Partnering to Offer Hurricane Ida Disaster Relief to Families in New Jersey

Mid-Atlantic  |  September 17, 2021
Many families in the hardest-hit communities are still clearing out flood-damaged property and leaving it along the side of the road. Photo/Wankang Wang

Written by Shuzhen Zhang      
Translated by Mark Wan
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska

On September 1, torrential rain brought by the tail-end of Hurricane Ida flash flooded the city of Englewood in Northwest New Jersey. The disaster rendered many families homeless, submerged and damaged vehicles, and forced many residents to temporarily stay in hotels, with relatives, or in shelters.

Working in collaboration with the Bergen Family Center, “a recognized leader in providing quality and comprehensive human services to people of all ages,” Tzu Chi New Jersey provided a disaster relief distribution event on September 11, which benefited over 110 families impacted by flooding and other damages. The families received environmentally-friendly blankets, face masks, and cash cards. And, most were pleasantly surprised to hear that Tzu Chi’s signature warm and fuzzy eco-blankets are each made from over 70 recycled plastic bottles.

Remembering the trauma of just ten nights before, the disaster survivors still felt a pang of sorrow and distress at the thought of the extensive flooding, of the water rushing into their homes and submerging their living spaces within minutes. Still, despite the misfortune of losing so much materially, they were grateful to be alive and together with their families. 

And, the sense of luck amid loss since Tzu Chi USA had come to their aid rekindled hope, expressed through comments such as, “Thank you very much for all you’ve done, which are really good deeds. I feel life is much more hopeful with your care and concern.” Tzu Chi volunteers and care recipients found a mutual connection in the spirit of “gratitude, respect, and love” evident at the distribution event. 

Mitch Schonfeld, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bergen Family Center was also on hand to express his thanks:

We appreciate [it] so much. I know that, the families that came today, 110 families came, they got the gift cards from the [Buddhist] Tzu Chi Foundation, they got emergency blankets, they got masks, they got other essential items.

Mitch Schonfeld
President & Chief Executive Officer
Bergen Family Center

Elizabeth Corsini, the Vice President and Director of Programs at the Bergen Family Center, also attended the distribution. She shared more about how extensive Hurricane Ida damages in Englewood have been, transforming the cityscape, damaging two to three-storied buildings and disrupting the lives of children residing there, impacting nursing homes, and so on. 

Corsini also praised Tzu Chi’s provision of crucial disaster relief in a well-organized and orderly manner, its volunteers always patient and beaming. She also appreciated the prayer music for good measure, all combined, creating an unbelievably nice arrangement for the day while bringing much-needed relief to families who have lost so much.

Tzu Chi is very much appreciated for its willingness to reach out to communities and get involved in helping [disaster survivors]. Looking forward to more opportunities to cooperate in the future.

Elizabeth Corsini
Vice President & Director of Programs
Bergen Family Center
Tzu Chi volunteers discuss the distribution operations with Elizabeth Corsini, Vice President and Director of Programs at the Bergen Family Center. Photo/Wankang Wang

Founded in 1898, the Bergen Family Center (BFC) has developed into the oldest continuously operating family service agency in Bergen County, New Jersey. BFC’s stated mission is to “[strengthen] communities by providing services to individuals, families, and children that enhance their ability to function independently, manage challenges and improve the quality of their lives.” And, it does so while holding “diversity, equity, inclusion, and engagement” as central to BFC’s organizational values. 

Tzu Chi USA’s Mid-Atlantic Region and Tzu Chi New Jersey are thrilled to have worked in partnership with the Bergen Family Center, and hope to continue in the future:

We’re grateful to the Bergen Family Center for its thorough homework. Finished in as few as three days, [they] collected comprehensive information on behalf of 110 [disaster-impacted] families, paving the way for a smooth and pleasant distribution process today in just a matter of three hours. And we wish to be able to work together with the Center again in the future in community outreach, letting those who [were] set drifting away have a home to return to.

Tina Lee
Tzu Chi USA Mid-Atlantic Region
Tina Lee, Tzu Chi USA Mid-Atlantic Region Director, presents a cash card to a care recipient at the Hurricane Ida disaster relief distribution. Photo/Wankang Wang

We invite you to also partner with us by adding your love to Tzu Chi USA’s Hurricane Ida disaster relief mission. Let’s show those suffering so much loss that we care.

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