about them."

The Snowflake Youth Foundation was created by the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee and aims to transform after-school facilities in the metropolitan area to better serve youths. It's initiatives include helping places affected by Hurricane Sandy. It's part of the host committee's legacy project.

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