Nonprofit serves the less fortunate in a ‘transformational, not transactional’ manner

Organization looks to serve families and learn who they are and their stories.

Father and son, Paul and Jadon Short, collect boxes of pasta to package precooked meals for Foster the Family at the Medford ShopRite (Krystal Nurse/The Sun).

South Jersey has an abundance of nonprofits where residents can volunteer and learn more about those less fortunate. Serve the City South Jersey is one, and it digs deep into the lives of the people it serves.

Based in Medford, Serve the City South Jersey started in 2018 following an international trip Core Team member Paul Short took in 2017 to Brussels, Belgium, where he learned about the global headquarters of Serve the City.

I was impressed with the leadership,” Short recalled. “I was moved by people’s desire to volunteer, mobilize resources around significant global issues regarding human trafficking, prostitution, refugees, the environment, youth and single moms and dads.

In reaching out to potential clients, Serve the City works closely with Cherry Hill-based Foster the Family, a nonprofit advocating and supporting adoption, foster families and “vulnerable children”; Voorhees’ Brandywine Senior Living Center; and Virtua Health, among others, according to Short.

The nearly two-year-old nonprofit does exclusive hands-on work in Medford in various capacities including, but not limited to, working in conjunction with the Medford Friends Quaker Meeting and Migrant Worker Outreach to help refugees and local workers.

We’ve done an active project with them, and we hope to do one with the migrant workers and families that are in the area,” Short noted. “We’re continuing to build that out and identify the resources and needs that are out there.

As a nonprofit serving South Jersey, Serve the City focuses its efforts in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties at the moment due to identified nonprofits and current volunteers, according to Short. To his delight, there are about 30 to 50 recurring volunteers.

The organization hopes to branch out to the religious and education sectors for more opportunities to help families.

Participating in the nonprofit calls for people to love volunteering and hearing about the residents they help, the biggest reason Short said he jumped aboard.

I also enjoy the human service side of it, where humans come together to interact, integrate and create conversations,” he explained.

The team member’s admiration for the nonprofit’s human aspect stems from its tagline, “We want to be transformational and not transactional.” Volunteers are strongly encouraged to meet with those who are in vulnerable situations and learn about them and  their situations, building a lasting relationship.

While the organization enjoys projects where it collects goods or creates objects for families, it prefers to have a “sustainable transformation” with others and, it is hoped, to have recipients become volunteers.

“It’s the idea that we’re not just there to do a task or are task-driven,” Short stressed. “We want to focus on the people that are there and getting to build a relationship with them.

Previous volunteers have created compassion care baskets for Foster the Family (baskets filled with toiletries and necessities), packaged pre-cooked meals, held clothing and toy drives and assisted in a facelift for Medford’s gazebo in front of the Rowan College of Burlington County science building.

As the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service approaches on Jan. 20, Short said Serve the City invites people who are interested in becoming project leaders to a training where prospective members will learn what’s to come for February. Those interested can learn more by direct messaging Serve the City on Facebook.com/ServeTheCitySJ, or by emailing Michelle@ServeTheCitySJ.org.

Short hopes the organization can obtain its own 501C3 status this year (it is under the international organization’s nonprofit status) and reach out to more volunteers and area organizations to build partnerships and grow the volunteer base.

To learn more about Serve the City South Jersey or to become a volunteer, visit ServeTheCitySJ.org.