Read about our featured volunteers and how they are helping communities in NJ

The following are Jersey Cares Volunteer Stars...they all exceeded our expectations and inspired others through their leadership.
December 2013-Mark Buckley
As this wonderful year comes to a close, Jersey Cares is thrilled to recognize Mark Buckley as December’s Volunteer Star. Moving to New Jersey less than a year ago, Mark wasted no time getting involved in his new community. Since May, Mark has dedicated over 200 hours and has volunteered at over 80 projects throughout New Jersey. While he loves the ability to work with people in a number of different impact areas, he particularly enjoys volunteering at our Mobile Meals projects in Paterson, Newark and Elizabeth. When he is not volunteering, Mark can be found at his local college, taking classes and gaining a deeper understanding of the world around him. Mark always goes above and beyond, giving his time and resources to each project by committing to the ideal that any experience is only as good as what you make it out to be. Mark always leaves us with an inspirational quote along with his feedback, such as, "Gratitude is the sign of noble souls". We would like to thank Mark for the opportunity to serve alongside him.

November 2013-Lou Oliveira

Jersey Cares is delighted to recognize Lou Oliveira as November’s Volunteer of the Month. Lou, a nurse from Cedar Knolls, has a natural disposition for helping others. Starting last November, Lou began traveling from his home town with his church group to Toms River in an effort to bring relief to the communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. Feeling that more could be done, Lou continued to offer his time independently, volunteering over 280 hours through the Jersey Cares Sandy Resource Center.
Modest at heart, Lou says that he is most impressed by the willingness of others to help, while he himself is the first to step forward to lend a helping hand. He gained new skills by learning from others, and happily passes along those skills to anyone who is lucky enough to work with him. He stated that, “These are my neighbors,” and his motivation is that even after all they have been through, “they still take the time to say thank you.” Jersey Cares is proud to acknowledge an individual like Lou who recognizes when there is a need and is willing to do whatever he can to make a difference.

October 2013-Mallika Mallavarapu

It is with great pleasure that Jersey Cares recognizes Mallika Mallavarapu as October’s Volunteer Star of the Month. After graduating with her doctorate from Cornell in May, Mallika wasted no time getting involved in the community. That same month, she began volunteering at the Jersey Shore, hoping to bring relief to Hurricane Sandy victims that were still struggling to get back on their feet. Moved by the selflessness of her fellow altruists, Mallika decided to fully dedicate herself by becoming a Project Coordinator for an eclectic group of projects, including: Literacy Leaders in Newark, Mobile Meals in Elizabeth, Pet Playground in West Orange, and Art Therapy in East Orange. To her, “the claps you get when you finish reading a story to the kids, the feeling when a cat gets adopted, or seeing a proud smile when a simple art project is finished, these are the moments when you know you have made a difference”. Always gracious at heart, Mallika said, “truly, it is an honor to be chosen to be the volunteer star but I want to dedicate this to all the Jersey Cares volunteers because they believe in BEING THE CHANGE.” If you believe in “being the change” in your community, join our October Star, Mallika, at one of these projects today!

September 2013- Nicole Hines
Jersey Cares is thrilled to recognize Nicole Hines as September’s Volunteer Star of the Month! Motivated by a passion for her community, Nicole decided to get involved with Jersey Cares because she saw how easy it was to get involved with projects that interested her.  While she has been involved with a number of different volunteer projects over the years, Nicole currently devotes her time to specific impact areas that are frequently overlooked- including senior services and adult education.  When asked why she likes to focus on these particular civic projects she expressed, “If I was not around to look after my parents, I would want someone who cares to be there for them. I think caring for the elderly really makes a difference”.  Following her belief that adults need help too, Nicole is a Project Coordinator at both Bingo Time and Sunday Social in Morristown. In addition to that and her busy work schedule, she also finds time to volunteer at Computer Essentials in Elizabeth every week. If you would like to really make a difference in your community, join our September Star, Nicole, at one of these projects today!

August 2013 – Jane Havsy
Jersey Cares is very excited to recognize Jane Havsy as August’s Volunteer Star of the Month! For the past ten years Jane has dedicated herself to her community through our agency, volunteering her free time at a variety of projects, such as the Liberty Humane Society and Hudson Cradle. Due to her passion for civic engagement and experiences as a volunteer, Jane was compelled to go above and beyond, taking on an important role as a Project Coordinator- and we are thankful she did! Jane has proven to be one of our most dynamic and exuberant volunteer leaders, happily getting involved wherever she is needed.
Her commitment to the community coincides with her professional career. In addition to being a Jersey Cares leader, Jane is also a sports reporter for the Daily Record, a highly regarded community newspaper in Morris County. If you would like to have a great time making a difference in the community, join Jane at the Salvation Army mobile canteen or at St. Lucy’s in Jersey City today!

