April 30, 2021
New Jersey’s largest health network, in partnership with CDW Healthcare and Chrome Enterprise, donates 500 Google Chromebooks and licenses, valued at over $250,000, to the Catholic University in Ponce, Puerto Rico
Hackensack Meridian Health, the largest and most integrated health network in New Jersey, in partnership with CDW Healthcare and Chrome Enterprise, announced today it is making an education technology donation of more than $265,000 to Pontificia Universidad Católica de Puerto Rico in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The donation includes 500 Google Chromebooks and licenses from CDW Healthcare and Chrome Enterprises.
“We are proud to support the students and faculty of the esteemed Pontificia Universidad Católica,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO, Hackensack. “Our dedicated team members at Hackensack Meridian Health, and partner organizations – CDW Healthcare and Chrome Enterprise – have made this generous donation possible. The people of Puerto Rico have faced serious challenges over the past several years, and we are humbled and honored to play a small part in helping them continue to rebuild. We hope that our donation helps educate future leaders who will create a stronger, healthier tomorrow, and we also hope it inspires others to give back to communities in need.”
Hackensack Meridian Health’s work in Puerto Rico began in January 2020, thanks to Mariela Paredes, executive assistant at the health network, who spearheaded a plan to help support local residents. Paredes has family members living in Puerto Rico and understood how challenging the living conditions on the island had become. The southwestern part of Puerto Rico had recently been hit by a series of devastating earthquakes, just as residents were still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria that struck in September 2017.
With the support of the Hackensack Meridian executive leadership team, including a $20,000 donation from CEO Robert C. Garrett, and additional generosity from fellow team members, Paredes put together a plan to raise money and provide supplies to support families in the southwestern part of the island, including cots, mattresses, food, blankets and other emergency items. Hackensack Meridian partnered with Puerto Rico Rise Up, a nonprofit of mostly doctors and business leaders with ties to Puerto Rico, and All Hearts and Hands, a disaster relief nonprofit that uses community and volunteer engagement to help families recover faster from natural disasters.
On behalf of Hackensack Meridian Health, Paredes traveled to Puerto Rico in late February 2020 to distribute supplies to impacted families. She also volunteered with All Hearts and Hands to repair a family’s home destroyed by the hurricane. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, suspending plans for Paredes to return to Puerto Rico in April 2020 – until this week.
Paredes is now fully vaccinated and will be back in Puerto Rico this week to donate Google Chromebooks to students at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Puerto Rico on behalf of the health network. “I am thrilled to continue our mission in Puerto Rico on behalf of Hackensack Meridian Health,” Paredes said. “Between Hurricane Maria and the devasting earthquakes, so many schools here have been completely destroyed. Many children are not receiving a proper education. Being able to make this donation today is the most amazing feeling. It is a dream come true.”
Paredes added, “This has been a work of love and compassion for more than just me. This wasn’t just my own project; this was a true group effort of our entire team.”