Volunteer Stars 2018
The following are Jersey Cares Volunteer Stars...they all exceeded our expectations and inspired others through their leadership.
Meet Edie Behr!
Edie has been a part of the Jersey Cares family for many years now and even served as the Jersey Cares Board of Directors, Vice President 15 years ago! Her story with Jersey Cares is one that is relatable to many volunteers.
“Roughly 18-19 years ago I had been working in Trenton, but I live in West Orange. I wanted to find a better way to connect with my community. I started asking around, and a stockholder suggested I become a board member with Jersey Cares. The organization was much smaller at the time and watching it grow has been amazing.”
“As a regular volunteer, I noticed how much not having a PC onsite can impact the project. With the regular PC not able to take on as many weeks, I did not want to see the opportunity fall apart and decided to step up and take on a leadership role”.
As a long-time member of the Jersey Cares community, Edie shared this advice for new volunteers,
“There is nothing more rewarding. You feel good about what you’ve done, and you’re helping people at the same time.”
It is the leadership of dedicated volunteers like Edie that makes our opportunities possible. Be The Change and click here to read more about our Project Coordinator program!
Say Hello to Patrick McDevitt!
Patrick began his journey with Jersey Cares in 2017 as a corporate volunteer with Citi Group during their 2017 global volunteer day at our Care of the Park program in Branch Brook Park. After experiencing Care of the Park and the amazing work they do for environmental stewardship in the city of Newark, he was hooked! When he saw the Care of the Park program listed on our website, signing up was a no-brainer.
Since then, Patrick has been a dedicated volunteer with us, engaging in a wide variety of projects related to the maintenance of Branch Brook Park. He even served as a liaison in organizing this year’s Citi service day, bringing 27 volunteers to work at the park. When asked why volunteering is important to him, Patrick reminisced of the importance of the park to New Jersey residents, noting:
“I have lived in Essex County for 17 years. I have visited Branch Brook Park for their annual Cherry Blossom festivals and my daughter has played softball in the fields. Branch Brook Park is a huge asset and needs to be preserved. It’s been around for a long time and hopefully, it will be for many years to come.”
When it comes to advice for new volunteers, Patrick simply shared, “Smile, and have fun.”
Join Patrick and become part of the Jersey Cares volunteer community. Register as a volunteer today; then Sign Up and Show Up. We make volunteering in the State fun, easy and meaningful. To learn more about the Care of the Park program click here!
Introducing Lisa Colleran!
A long-time volunteer with Jersey Cares, and a Project Coordinator since February of this year, Lisa Colleran is best known for her work with our Project Coordinator Fellowship program.
Lisa kicked off her career of service with Jersey Cares in 2016. A quick google search guided her to our website where she began volunteering as a skills trainer with our ServiceWorks program. For the next three cohorts, Lisa developed lesson plans and modules that she used to guide students in their training on project planning, communication, and life skills.
Following the completion of the ServiceWorks program, Lisa’s passion for community and youth development opportunities made her the perfect fit or our Jersey Cares Project Coordinator Fellowship program. In her work with Fellowship, Lisa conducts cohort workshops on a variety of professional skills, giving her the opportunity to teach the importance of teamwork and leadership. When asked why volunteering with the Fellowship was so important to her, Lisa noted:
“I feel blessed because I had a great family and education that taught me many life skills. I worked very hard and had many wonderful opportunities to learn a lot. I am now at a point in my life where I want to give some of that back and share opportunities with others.”
When it comes to advice for new volunteers, Lisa shared:
“Get out there. Get involved. Because you always get something back. You may be uncomfortable reaching out, but you should just go for it. You will feel like you gave something, but you also get a lot back.”
To learn more about the Jersey Cares Project Coordinator Fellowship, click here! Leaders like Lisa are a big part of what makes our projects possible. Join her in becoming a Jersey Cares volunteer, or even consider becoming a volunteer leader through our Project Coordinator program!
Say Hello to Ben Carter!
Ben has been actively engaged with Jersey Cares since 2015 as a former member of the ServiceWorks campaign and now the Jersey Cares Project Coordinator Fellowship.
For Ben, giving back to the community isn’t a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. A Newark native, Ben uses the professional skills gained from his corporate career to provide professional development services to individuals around New Jersey. This has led to his work with organizations such as CASA and My Brother’s Keeper. It is no surprise then that, after seeing a Volunteer Match posting for the ServiceWorks program, Ben was eager to help.
For the next two years, he served as both a skills trainer and success coach for program participants. In his current work with the Jersey Cares Project Coordinator Fellowship, Ben runs workshops related to workforce development and program management in addition to participating in cohort demonstration days by providing feedback of student presentations. Ben noted that the biggest challenge so far has been:
“Remembering to meet every student wherever they are in their lives at that moment. They don’t accommodate us, we need to work to accommodate them. We aren’t doing this work FOR them, we are doing this work WITH them. However, they show up, I have to see that and meet them where they are.”
