A Nutley resident since 1983, Ken Cibelli had been receiving mailings from Nutley Family Service Bureau (NFSB) for years and sending donations from time to time. In 2017, he finally reached out to NFSB and offered to volunteer.
“In the back of my mind, I always thought about getting involved because the Bureau seemed like a fantastic organization. This went on for decades,” Ken laughed. “A little more than four years ago, I called and spoke with Eileen Painter, who was Executive Director at the time, and she was enthusiastic about what I could bring to the table as a volunteer.”
With a background in IT programming, Ken was soon asked to help with NFSB’s computer network. Before long, he was consulting the mental health services team about the tools and controls required for HIPAA compliance and other government programs. While his contributions on the technology side were important for the organization, Ken spent most of his time volunteering for the Food Pantry.
“For me, there’s nothing better than having direct interactions with people who benefit from the services we provide, especially during the Scouting for Food Drive and food distributions.” Ken said. “I always told clients that we appreciate them being there as much as they appreciate being able to get the food they need.”
Seeing the smiles of those who visit the Food Pantry and using his IT skills to improve the day-to-day operations of NFSB have been particularly rewarding for Ken. He realized before he joined the board that many of the trustees were doing exactly that – using their expertise to support the NFSB mission.
Although Ken might seem like a natural fit for the NFSB board, he was caught off-guard when approached with the idea.
“I wasn’t looking for a high-profile position and didn’t expect to be asked,” Ken said. “As I met more trustees and more people in the community, they thought I was doing a good job and saw me as a liaison between the board and day-to-day operations.”
Ken joined the board in January of this year. He has only been on the board for a short time, but he likes what he sees.
“I knew a lot of board members before I joined,” Ken said. “The people here are extraordinarily friendly. They’re willing to go out of their way to speak with you about something you don’t know, but they also want to hear what you have to say. The best feeling is when you propose an idea that resonates with people so they’ll run with it and see where it leads.”
Ken is excited about what he’ll be able to contribute as a board member to support the NFSB mission. Working on the organization’s front lines as a volunteer, he has been able to see the impact of their programs firsthand.
“For people in town with mental health issues and food insecurity issues, the organization has always seemed to be there for them when nobody else was,” Ken said. “It’s such a positive environment here, especially when you see how we’re all pulling in the same direction toward the same point on the shore.”
NFSB is extremely grateful for Ken’s many contributions to NFSB and the Nutley community as we recognize National Volunteer Month. If you would like to learn more about volunteering opportunities at NFSB, visit the Volunteers page on our website, stop by the Thrift Shop or Food Pantry, or call us at 973-667-1884.