July 2013 –  Millicent Jackson
Every week Millicent Jackson demonstrates that volunteerism is an integral part of her life. She began volunteering after listening to national leaders calling citizens to take action and volunteer in their communities. Millicent took their words to heart and joined Jersey Cares right away. Like many Jersey Cares members, she tried a host of local projects before settling on Mobile Meals in Newark. Since then, as the dedicated Project Coordinator, she’s been devoted to making the project a success. Volunteers rave that “Millicent does an exceptional job throughout the entire volunteer event.”  Her caring and optimistic personality has contributed to the success of Mobile Meals in Newark. Millicent shared with us that ‘all the volunteers work well together and enjoy the camaraderie fostered by the FoodBank organizers and participants alike. She was also happy to report that the recipients are always friendly and appreciative to the volunteers.
Mobile Meals in Newark aims to bring nutritional staples to local residents in need. Join Millicent in her quest to end hunger and volunteer today!

June 2013 –  Fumiko Storer
Like many other New Jerseyans, Fumiko Storer started volunteering in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Since then she has been an integral part of the long-term recovery in Ocean County serving over 200 hours. She is motivated to volunteer day after day because “it's so nice to meet people who care.”
Fumiko has become committed to helping her community as a result of the devastation caused by Sandy. The “bobcat”, as she is known by local volunteers, is a happy and energetic woman who is ready to work through any weather or difficulties. Fumiko demonstrates an eagerness to help out in any task from gutting houses to removing 3 feet of sand from a building complex armed only with shovels and determination. Through her leadership and assistance, Jersey Cares is able to help communities affected by Sandy get back on their feet. Please help us congratulate this outstanding volunteer!

May 2013 Deborah Laguna
Deborah Laguna is a young woman with a tremendous desire to help others. She joined Jersey Cares to fulfill her mission of helping the youngest and oldest in her community.
Deborah believes that the senior population has “given many years of their lives to help others and now that it is their turn to receive help, it falls upon our generation to lend the hand.” A regular at several of Jersey Cares’ Bingo Time and Socials projects in Northern New Jersey, Deborah has met an array of characters full of stories of days-gone-by and funny and meaningful anecdotes. Most importantly, Deborah makes sure seniors know their community cares about them.
Equally important to Deborah are the children in her community. She has become a role model to several young students at Jersey Cares’ Tutor and Mentoring projects. There, she enthusiastically and willingly helps youth in any capacity giving them the confidence they need to accomplish their dreams.

April 2013 – Morris Parechia
Morris Parsechia is an enthusiastic individual dedicated to serving the communities in Essex, Hudson and Paterson County. When he joined Jersey Cares, Morris jumped right in and committed to volunteering weekly as a Project Coordinator. While volunteering at Earth Keepers in Jersey City he started a preservation movement of the several historical documents found in this location. Talk about “giving your all” and going the extra mile to make a difference! When asked what he enjoys most about volunteering, Morris said, “If everyone gives a couple of hours, the world would be a better place. I especially enjoy taking care of people and doing my part to end hunger in New Jersey.” He does this by volunteering and leading several projects in this important impact area. Join Morris at Mobile Meals in New Jersey and do your part to see that every New Jersey resident has a warm meal.

March 2013 – Toniesha Benthall
Toniesha Benthall is a young volunteer with a heart of gold dedicated to improving the education and experiences of young boys and girls in inner city neighborhoods. As a first generation college student, providing mentorship and assistance to children in need is an important aspect of her life. Every week you can find her leading our Tutor and Mentor projects, counseling youth or baking cupcakes at Jubilee Center in Hoboken. She is looking forward to attending Saint Peter’s University in the Fall and hopes to work in the nonprofit sector after graduation. Toniesha is also involved in a program called New Jersey Needs You which prepares first-generation college students to realize their full college and career potential by pairing them one-to-one with mentor coaches. Toniesha is an amazing volunteer and we are happy to have her supporting our Education & Youth Services programming in Hudson County. We are excited to name this passionate and dedicated individual as our Volunteer Star of the Month!

February 2013 – Jasmine Fletcher
Jasmine is a native to central New Jersey and has remained a valued volunteer at Marketplace in East Brunswick since 2012. Jasmine’s journey through volunteerism started with her active involvement in corporate volunteer initiatives during the holiday season. Her hands-on experience provided visibility to the importance and rewards of giving back and she has been an avid volunteer ever since.  Jasmine especially likes small team-based volunteer opportunities where she can develop meaningful relationships with like-minded people in her community. Her support has gone beyond providing her valuable time to help others in need, as she continues to encourage numerous friends to join her in each opportunity. When we asked Jasmine why she volunteers, she said, “working hard every day gets one foot in the door but giving back gets you all the way. If we wake up with that in mind, it will be impossible as a community to fail.” This explains why she has taken the next logical step to become part of our volunteer leadership team as a Project Coordinator at Jersey Cares. Join Jasmine and create your personal volunteer journey with Jersey Cares!
January 2013--Thomas Murphy

Congratulations to Thomas Murphy, January’s Star of the Month! Tom is a dedicated volunteer who heard of Jersey Cares from a family member. Soon after he started volunteering he recruited his children and other extended family to participate on a regular recurrence. While he and his family are a fixture at Marketplace in Jamesburg, providing food to people in need, Tom has volunteered in a wide range of projects throughout New Jersey. He recently commented, “Whether it involves the environment through a beach sweep, helping needy families through a nearby food pantry or beautifying an inner city school with lively murals, Jersey Cares really does have something to offer everyone.” Follow Tom’s example and make volunteering a new and fun family tradition!

To see past Volunteer Stars, click here.