We have the pleasure of introducing Jen Miller from Maplecrest Moves Charities in our October Supporter Corner. We met Jen a year ago and feel so incredibly lucky that we were introduced. During our initial chat, we explained how badly we needed access to a vehicle so we could get donations to organizations who struggled to make it to our warehouse. Jen immediately offered to help, and ever since she has been transporting thousands of items for families in need for Moms Helping Moms. Read more about her and Maplecrest Moves Charities below.

1. Tell us about Maplecrest Moves Charities and how the organization supports the community?
Maplecrest Moves Charities, a division of Maplecrest Ford Lincoln of Union, provides transportation logistics to non-profits to alleviate the stress of transporting items from collection point to distribution point. For many years, non-profits would ask us to donate a van, and they weren’t very picky. The community leaders would say, “We don’t care what kind of van. It can be old and not even work well. We just need something.”

We didn’t want to be in the business of donating old vans that would need perpetual maintenance or cost the charity a lot of money for insurance and gas; so, after digging a little deeper, we learned that the non-profits that moved “stuff,” like food, toys, clothing, feminine hygiene products, diapers, furniture, etc. only needed the van occasionally. By providing a driver and a van, we serve as a crucial link between the great non-profits that collect the items and the awesome charities that distribute them directly to those in need … all for free.

2. What has been the most compelling, or surprising thing, that you have learned through your work with Maplecrest?
I was most surprised by the sheer need. I never thought that so many non-profits lacked transportation logistics or help. I think they (the admins) just resigned themselves to doing things the way they’d always done them. Before Maplecrest Moves Charities came along, the non-profits would either have to pay to rent a van or they’d ask their volunteers to use their own cars to transport the items. Some of the stuff, like food and furniture, is really heavy. This would ruin the volunteers’ shocks and breaks. The old model was a drain on the productivity and resources of the non-profits and it put great volunteers at risk of ruining their cars. Most important, it meant that many non-profits couldn’t accomplish their missions.

Our work with Moms Helping Moms is a perfect example. Once a month, we fill the van with boxes and bags of diapers and we make five different stops to non-profit organizations. These smaller charities, the ones that directly serve the end-user client, do not have the resources to pick-up the diapers themselves. Without us, families would not receive diapers or infant items that are available to them. It just didn’t make sense.

With the support of Maplecrest’s owner, Stephen Giordano, we’ve been able to have a full-time driver, named Myron Clark. I think Myron, Stephen and I all realize that we are making a huge impact on the lives of so many people, and that’s an awesome feeling.

3. What kind of volunteer experiences do you find most rewarding?
I’m all about finding innovative ways to make an impact and help people discover something new about themselves. I coached girls soccer for years and loved to see their “aha moment,” when they learned a new skill or scored an awesome goal. I serve as Vice President of a national organization for women in the business of sports called WISE (Women in Sports and Events) and I started a mentor program that has changed the lives of hundreds or women in the business of sports. I also serve on the communications committee for the United Way Women United Northern New Jersey and I love being a part of a team that is making a difference for New Jersey families in need. I guess you can boil it down to the fact that I believe strongly in giving back and I like to find hands-on and innovative ways to do so.

4. What word or phrases do you most overuse?
I need to move or workout.

5. How do you like to spend your downtime?
Whether it’s at the Jersey Shore, a family event, making dinner or just hanging out, I love being with my three daughters, my husband, extended family, and my circle of friends. I also workout and like to be active all the time. My kids often laugh when I break out in a spontaneous stretch while chatting. I guess I like to be on the move … a lot.