Holiday Time Will Be Busy for Interfaith

New Director Was Assistant Director
Nov 14, 2018
Supplied Photo Kathleen Cheeseman (left), new Director of Interfaith with Janice Schalek, retiring Director.

Around the holidays, people in need who are elderly and disabled require more support services than at some other times of the year. Kathleen Cheeseman, the new director of Interfaith Health and Support Services of Southern Ocean County, is experienced with the organization.

Cheeseman, the previous assistant director, is taking over for Janice Schalek, who is retiring to spend more time with her family.

The nonprofit Interfaith is a coalition of faith-based communities, social service agencies and healthcare organizations. Its volunteers provide services to those living at home who are in need due to age and/or disability.

Volunteers give respite care to relieve primary caregivers for clients suffering from all diagnosed dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease. Services also include medical transportation, grocery shopping and friendly visits.

The holidays are a sensitive time for many. Interfaith’s 322 volunteers are prepared.

“Our clients request more visiting/companionship during the holidays,” noted Cheeseman. “The request for doing grocery shopping also increases.

“Interfaith also networks with other social service agencies for services that we do not directly provide, such as transportation to haircut appointments and transportation to family events.”

Interfaith’ s service area runs from south of Lacey Road in Forked River to Little Egg Harbor Township in Southern Ocean County. In this year alone, 464 seniors have received care; of those, 142 care-receivers were new.

Volunteers who want to give back to their communities are welcome. Training and orientation seminars are held periodically.

Tax-deductible contributions are welcome at any time from individuals, organizations, businesses and foundations. Interfaith is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Two Years of Growth

To Be Continued

Cheeseman became assistant director in February 2018 and made significant contributions immediately as she had served as a transport volunteer, a food shopper and an office assistant.

“Her understanding of the mission and enthusiasm for the work of Interfaith made Kathi the perfect choice for director,” said the press announcement.

She is an active member of St. Mary’s Parish, where she is a Eucharist minister and the driver of the church van for seniors on Sundays. She also volunteers for Hackensack Meridian At Home Hospice.

Cheeseman retired after 25 years in the audiovisual department at Southern Regional Middle School. For 18 of those years, she also served on the executive board of the Southern Regional Education Association – in every elected position, including president. She also coached youth soccer and became an NJSIAA soccer official.

“I am very excited about my new role on the Interfaith Health and Support Services team,” she said. “I look forward to continuing its legacy of compassion and support for our communities. I am humbled to have the opportunity to work together with IHSS’ great volunteers, board members and coalition members for the mission of hope.”

She and her husband, Kevin, live in Barnegat and have two sons who work in the family plumbing and heating business, Cheeseman Plumbing.

At her retirement party, past Director Schalek said, “I am certain that Kathi will continue to grow ‘our’ organization and help keep seniors in their homes, living independently.”

In her two years with Interfaith, Schalek recruited and trained over 70 new volunteers and met with more than 40 community organizations to share information about Interfaith.Together with a dedicated team of volunteers, she increased the annual fundraising for Interfaith.

Schalek also reached out to the adult communities to create a senior advisory committee that has been a source of volunteers and a bridge to better communication of Interfaith’s services, representatives said.

“She has brought in guest speakers to enrich volunteers’ understanding of the challenges seniors face and knowledge of the extensive services available for seniors and the frailest in Southern Ocean County,” added a press announcement of the change of leadership.

Interfaith Health and Support Services is located at 1140 Route 72 West in Manahawkin and can be contacted at 609-978-3839 or on the website interfaithsoc.org, where more information can be found.  —M.S.

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