In A Time Of Crisis, Essex County’s Volunteer Group Neighbor Brigade Helps Others

By Dawn M. Chiossi
In a time of crisis, individuals can reach out to West Essex’s Neighbor Brigade. This volunteer group service originated in the fall of 2017, and has been thriving ever since. Caring, compassion, and community, this is the philosophy of this inspirational volunteer group. The idea of the Neighbor Brigade is simple: It’s all about neighbors helping neighbors, people banding together to help others in a time of crisis, to give aid and comfort to them. It is such a simple idea and one that works.
As everyone can attest, a crisis of any kind can feel like a frightening ambush. Whether it is a natural disaster, serious illness, hospitalization, loss of a loved one, or anything of that nature, even the smallest of tasks or chores can make their situation feel insurmountable. It is no secret that everyone needs a little help sometimes: Life often throws even the most independent of people curve balls.
Now, the Neighbor Brigade is extending a hand to their neighbors in need.
The Neighbor Brigade is sponsored by West Essex First Presbyterian Church, and is a community specific network of volunteers from all around that can be mobilized to help.
West Essex’s chapter of this service is the first New Jersey based chapter of the Neighbor Brigade, by Theresa Akersten, Barb Bruchac and Carol De France. According to De France, the West Essex Chapter is one of more than 20 chapters of the Neighbor Brigade sponsored through central Massachusetts based Neighbor Brigade Organization. This nonprofit organization has more than 3,000 volunteers carrying out acts of kindness in their local communities. With this free service, the folks of the Neighbor Brigade handle chores and day to day tasks for their neighbors in their time of trial. The program is designed to take the burdens off of them. It’s all about allowing that person to step back, take a deep breath, and not worry so much about all of the little things that can easily
pile up. These caring, amazing volunteers manage all sorts of tasks such as
preparing a meal, providing transportation, doing errands, light housework, taking care of pets, and much more. Even if it’s just making a friendly visit, the neighbor brigade will be there.
This is a great hands-on way to make a difference in the lives of others. Being a volunteer is rewarding, easy and extremely flexible as well.
Volunteers are notified with an email alert and can sign up for tasks that would best benefit their schedules.

As an organization that brings people together, the Neighbor Brigade is two-fold. It gives people a chance to volunteer and give their energies and talents to others, while giving the clients and opportunity to have a breather, and have some welcomed relief.
And ever since its inception, the program has been wildly successful.
The Neighbor Brigade program was the inspiration of Pam Washek. After
suffering her first bout with cancer in 2002, Washek transformed her challenges into generosity, thinking of others who were facing similar situations along with her friend and fellow cancer survivor, Jean Seiden, who established the Wayland Angels organization. Turning pain into purpose, fear into faith, these amazing ladies sought to pay it forward, since her own neighbors were so wonderful during her own cancer treatments, providing acts of kindness and support to
others. In 2010 the Wayland Angels blossomed into the Neighbor Brigade,
providing the folks in communities beyond Wayland the wonderful support of their caring neighbors.
For De France and the others at the Neighbor Brigade it’s all about the personal touch. “We hope to inspire many more volunteers to join our network so that they too may make connections with others in need throughout the community and come away with a renewed feeling that it is possible to make a difference with others though small but caring acts of kindness,” De France shares.
To take advantage of this service, or for further information or details, contact 1-
855-241-HELP (4357) or e

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