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They say it takes a village…and when it comes to the Walk-in Dinner Program this certainly applies! A team of nine is at the shelter seven days a week to pack up, deliver, and distribute 150 meals that have been generously donated. We are profoundly grateful to each and every one of these volunteers who have been dedicated over many months, sometimes working several days a week.

Board President Paul Shackford, who was doing it all with Kate in the early days of the pandemic, devised a detailed and comprehensive system of getting the job done under new and often changing conditions. Now, this effort is supervised daily by experienced Team Leaders. We greatly appreciate and acknowledge the weekly commitment of these volunteers. They train new volunteers and ensure that everyone knows what needs to be done to get the meals packed up securely and out the door on time to those awaiting a delicious meal. The challenges are many, but the rewards are as well!

Thank you to Dave Dickerson, Lisa Eckerson, Tommy Mergola, Brett Norton, Peggy LaScala, and Sheila Verna!

  • Dave Dickerson is the coordinator in the sheltering network for our home church, Ridgewood United Methodist. When the network closed down last March, he quickly asked how he and his wife JoAnn could help Family Promise. They were two of the first drivers and now Dave is Team Leader on both Saturdays and Sundays!
  • Lisa Eckerson is a Thanksgiving volunteer who answered the call and helped several days a week during the World Central Kitchen initiative in Englewood. She was also the Assistant Director at Camp Lots-of-Fun last summer! She stepped up as a Team Leader in Hackensack early on.
  • Tommy Mergola is a longtime friend of Family Promise who coordinates the enormous Thanksgiving effort each year. He was the person who first reached out to World Central Kitchen on our behalf. When Kate and Paul needed support as things were changing at the shelter due to COVID-19, Tommy stepped forward and joined the team.
  • Brett Norton has been coordinating for his synagogue, Temple Avodat Shalom in River Edge for many years, both for the WIDP and the sheltering network. Family Promise has a long history with Avodat Shalom. Brett saw the need immediately and began raising funds so the Temple could continue to support the dinner program. He volunteers with the Temple and also as Team Leader every Monday. Brett has also helped to organize many catered meals on behalf of Family Promise and is always looking for new and creative solutions for the meal program.
  • Peggy LaScala returned to FP as a weekend volunteer shortly before COVID-19 shut everything down, having been active with the Family Shelter at St. Cecilia’s in Englewood many years ago. She reached out to see how she could help and was soon in both Englewood and Hackensack several days a week. When the need arose for an additional TL, Paul knew just who to ask!
  • Sheila Verna has volunteered with Family Promise in many important and diverse roles, including at events and as former co-director of the Youth Council. Sheila has always been passionate about the Walk-in Dinner Program and has provided unwavering support there and also throughout the spring and summer with the World Central Kitchen effort in Englewood.

We are grateful to all of you for your hard work under difficult circumstances which you do with grace, good humor, flexibility, and great compassion.

To learn more about how to get involved with the Walk-in Dinner Program please email Margo at mheller@bergenfamilypromise.org.