Millburn resident Sue Zimmer has taken on many mantles in
her lifetime: Executive Director of the longtime Community Day Nursery of
East Orange (founded in 1895); chronicler and partner of former professor
emeritus of Social Work at Rutgers University William Neal Brown; mother;
friend - and now ardent booster for New Eyes for the Needy.
Ms. Zimmer came to New Eyes in 2009. "After Neal passed away, I was looking
to give my time to a worthwhile cause. At Community Day Nursery, the
children are low-income and we referred them to New Eyes for eyeglasses,"
explained Zimmer. "I know how important it is for young children to be able
to see; otherwise they lose out in their long-term development. I knew New
Eyes was in Short Hills so I decided to stop by and see what I could do for
Zimmer is now a regular volunteer at New Eyes handling the large-donation
acknowledgements. "Every package that comes into New Eyes gets an
acknowledgment thanking the sender - and there are thousands of packages
each and every year," said Zimmer. "I am always in awe of how efficient and
well-run this organization is! The part-time staff does an incredible job
getting new glasses to the poor here in the United States and used glasses
to the poor all over the world. I just love volunteering here."
But Zimmer does have one criticism of the non-profit. "The office furniture
is literally falling apart!"
"Well, our desks and chairs are quite old," admitted Jean Gajano, Community
Relations Coordinator for New Eyes. "Some desk drawers are broken or missing
altogether and the veneer has been stripped off the edging" - though the
judicious use of scotch tape has reattached it where possible. Neatly
stacked papers and binders sit in the open due to lack of storage cabinets.
Many volunteers do their work on cart tables and metal folding chairs.
When asked how long it has been since a building renovation, Gajano
chuckled. "New Eyes bought this building in the early 1960s and at the time
reconfigured the existing floor plan to fit its need while also adding an
addition. Not much has changed since then." Indeed, the sorting room table
is the original one where volunteers sort used glasses and the linoleum
floor is worn through in spots from volunteers pulling and pushing their
chairs up to the table. "And the floor covering in the upstairs office is
old, stained and gapping," added Zimmer.
"We value the many hours our volunteers spend in our building" said Gajano,
"and we would love to provide them with a better environment to carry out
our vision of bringing vision to the U.S. and the world. But our budget
just cannot afford the expense."
And that's where Sue Zimmer comes in. "New Eyes is a Short Hills/ Millburn
legacy and I am asking local residents and businesses to join in my mission
to replace the office furniture and floor coverings for this great
organization. I am happy to talk with anyone interested in helping this
enduring New Jersey institution." All inquiries should be directed to Sue
Zimmer at New Eyes for the Needy at 973-376-4908.