Jim Chambers moved to Nutley with his partner, John, 35 years ago. Jim was working on Wall Street as an IT manager and the commute from Nutley was an easy one. Little did he know at the time what kind of impact Nutley would have on his life.
Fast forward to 2018. Jim had retired and wanted to give back to the community. He knew a little about Nutley Family Service Bureau (NFSB) as a long-time resident and decided to visit.
One day, he stopped by Shop Rite to pick up food to donate to The Pantry. He walked over to NFSB and met Eileen Painter, who was Executive Director at the time. Jim told Eileen he was interested in volunteering and asked if there were any opportunities available. Of course, NFSB can never have too many volunteers, so Eileen gave him an application.
Jim started volunteering at The Pantry in February of 2018 and hasn’t stopped.
“When I started, NFSB was operating out of St. Paul’s church,” Jim said. “They were in the process of moving to a new space where they are today. I helped out at The Pantry – checking the expiration dates of donated food, labeling items as they came in, organizing items on shelves – whatever they needed me to do.”
Feeding the Community
Jim soon started helping with biweekly food distributions. During his first year, he would take his SUV down to the Community Food Bank in Hillside to pick up food for that day’s distribution.
“I would put about 500 pounds of food in back of the SUV,” laughed Jim. “I would be driving on the Parkway with all that weight in the back and the nose of the car pointing up. There are bigger trucks now that can carry heavier loads, but I wanted to help in any way possible.”
Today, Jim is in charge of giving out proteins during food distributions. He shows clients what types of protein they have, such as meat, chicken, or eggs, and finds out what each client would like. The gratitude expressed by clients during distributions makes the experience very rewarding.
“A lot of people who come to food distributions have no where else to go for food,” Jim said. “They always thank us and say that they don’t know what they would do without us. Over time, we’ve built relationships and know each other by name. We stop and talk when we see each other in town. It makes volunteering that much more meaningful when you’re helping your neighbors.”
A Family of Volunteers
When asked what he enjoys most about volunteering at NFSB, Jim answer without hesitation.
“The volunteers here are a great group of people,” Jim said. “We have a great time and enjoy each other’s company. Some people come and go, but the core group of people I volunteered with four years ago are still here. We’ve become friends and spend time together outside of volunteering. It’s like having an NFSB family.”
Jim plans to be a part of this family of volunteers for a long time.
“I’ve enjoyed living here for 35 years, and it’s very fulfilling at this stage of my life to have the ability to help people in my community,” Jim said. “Nutley has given so much to me. Volunteering allows me to give back. I’ll continue to do this for as long as I can.”