We are sad to say that our own Cyndy Wyatt, IFPO volunteer extraordinaire, will be relocating with her husband Ken and the Wyatt-Marin family to Vermont shortly. Cyndy intends to commute from Vermont to be with us at pantry as often as possible. We are thrilled that Rita Pignatelli has agreed to head our Registration Team and join the IFPO Advisory Board.
Cyndy Wyatt is an active congregant of our partner Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel and longtime/founding board member of the IFPO.
Cyndy has assembled and coordinated the daunting task of leading and managing the IFPO's front desk team, where a core group of volunteers ensures each client is correctly registered and checked in with a smile on pantry days. She maintains the client databases, and creates and submits monthly and annual reporting to state agencies.
Cyndy knows the stories behind the faces seen repeatedly at the IFPO. With empathy and warmth for every client, Cyndy serves as the IFPO's main social service resource, with a vast knowledge about a large network of community contacts. She has found employment for countless clients, She maintains a file on social services available in Essex County, provides referrals to pantries for emergency guests who reside outside Orange and E. Orange, and gives other social services information, including homeless services, summer camp information and summer feeding programs, disability information, and veterans information. She coordinates with the Short Hills letter carriers to ensure that the IFPO is the recipient of their annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.
In 2015, seeing the tremendous need in the community, Cyndy started the IFPO’s diaper program. In 2017, we distributed over 100,000 diapers to help keep babies clean, dry and healthy. Today, almost 300 babies are registered to receive monthly diapers, wipes, and diaper cream through the program Cyndy started, helping not only to keep these babies out of the emergency room as a result of staying in diapers too long but benefitting the entire family. Cyndy also created a connection between the IFPO and Moms Helping Mom Foundation which has provided our diaper clients with diapers and baby clothes.
Cyndy's involvement in Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom has helped expand the "interfaith" efforts of the IFPO even further, as members of the Jam-e-Masjid Islamic Center have prepared holiday fruit baskets for IFPO clients and volunteered at the pantry.
Cyndy is the one the IFPO counts on to know when an IFPO client needs a special boost because of a life circumstance such as an illness, difficult housing situation, or personal circumstance, and she steps in to see what can be done to help. Cyndy regularly visited a belovedl IFPO client, Dr. Lucille Groden, at home, in the hospital and later in a nursing home after pantry when Dr. Groden was ill. Cyndy's compassion ensured not only that Dr. Groden had the solace of a regular visitor but that her caregivers in later months knew she was special.
For several years, Cyndy's awesome coordination efforts ensured that a number of IFPO families received special support at Holiday time. Sponsors were found to provide special gifts for families with school age children who are experiencing challenges that we thought deserved special support during the holidays. Here are just a few examples of the life changing holiday gifts that would not have happened without Cyndy's compassion and diligence:
---Some of our participating clients who would be experiencing snow for the first time received boots and warm jackets.
--- A number of families did not own adequate bedding, and they received new comforters to keep warm at night.
---Three families with autistic children received sponsor gifts to delight the children and give their exhausted parents a few minutes of down time.
---Three students (including a needy high school student and a preteen who was being bullied at the library) received computers.
---A large family with three babies received a three-month supply of diapers.
Cyndy's "can do" attitude never wavers. This coming summer, as a result of Cyndy's efforts, the children of ten IFPO clients will participate in NCJW's Back to School Store, receiving free new school clothing and shoes, backpacks and school supplies, and books!
In recognition of these efforts and more, Cyndy received the Service Award from TSTI this May.
TSTI's IFPO team, our IFPO Board, and our IFPO volunteers know Cyndy as a wonderful friend, role model and inspiration to us all. We know she will be with us as often as possible, but we will miss her terribly.