Working in senior management for JVC in the 1970s, Angela Kircher traveled quite a bit and worked long hours communicating with executives in Japan. Needless to say, Angela’s plate was overflowing.
As a third generation Nutleyite, however, she made time to volunteer with Nutley Family Service Bureau (NFSB) when a friend asked her to get involved.
“One of my good friends was president of the Women’s Auxiliary,” Angela recalls. “She called me one day and asked me to be on the Women’s Auxiliary Board of the Nutley Family Service Bureau with her. I started by volunteering with the Auxiliary Board. We would send cards to people who were sick and make calls to people who needed help.”
The Women’s Auxiliary’s would support NFSB programs and services by managing fundraisers throughout the year and providing proceeds to NFSB. A past President of the Women’s Auxiliary, Angela fondly remembers two fundraising events – Fashion Shows and Lollipop Parties
“The Thrift Shop didn’t generate nearly as much income as it does today, but we hosted an annual Fashion Show that was always a huge fundraiser,” Angela said. “We would hold it in the afternoon and people would take off from work to come.”
Angela remembers Fashion Shows being held at various venues such as the Westmont Country Club and assisted by local merchants such as Sylvia Manson, a dress shop on Franklin Avenue where Nutley Wine Shop stands today. These events would attract 350-400 people!
“A Lollipop Party was like an afternoon cocktail party,” laughed Angela. “We would have a food committee and a bar committee, and we all made hors d’oeuvres to serve guests. You couldn’t sell drinks, so we would sell lollipops, which guests would turn in at the bar for a drink. That’s why they called it a Lollipop Party.”
Lollipop Parties were held at Kingsland Manor, a well-known historic home on Kingsland Street. Angela recalls the parties eventually moving to the home of Ruth Bedford, affectionately known as the matriarch of Nutley and a long-time supporter and board member of NFSB.
Like many nonprofits, NFSB shines during times of crisis, responding to the needs of the community when circumstances are most difficult. When asked to name the biggest crisis of her nearly 50 years with the Women’s Auxiliary and NFSB, Angela responded without hesitation.
“Covid was the biggest crisis,” Angela said. “People needed food assistance and nobody was allowed inside. We started passing food through windows and eventually set up a tent outside. We also gave lunch to school kids who couldn’t get free lunches from school. It was a huge undertaking.”
Angela recalls how many people contacted NFSB for mental health counseling during the pandemic. NFSB shifted to telehealth to provide services to as many people as possible.
“Years ago, people didn’t want to be seen going in and out of the Mental Health Center or the Food Pantry,” Angela said. “There was a stigma attached to both because people were embarrassed to ask for food or therapy. Fortunately, you don’t see that as much today.”
Today, Angela serves on the finance and facilities committees as a member of the Board of Trustees and volunteers at the Thrift Shop. She continues to be inspired by the commitment of her fellow volunteers and the difference NFSB makes in people’s lives.
“NFSB is like the heart of Nutley,” Angela said. “When somebody needs help, the town always comes together. NFSB does so much more, especially when people are going through really bad times. It’s such a heartwarming organization.”
If you would like to learn more about NFSB programs and volunteering opportunities, please visit the NFSB website or call 973-667-1884.