Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

School Community Increases Fundraising Goal for Puerto Rico

Demarest, NJ: A series of fundraisers organized by the Academy of the Holy Angels has already netted $3,269 to help Puerto Rico rebound from Hurricane Maria, but the school community is not willing to stop there. As the students, faculty, and staff gathered just before Thanksgiving, Spanish teacher and Spanish National Honor Society Moderator Carmen Quiñones challenged those present to increase the fundraising goal to $5,000. Her proposal was met by enthusiastic applause.

The Spanish National Honor Society is leading AHA’s fundraising effort with the generous support of many other school organizations.

“We are grateful for all the bake sales and the food drives and the pictures and the pretzels and the halos and the hearts that you have all organized to help someone else,” AHA President Melinda Hanlon stated. “We are thankful. We are thankful for how you give back – how you see a need and then how you make a plan and you respond to it. We are blessed. We are blessed by the presence of all of you.”

The guest speaker was Sister Josefina Morales, a School Sister of Notre Dame who hails from Puerto Rico. S. Josefina gave an emotional presentation about her recent 10-day trip to Puerto Rico to visit her parents. She told the AHA community how many people remain stranded, since bridges that connect them with the rest of the island have been destroyed. She also noted that a good deal of the island still has no electricity, an issue that forces nearly 75% of the population to grocery shop daily, since they do not have refrigeration in their homes. Power may be restored by Christmas, she added.

Her audience sat motionless, waiting in awed silence as S. Josefina paused to wipe away her tears. She said the funds raised at AHA would benefit several teachers from Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in San Juan. Those teachers lost everything in the storm, according to S. Josefina.
She noted how easy it is to forget about people who are suffering when we cannot see them, adding that many people have lost their homes, their employment, and their lives. She commented that, for many, the focus of this catastrophe has been political rather than humanitarian.

Prior to her address, S. Josefina, a social worker with a private practice in Rochelle Park, noted that, as her plane approached Puerto Rico, the landscape appeared gray, not the lush green she had expected.

“The wires are like spaghetti,” she stated succinctly. “The economy will suffer greatly. All the plantations are gone.”

She pointed out that many existing mental health issues among the Puerto Rican people have been exacerbated by the storm. However, although the island has suffered greatly, she said, “The resiliency of the people gave me hope.”

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in New Jersey. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.


Academy of the Holy Angels

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