Maplewood resident and mother Katie Rickard is a service-oriented person. Rickard works at CASA for Children of Essex County, an independent court authorized nonprofit organization that trains volunteers to serve as advocates for children in foster care.
With the Presidential Inauguration looming (note: Rickard’s preferred candidate did not win), Rickard wanted to spend the weekend doing something productive and helping others get involved as well.
“So my idea came about after Election Day and I really felt like I needed to get my hands dirty…. I saw on social media the outpouring (especially in our community) of people feeling helpless. So I decided to be the match.com for volunteer work on Inauguration Weekend. There are many sites that do this, but, in my opinion, they are completely overwhelming and hard to navigate. So I decided to do it FOR people. And it worked!”
Rickard posted the idea on her personal page, the Maplewood Moms Facebook Group, and on the Tuscan Families group. She noted, “I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew, so I didn’t do [Swap SOMa] Lounge or other schools/community groups.”
The response was overwhelming, and on Friday through Sunday, Rickard has lined up more than 200 South Orange and Maplewood residents to perform service work in and around Essex County.
SOMA activists will be serving at:
- Habitat for Humanity in Paterson
- Ronald McDonald House in New Brunswick
- Oasis Women’s Shelter in Paterson
- Meals on Wheels in Springfield
- CUMAC Food Pantry in Paterson
- Community Food Bank in Hillside
- Backpack Pals/Rent Party in Maplewood
- Eric Johnson House in Morristown
- Toni’s Kitchen in Montclair
- Hoboken Shelter in Hoboken
“My hope is that the people who are serving will not make this a ‘one and done’ day, but will continue to serve.”
If you want to sign up now, Rickard says it’s a bit too late for her to place volunteers, “but I am happy to provide people with ways they can either a) do service work at home that home or b) help in the future.”
Potential volunteers can find Rickard on Facebook.
Rickard has enjoyed the experience so much that she is contemplating how to make it a full-time gig.
“I would love to do this full time. I know people WANT to do volunteer and service work, they just don’t know where to start. I would love to be a resource for people searching for ways to help.”