When asked what advice he has for new volunteers, Ben said:
“Go in open and expect to be rewarded in some capacity. Whether the experience was good or bad, it will still be rewarding because you get to be a part of their lives and part of an experience that they will likely never forget”.
Meet Laura DeCotiis!
Laura has been a dedicated volunteer with Jersey Cares since January and an active Project Coordinator since April. At 85.5 hours Laura has already earned the title of Volunteer Virtuoso and is well on her way to Expert level! When asked why she chose to get involved with Jersey Cares, Laura shared this:
“I am going through a job transition right now and wanted to hone my leadership skills as a Project Coordinator. I think that being a PC with Jersey Cares has allowed me to grow as both a volunteer and a person.”
In her free time, Laura stays active through running, yoga, spin classes, and hiking. However, when it comes to her favorite service opportunities, it’s the human connection that really counts. When asked what her favorite project is, Laura said:
“It’s a tossup. I really enjoy Behind the Scenes with Jersey Cares. A lot of people team up with opportunities in the field but seeing the effort of the Jersey Cares staff to create and manage projects is awesome. But I also enjoy working with the elderly at Bingo Time and Games Galore. I even recently signed up for a new project, Caring Closet in Madison. It’s important to explore other opportunities and find where you fit.”
Join Laura by becoming a Jersey Cares volunteer today! Or, if you have served as a volunteer and are considering taking the next step and training as a PC, click here!
Introducing Sherri Igartua!
One of our newest Project Coordinators, Sherri hit the ground running as part of our Spring Seasons of Service Cohort! Since then, she has been an active leader; making time for her favorite opportunities while serving at Joint Base MDL - Fort Dix. Having been stationed in NJ for only 18 months, Sherri was eager to get engaged in the local community. When asked why she chose to get involved with Jersey Cares, Sherri explained:
“Honestly, I’m new to the area and I’m in the military. I am unfamiliar with the east coast, having been in Alabama and Florida for the last 7 years. I thought this would be a good way to give back and explore NJ while getting people involved in service. There isn’t much around Joint Base MDL - Fort Dix so I found Jersey Cares through google searches. I liked all the different types of opportunities and having options.”
Outside of work and volunteering, the Texas native likes to spend her free time cross stitching. Still new to Jersey Cares herself, Sherri shared this advice for first-time volunteers:
“Be openminded and enjoy the experience. Go in with a good attitude. Some opportunities can seem overwhelming but in hindsight, it’s a lot of fun. Be open to meeting people”.
We are so thankful for Sherri’s enthusiasm for service. Leaders like Sherri are a big part of what makes our projects possible. Join her in becoming a Jersey Cares volunteer, or even consider becoming a volunteer leader through our Project Coordinator program!
Say Hello to Himani Gupta!
Himani has only been a volunteer with us since February but has already completed over 100 hours of volunteer service, earning her the title of the Volunteer Expert! While she has participated in many of our great opportunities, Newark Ambassadors quickly became one of her most frequented volunteer opportunities. When asked about her favorite Jersey Cares opportunity, Himani noted
“I like all of the Jersey Cares projects as all of them require different roles and responsibilities and teach you different things. Because I like to walk, helping guide commuters and talking with business people through the Newark Ambassadors opportunity has been my favorite.”
An avid cook and explorer, Himani is always on the lookout for new experiences. Having studied and lived in India for most of her life, Himani shared that
“Before coming to US I was working in India. When I found an opportunity to volunteer here, I decided to join Jersey Cares and spend my valuable time helping others and serving the community. This makes me feel more satisfied and happy.”
We are so glad to have Himani on board with us as a Project Coordinator and look forward to her continued service with us! Whether you have volunteered with us for years or are just starting out, we hope that you consider stepping up and taking on a leadership role through our Project Coordinator program.
Meet Christina Hickok!
Christina has been a volunteer with Jersey Cares for about 2 years and a Project Coordinator (PC) since November 2017.
While many volunteers have favorite projects, Christina tries to embrace as many as possible. When asked which volunteer opportunity has been her favorite, Christina responded:
“Can I pick three favorites? It is difficult to choose just one because each opportunity offers a unique experience. At Conversations and Connections in Elizabeth, I love the feeling of helping women gain confidence speaking English, a difficult task which improves their lives in our country immensely. Hunger Helpers in Newark offers the chance to serve a hot meal and a smile to people whose lives are more difficult and complicated than many of us can imagine, leaving me with renewed appreciation for my own circumstances in life. Finally, Sunday Social in Menlo Park is wonderful because it is a way to help our veterans, to whom we owe our freedom for their sacrifice and bravery in defending our nation”.
Along with being accepted to Rutgers School of Engineering for Fall 2018, Christina recently completed over 100 hours of service, earning the title of Volunteer Expert! When asked why she chose to get involved with Jersey Cares, Christina shared that
“I was looking for a place to volunteer with my children because I wanted them to see that there are many ways to help people that don’t involve giving money. I found Jersey Cares online and was hooked from the first opportunity I attended.”
