In traditional Thanksgiving spirit, featured on the following pages are three individuals who give back to the community and make a difference every day. Dave Kampschmidt is a retired executive who has pivoted to become a “career volunteer” in Franklin Lakes. Lisa Sammataro is a realtor associate with Keller Williams Village Square Realty, who dedicates much of her time to community service as the president of the Ridgewood Rotary Club. Daryl Rogers currently serves as the CEO of Eastern Christian Children’s Retreat (ECCR). This Wyckoff-based organization cares for and supports individuals of all ages with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
We spoke to them about the rewards and impact of their journeys in community service.
“While I was working, I was involved with fundraising for Meals on Wheels and the United Way,” says Dave, “but I missed the hands-on aspect of community service. When I retired, I took EMS and CERT classes and joined the Franklin Lakes Ambulance Corps.”
Being a part of the Corps made a deep impression on him. “I can’t think of anything else that will give you a better feeling,” he says. “You see the good and the bad in people. It changes your perspective.”
Dave is an active member of the Franklin Lakes Lions Club and has recently retired as president. “We fundraise for 24-28 charities a year. Now, these organizations are struggling because we cannot do it due to COVID.” The club has raised over $1 million for charity since its inception.
While growing up in Shelbina, Missouri, Dave learned volunteerism from his parents. “It runs in our family,” says Dave, “my mother is almost 90 and still actively involved.”
“Volunteers are the backbone of the town. Volunteering gives you purpose and keeps you happy. It’s a good reason to get out of your bathrobe!”
As president of the Ridgewood AM Rotary Club, Lisa Sammataro takes its motto, “Service above Self” to heart. “When I was a stay-at-home mom, I volunteered a lot; however, once I re-entered the workforce, it was harder to find opportunities that were a good fit for me. I joined Rotary because the volunteering was baked right in! It’s a good way to connect with like-minded people,” she says.
Throughout the pandemic, the club supported local organizations including Social Services Association of Ridgewood (SSA), West Bergen Mental Health, the Y, and Focus on HoHoKus with donations.
“Our club partners with other service-oriented organizations to help benefit the community,” she says. The Ridgewood AM Rotary has helped to build a playground and collects for food, coat, and shoe drives. We make a significant effort to support small businesses, especially over the past year with COVID.
“We identify a need and move quickly to address it,” says Lisa.
In addition to the charitable support Rotary provides local organizations, the club annually selects three high school seniors to receive scholarships. They also distribute dictionaries to 4th-grade students throughout Ridgewood, HoHoKus, and Glen Rock each year.
“I like spending time with everyone in the club and building connections with them,” says Lisa. “The group encompasses a wide range of ages and occupations, and you get to know people you may never come across in your daily routine.”
Daryl Rogers was on the job four weeks when the world came to a halt thanks to COVID. “It’s by far the largest undertaking we’ve experienced. We've had to spend most of our resources mitigating it early on," he says.
One of the reasons ECCR came through the COVID emergency safely was because of its dedicated staff who took the necessary precautions to guard the health of vulnerable residents. “It’s important to make sure they are protected. Our staff took it to heart because they look at our residents as family members,” notes Daryl.
Daryl’s relationship with ECCR began long before his employment there. He spent six years on its board and served as vice president and chair of the HR committee, where he continued to volunteer prior to his staff position. Daryl’s professional skillsets, along with his experience with ECCR on the volunteer level, were crucial in bringing the organization through the challenges of 2020 successfully.
“In the hospital system, we look at patients. Here they are residents. We become part of their family, and we know them well. “It’s gratifying to work in an organization where we can see our residents smile.”
The Eastern Christian Children’s Retreat (ECCR) is a nonprofit organization serving the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Along with the congregate care facility and three on-site lodges in Wyckoff, ECCR has ten community-based group homes where residents enjoy supervised, supported living throughout Bergen and Passaic Counties.
ECCR also offers a Special Needs Adult Day Program and short-term respite care. They provide a nurturing atmosphere where residents have the comfort and security of a homelike setting.