Volunteer Spolight: Jan O’Keefe

Jan has logged more volunteer hours donated than any other single volunteer at Norwescap.

April 28, 2023 – If you live in or near Phillipsburg, you may have stopped in Norwescap’s Thrift Store to do a little shopping from time to time. And if you’ve come to visit the store, you have very likely met Jan O’Keefe. A loyal volunteer who helps run the store every Wednesday and Friday, Jan has donated more of her time than any other single volunteer at Norwescap.

Jan actually started “training” for her volunteer position well before she knew anything about Norwescap. In her late teens, Jan worked at Woolworth’s in New Brunswick, and found that her favorite part of the job was setting up the merchandise displays on the counters. Her store managers noticed her creative flair and Woolworth’s started sending her to create window displays for new store openings. But knowing that she needed a more practical career, Jan put herself through nursing school and spent her career at Morristown Medical Center, working as an oncology nurse and then an orthopedic trauma nurse.

After her retirement, Jan’s husband unfortunately passed away, and she wanted to do something meaningful to fill her time. Her daughter introduced her to Norwescap’s Food Bank Director, and Jan decided that the Thrift Store was a perfect match. Volunteering at the store allows her to be creative, stay active, and meet all sorts of nice people – as well as some “very interesting people,” as Jan describes some of the customers.

Norwescap’s Thrift Store offers a wide variety of items, from school supplies to clothing, household décor, holiday decorations, greeting cards, and more. The store is bright and cheerful, and the items are well-organized and nicely displayed, making for a truly enjoyable shopping experience – thanks the creative care Jan, working alongside Kate from Norwescap’s team, takes in setting up the store shelves. Every donated item is carefully reviewed, cleaned, and showcased; most items are priced at just a dollar or two, which Jan says is especially helpful to many of the customers who struggle financially.

But the store also invites shoppers who enjoy hunting for treasures while knowing that their purchases are supporting a good cause – all of the items in Norwescap’s Thrift Store are donated, so 100% of purchases support our Food Bank. When Jan first started volunteering, she says, bringing in more than $100 in a day was rare; now the store regularly brings in more than $400 a day, in total raising over $30,000 each year for the Food Bank.

Jan is modest about her contributions to Norwescap, but we know the success of the Thrift Store wouldn’t be possible without her. So next time you’re in Phillipsburg, stop by the store at 201 Broad Street to do some shopping for a good cause – and be sure to say hello to Jan!

This story, and many other great accounts of Norwescap, is documented in our 2022 Annual Report. See the PDF of this shareable report by clicking here.

April is National Volunteer Month, and as part of the mission of Norwescap, we celebrated by showcasing many examples of exemplary Volunteerism and Civil Engagement on our Social Media feeds. Please be sure to connect with us there to stay tuned: Norwescap Facebook Page, Norwescap LinkedIn Page, Norwescap Instagram & Norwescap on YouTube

posted by Dawn Hartfelder – updated 4/28/2023