Thank you for inviting me to share my thoughts regarding my reason for becoming a member of Impact100 SJ. First, may I say what an honor it is to be a member of this group of women involved in this engagement of collective giving. I have always wanted to give back to society as a thanksgiving — not only for what I have been blessed with, but also for the joy it gives me in giving to others. I believe it is not just important to give to those in need, but to open our hearts to all people who surround us each and every day.
I joined Impact100 to focus on specific non-profits in our community and the collective giving aspect of its operating model. It’s a great way to focus in on organizations we may not otherwise know about who could benefit from our high impact grants.
I am a charter member, joining in 2017, and never hesitated when approached! One of my dear friends I admire, Nancy Weber, explained the philosophy of Impact100 and I immediately knew it was going to be a good fit for me. It’s an opportunity to make a significant difference in the way smaller, non-profit organizations serve their client populations. To me that is invaluable.
For those who don’t know me, I was born in Camden NJ and lived there until moving to the suburbs at the age of 3. My father was a Camden police officer and moved on to the role of Detective in Camden County. My mother was the daughter of Italian immigrants. She worked hard from her childhood until her kids were out of the house and on their own. She started golfing at the age of 62 and stopped playing at 85. I graduated from Thomas Jefferson School of Nursing and immediately jumped into a career that I loved! I did everything and met the most interesting people along the way. I played golf with my Mother until I met my wonderful husband Anton, a widower with two little children, and stayed at home to raise our family.
My Mother was a great influencer and role model. Growing up I remember her as a doer, always volunteering at our schools to lend support to any committee in need. She was also a very active volunteer at the Cathedral Kitchen in Camden, filling containers every week with delicious home-cooked casseroles that were picked up and distributed to families at risk of not having enough food to eat. My Mother loved doing this because it was a special way she could serve others. This has always resonated with me and is a lasting, happy memory that has inspired me to volunteer at Cathedral Kitchen myself. My Mother was also a volunteer at St. John Of God for many years. Perhaps this is why I worked in Special Education in my later years as a school nurse.
Fast forward. I am in my 12th year as a volunteer at Cathedral Kitchen, second generation, happy and proud to have engaged my grandchildren, the third generation in our family, in helping and making Cathedral Kitchen a regular routine in our lives. How very blessed am I to find a wonderful place to bring my tired self at the end of a day to volunteer and walk out after an hour and a half of hard work with a new energy that I didn’t think was possible?
The COVID virus has changed my mission and commitment to Cathedral kitchen in that I can’t volunteer inside the kitchen but outside. I show up with essentials that are needed to fill bags with food and also any items they need that week. The grandkids help out making sandwiches, and delivering anything their “Nonna” has bought or made for my beloved Cathedral Kitchen. Isolation has changed my priorities and given me time to reflect on being thankful for what I have been blessed with and for personal struggles I have no control over. I stop and think about the bigger struggles life has brought to our brothers and sisters who have less, with much bigger problems, and I pray for their strength.
I currently serve on the Impact100 South Jersey Membership Committee, but would like to become more involved beyond that. I hope that will happen as I continue on. And it is my hope that by my joining it will influence those close to me to consider making Impact 100 part of their personal journey as well.