How South Jersey chamber made traditional Day of Service into regionwide effort

This great day was a long time coming.

In 2020, when the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey saw its first leadership change in 25 years, one of the organization’s new priorities was assuring it was giving back to the community. That came with a shift in its mission, vision, strategic priorities and a renewed focus on recruiting nonprofits and other community-based organizations to its membership base.

Another aspect of this new direction was adding programming to the chamber’s already packed slate of more than 120 events per year that encouraged its more than 1,200 member companies to give back and support local nonprofits.

We all know what happened next. Shortly after brainstorming what a chamberwide community service event would look like, the pandemic hit and all plans were stalled.

Earlier this year, the chamber’s 2020 vision was finally revisited. Earlier this week, the first official “CCSNJ Day of Service” took place across South Jersey. Nine South Jersey-based nonprofits created service projects, including one virtual, for nearly 100 chamber members to volunteer at and spend the day giving back to their community.

The event was very well received.

“We’ve had this vision for so long, and to see it come together so successfully is incredibly rewarding,” Meredith Lorrilliere, executive vice president of the chamber, said.

“As a chamber of commerce, we are not serving our members effectively if we aren’t identifying ways to highlight the amazing nonprofit organizations across South Jersey and encouraging our for-profit members to take time to give back. The call to action was embraced enthusiastically and it made for a fulfilling and fun day for all involved.”

Nonprofits tend to struggle finding volunteers for all the important work they are doing in the community. That’s why chamber officials said the group wanted to step in and try to help.

Kate King, volunteer & outreach coordinator at LUCY Outreach in Camden, was grateful.

“Since the completion of our dream building in November 2022, our small but mighty staff struggles to keep up with various projects while coordinating programming for the youth,” she said. “Volunteer engagement is crucial to staff support. We appreciate these types of collaboration with the chamber to best serve the local youth, families and community.”

The CCSNJ Day of Service was sponsored by major corporate players in the region, such as Delta Dental, Fulton Bank, Holman and South Jersey Gas — all of which sent representatives to participate in the various service projects. And the service projects were wide-ranging by design, so there was something for everyone in the chamber membership to pick from based on their interest level or location.

Stuart Brereton, chief sales officer for Delta Dental of New Jersey and Connecticut, and a sponsor of the Day of Service, wrapped it up this way.

“The Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey always creates engaging and effective programs; this event underscores the organization’s commitment to continuously providing value to its members and the community,” he said.

The day was such a success that chamber officials said they already are looking ahead to the next Day of Service.

“To see so many chamber members be engaged, to watch our internal chamber team embrace the day and have so much fun giving back and to see the smiles on the faces of our nonprofit partners — what more could we ask for?” Lorrilliere said.  “We’re excited to make this a chamber tradition and start planning our next Day of Service soon.”

Nonprofit organizations that participated and provided service projects for the CCSNJ Day of Service:

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