Join Christina and become part of the Jersey Cares volunteer community. Register as a volunteer today; then Sign Up and Show Up. We make volunteering in the State fun, easy and meaningful!
Galia Chate Hernandez
Say Hello to Galia Chate Hernandez!
Galia has been volunteering with Jersey cares for more than 3 years in all sorts of different roles and places, but recently, she’s found her favorite; it’s Marketplace in Paterson with CUMAC/ECHO.
“I have always enjoyed helping my community through a very well-structured organization such as Jersey Cares. Early on in my “Volunteer Career” I decided to take the next step and become a Jersey Cares Project Coordinator (PC). It takes a responsible person to be a project coordinator and I have always felt that sense of responsibility to help my community.”
When we asked Galia, who is currently enrolled in the master’s program of Law and Governance at Montclair State University, what advice she would give to a first-time volunteer she said:
“There is nothing more rewarding than helping your community, so keep up with the good work and little by little your volunteer resume will grow.”
Galia’s own volunteer resume recently achieved the Jersey Cares “Volunteer Humanitarian” status. That’s 200+ hours of volunteer service! Congratulations and Thank You Galia!
Join Galia and become part of the Jersey Cares volunteer community. Register as a volunteer today; then Sign Up and Show Up. We make volunteering in the State fun, easy and meaningful!
Robin La Vecchia
Meet Robin La Vecchia!
Robin’s been a Jersey Cares volunteer since last December and trained as Project Coordinator (PC) in our Winter Seasons of Service program in January. While she’s only been volunteering through Jersey Cares for less than 5 months she’s already booked nearly 50 hours of service as a volunteer or Project Coordinator!
“I have volunteered with other organizations in the past, but I like the wide variety of opportunities that Jersey Cares has available and the people are so friendly and inviting! I am proud to be a part of the Jersey Cares family!”
When asked which volunteer opportunity has been her favorite one, Robin told us
“I don’t think I have a favorite project – I enjoy all of them for different reasons. But if I had to choose just one, I think I’d say Bingo Time at the Veteran’s Memorial Home in Paramus. I enjoy listening to the stories that the Veterans share with us. I am truly inspired by them and I’m so thankful to the Veterans for their service!”
Since she’s been both a volunteer and a PC we asked Robin if she had any advice for “first timers”: “Whether as a PC or a volunteer, research the volunteer opportunity so you understand the expectations, be on time and have fun! It’s really that straight-forward.”
Join Robin and all the good people serving their communities, by becoming a Jersey Cares volunteer today! Or, if you have served as a volunteer and are considering taking the next step and training as a PC, do what Robin did and sign-up today for the Jersey Cares Season of Service training (we’re taking applications for the Spring training sessions right now).
Meet Mark Arnowitz!
Mark’s been a Jersey Cares Project Coordinator since last October and has very quickly “adopted” Pet Therapy in Wayne as his project. When asked why he chose that particular project he answers: “I am drawn to projects that take me out of my immediate environment. I look for unfamiliar rather than familiar, challenges.”
In that same spirit Mark offers the following advice to first-time volunteers: “Look for the butterflies, the sense of, ‘Hey this is unfamiliar territory.’ At the end of the day you will say, ‘Wow, I didn't realize I possessed that gift! What else don't I know about myself? In what other ways can I help?’ That’s what Mark did.
When asked to summarize his Jersey Cares experienced to this point, Mark says: “I sensed a need in the community which was confirmed as I began participating, and I have met some of the greatest people while walking residence halls with a companion dog or taking the lead in an art project. In a short time, dogs and seniors have taught me much!”
That’s why Mark says “Volunteering is the next big thing!”
Join Mark and all the good people serving their communities, by becoming a Jersey Cares volunteer today!
Jefferson and Chen Song
The NFL has Archie and Eli Manning, the NBA has Bill and Luke Walton and MLB has Bob and Aaron Boone. Now we can add Jefferson and Chen Song to the list of great father and son duos. The Songs excel at Volunteering. For years they have been Saturday “regulars” at Earth Keepers in Jersey City - Liberty State Park. They enjoy the sunshine and learning gardening skills while working with kind people. They also enjoy the opportunity to experience the park through all four seasons.
Jefferson and Chen became volunteers and ultimately Jersey Cares Project Coordinators to serve together, learn leadership skills and meet different people. Chen is a high school senior who enjoys playing the saxophone in the school band and fencing on his school’s team. He is currently applying to colleges and plans to major in mathematics.
When asked what words of advice they might have for first-time volunteers the Songs replied: “Before the day of the event research the logistics of the project, the timing and location, then just show up and enjoy the opportunity!”
Please join us in thanking this wonderful father and son duo for their more than 100 hours of service with Jersey Cares!
Jersey Cares strives to make volunteering, Fun, Easy and Meaningful for individuals (and father and son duos) across the State. Join the Songs as Jersey Cares volunteers. It’s as easy as “Sign-up and Show-Up!” #jerseycares #volunteer #volunteerism