Trudi Herman and her late husband Irwin are the founders of It Takes a Village New Jersey, a community of volunteers who help people of all ages in need of assistance.
The organization was established in Moorestown in April 2011. Volunteers and clients are connected in Cinnaminson, Delran, Hainesport, Maple Shade, Moorestown and Mount Laurel.
“The basic idea is to help people who want to stay in their own homes as long as possible,” said Herman.
Herman and her husband developed the idea after reading about Beacon Hill Village, located in Boston, in The New York Times.
At the time, only 45 villages were located throughout the country. Now, there are over 300.
It Takes a Village New Jersey offers services for clients including grocery shopping, companionship, errands, driving and giving care takers a break.
Clients and volunteers are paired based on questionnaires and are advised to work with each other’s schedules.
“In ten years, we’ve only had one problem,” Herman said, “Because the volunteers were wonderful and the people were appreciative and they didn’t push them too much.”
Since 2011, Herman has seen many volunteers dedicate their time to meeting clients’ needs.
“I don’t think I would be talking to you today if it wasn’t for them,” she said, “Because don’t forget, I couldn’t drive and COVID started, so they called me and said, ‘Don’t you go any place.’”
Herman explained that the volunteers are different from others.
“They’re not just about themselves and what they need, they’re good people.”
Herman and Chris Dvorak, social worker for It Takes a Village New Jersey, interview potential volunteers before connecting them with clients.
Volunteers must attend an hourlong training session to become familiar with their responsibilities and are also provided additional car insurance.
Herman emphasized that due to the pandemic, volunteers have been hesitant to come back.
But she is thankful for how they have helped their clients in whatever way they could.
“In this era of sadness and disappointment and frustration, it’s wonderful that we have so many people who care about other people enough to give their love and time.”