While not first-responders or relief agency workers, AFTNJ members made donations of food and clean-up equipment to several distribution centers along the New Jersey Shore. The state federation worked with AFT national staff to identify AFT members who are storm victims using a statewide robo-call and email outreach directly to members as well as engaging with local leaders.

AFTNJ Executive Committee (24 Vice Presidents and five Executive Officers) set up a Disaster Relief Fund to assist members, which was quickly ratified by the Delegate Assembly (the federation’s highest decision-making body with delegate representation from each local). As of January, the fund has made 75 grants of $250 to members for whom damage included totaled cars, flooded first-floors and a few who lost their entire homes to the Superstorm. The committee will continue to review applications until March 1, according to President Donna M. Chiera, so members who suffered significant damage from the disaster still have time to apply.

The Council of New Jersey State College Locals donated $10,000 to the Community Food Bank of NJ to help feed storm victims and other hungry residents.

Locals have stepped up as well, some opting to provide direct assistance to members:

• Kean University Adjunct Faculty Federation matched the state federation’s grant for its local members;
• Union of Rutgers Administrators-AFT set up a fund and made allocations to members; and
• Montclair State University AFT local 1904 members dug in their pockets and the local made a match to provide $400 in gift cards to students and teachers of the Robert L. Craig School in Moonachie, NJ, who lost their school as a result of the storm.

Other locals donated to the newly-created AFTNJ Disaster Relief Fund:
• North Bergen Federation donated $3,000;
• Perth Amboy Federation donated $2,000;
• New Jersey City University-AFT local donated $1,000;
• The College of New Jersey local donated $500;
• Long Branch Federation—one of the locals where several members suffered tremendous losses—donated $500.

Members donated to the fund as well, according to AFTNJ Treasurer Joe Amabile, a Newark teacher. “We are grateful for the locals and individual members who were moved to contribute,” said Amabile, who will chair a committee to legally structure the non-profit and establish guidelines for future distributions.

Members and locals can make donations to the fund by sending checks made out to “NJSFT”, 629 Amboy Ave., Third floor. Edison, NJ 08837. Donations to this fund are not tax deductible yet.

In addition to establishing the Disaster Relief Fund, AFTNJ leadership is making sure our state federation can help members and community in any upcoming emergency. A new project is launching with AFT national support to plan and to engage locals in developing their own long-term strategies for addressing emergencies. Contact the AFTNJ office at 732-661-9393 or complete the contact form to talk about getting your local involved in the Disaster Preparedness program.

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