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Employees Give Back for Service Day

Staff lend their time to volunteer at a food pantry in Paterson on the first employee service day of the summer

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Five women stand with a shopping cart in an aisle of canned goods.
From left to right: Patti Flatley, Caroline Howell, Donna Meeker-O'Rourke, Elenice De Souza Oliveira, Debora Cubias

The first of two employee service days took place this June at the Father English Food Pantry where faculty and staff were invited to help stock groceries, pack and distribute food for those in need. The University’s Volunteer Center established employee service days based on growing interest in community service in addition to creating a space for staff to connect.

The Father English Multipurpose Community Center helps thousands of people in need each week throughout Paterson and also fills in gaps when there are needs in other local pantries. What makes Father English unique is that patrons are able to shop for their needs and preferences just as they would in a commercial supermarket as often as they need, typically being supplied with enough food to feed their families for one week.

A warehouse full of food awaits unpacking and sorting.
Volunteers unpack and sort food at the Father English Food Pantry in Paterson.

For some, the employee service day is a time to serve and be present. “Donating money is wonderful but the sense of giving my time physically to help others gives me the opportunity to put my faith into action,” says Caroline Howell, program assistant in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

A woman picks up greens from a box.
Debora Cubias, academic advisor in Student Services, packs individual bags of greens for clients of the the Father English Food Pantry.

For others, volunteering helps build a sense of community. “It’s so nice to meet and bond with volunteers from the University and those directly from the community who volunteer religiously,” says Donna Meeker-O’Rourke, program coordinator, Social Work and Child Advocacy. “I am grateful not only for the opportunity to volunteer but also for the lasting connections I’ve made.”

A woman holds small boxes of pasta in front of shelves.
Elenice De Souza Oliveira, associate professor of Justice Studies, packs boxes of pasta for clients of the Father English Food Pantry.

The next employee service day will take place on Friday, July 28, at Habitat for Humanity Paterson. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Kimberley Jean, Volunteer Coordinator, at or