It is all about giving back to the community.
Call me old fashioned, but I believe in the idea of community service, giving back, and helping out. I have been volunteering my time for decades. From running a learn-to-swim program at the local Y to donating my time to events like Play for Pink to support breast cancer research, or making donations to deserving charities, giving back is how I live an attitude of gratitude.
What is an attitude of gratitude?
That word, gratitude, has become a popular beacon across all media channels. What does it mean to be grateful? Living in an affluent area, community service can sometimes be relegated to the requirement checklist for achieving something. I have been very fortunate to live a nice life. I work hard, but I love what I do. I have a lovely home, a great husband, and two wonderful grown sons.
While it may be true that I am truly grateful for so many things, I wondered what I could do to express that gratitude. When Thyme & Place Design celebrated 20 years in business, I decided to create a give-back initiative for a local group that helps local families. As a designer specializing in kitchen design, I create award-winning kitchens. These *hearts of the home* provide meals and hold space for family gatherings, which is so important in today’s world. Social Service Association of Ridgewood and Vicinity was the perfect choice for Thyme & Place Design to lend a hand.
Neighbors helping neighbors since 1913.
Since 1913, SSA has been helping local families. “We are neighbors helping neighbors — on a mission to provide food, emergency rent, utility assistance, and support services to individuals & families in Ridgewood, Glen Rock, Midland Park, Ho-Ho-Kus, Wyckoff, and Waldwick, New Jersey.” SSA is celebrating its 110th anniversary. Even through the pandemic, SSA never stopped providing for those in need. Serving a diverse community has its struggles. This year has been especially difficult keeping shelves stocked. The demand is increasing. Their greatest success is helping someone move off the cycle of need.
How do they do all of this?
Yes, indeed it takes a village. Success comes through the support of the Village of Ridgewood, an amazing army of volunteers, and support from the community. Cheryl Sorabella is the President of the Board. She tells me that the volunteers provide and execute everything for both the pantry and the programs offered. Cheryl says that without their amazing group of volunteers, they would have never been able to get through the pandemic. With the rising cost of childcare, food, and housing, the SSA has seen an increase of 30% in need over the last 18 months. Families have experienced life-changing events such as illness, job loss, and underemployment. In order to o qualify for help from SSA, recipients must provide proof of residency. Once that is established, there are a variety of programs available to help them.
Nancy Dreszler is the agency director. Nancy is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of SSA. She reports to the board and manages the budget to effectively provide services. She is the face of the pantry and liaison to community partners, clients, and volunteers. She is a very important part of their success.
What programs does SSA provide?
- First is the self-select pantry. Rather than just handing a pre-filled bag of food items to a visitor, patrons can “shop” and choose the items they need or want. I feel this adds a bit of dignity to the outreach.
- Next, since the pantry mainly stocks non-perishables, there is a voucher program. This program enables patrons to purchase fresh foods and vegetables vital to balanced meals.
- Third is Thanksgiving, which provides meals for over 100 families. Each family is presented with a bountiful box to prepare a delicious Thanksgiving meal. Most of those donations come from local schools, houses of worship, businesses and individual donations.
- The holiday program provides gift cards to purchase holiday gifts. Birthday Bags are available for families of children under 10 years of age to pick up so they can provide birthday celebrations for their children.
- Summer camp scholarships and childcare assistance for working families are also made possible through donations.
- SSA also employs a part-time social worker and case manager for those requiring additional services beyond the food pantry.
Beginning in 2021, I have given SSA a portion of every in-home consultation fee I have collected from my clients. As 2022 comes to a close, I will be continuing that practice. Social Service Association helps households struggling to meet their families’ needs. What better way is there to help the community where I live and work? All of SSA’s services are provided from their HQ, a tiny but mighty space at the train station in Ridgewood NJ. If you would like to donate or volunteer, please visit their website https://www.ssaridgewood.org/. And if you know of a family in need, please forward this post to them or let them know about SSA.
In the words of Winnie the Pooh “A little consideration, a little thought for others makes all the difference.”
Sharon L. Sherman, ASID, NCIDQ, CID, CKD
Sharon is the founder of Thyme and Place Design, headquartered in Wyckoff, New Jersey. She’s been practicing kitchen and bath design for the past 40 years and is a Past President of the American Society of Interior Designers – New Jersey chapter. She is a current member of the editorial board of KB&B Magazine, the official magazine of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Sharon has also received a Kitchen Bath Design News 2022 Innovator of the Year Award.
Her award-winning designs and editorial comments have been featured in Forbes, The New York Times, Design Milk, Bergen NJ magazine, Kitchen & Bath Design News, Woman’s Day, Country Decorating, Design NJ, New Jersey Home Magazine, 201 Magazine, The Best of Bergen, Savvy Living, The Vue, The Record, The Star-Ledger, and Aspire as well as several books.
Her blog “Tips from the Trade” appears in digital form on DesignNJ.com and KBBonline.com. She has also appeared on HGTV’s My Big Amazing Renovation and episodes of House Smarts with Lou Manfredini. In 2022, she was a featured *Voices From The Industry* speaker at the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s international convention and is available for further speaking engagements nationwide on all topics related to running a successful kitchen and bath design business.