Our agency is so fortunate to have a community of advocates supporting those we serve. This month's Community Spotlight highlights Family Promise of Morris County volunteer and local homelessness advocate Nick Kumburis.
Family Promise of Morris County volunteer Nick Kumburis has been a champion of those served via Our Promise (OP) Drop-In Resource Center for almost a year.
Nick is a Morris County resident whose place of work happens to be across the street from the First Baptist Church of Morristown, where OP is located.
When he learned about the drop-in center, Nick decided then and there that he needed to get involved in some way. Since then, he has become a regular and beloved presence at OP.
Whether he’s simply listening to their story or offering unique ideas to advocate from a local government and policy viewpoint, it’s clear that Nick thoroughly enjoys connecting with our guests.
It can be a small gesture, but in a world of negativity, positive acts shine through the darkness. In return, I receive a smile in my heart and a host of friends I may never have had the opportunity to meet. - Nick Kumburis, Volunteer
Throughout his time volunteering at OP, Nick has consistently heard of one particular barrier to employment and housing: a lack of ID. Guests often face fines and surcharges, making it difficult to obtain their driver's licenses.
Our team of Licensed Social Workers and Case Managers typically work with our guests to obtain ID’s when necessary. However, in some cases, such as when a fine is involved, a lack of ID can pose a large barrier, making it nearly impossible to become employed or to acquire housing.
Without employment, paying fines and surcharges is also difficult. Keeping this in mind, Nick took it upon himself to advocate for our guests.
Leveraging his connections with local and state government officials, he learned about a handful of programs that offer assistance for community members facing this situation.
“I have spent hours sitting and talking with our guests about housing, jobs, licenses, etc., and sometimes I feel that I am not making progress. They feel it too, so it was good to get a victory for our guests. They deserve it…Hopefully we can continue to partner with our legislators to bring about more positive change for our guests,” Nick reflected.
With his kindhearted and dedicated spirit, he even arranged for one gentlemen's employer to pay his fines. Another visitor owed a large fine that was completely out of their reach. But Nick advocated to get it reduced by over 80% with a suitable payment plan!
Sometimes, even the smallest act of kindness can spark positive change. These are just a few of many stories that exhibit the depth and power of his service toward those we serve.
Nick recently shared his sentiments with Family Promise staff:
“I came from humble beginnings, and I know how hard it can be to get a foothold when the system seems stacked against you. It can be frustrating, infuriating, and downright hopeless. Over the years, there were people in my life that showed me kindness when I was at my lowest.”
“I try to live by the golden rule ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you.’ When I can, I try to give a hand to those who may need it. It can be a small gesture, but in a world of negativity, positive acts shine through the darkness. In return, I receive a smile in my heart and a host of friends I may never have had the opportunity to meet. Lily Tomlin once said, ‘Someone should do something, then I realized I was someone, so I did something.’”
Nick is also a member of Liquid Church Morris County, a local congregation which supports our agency's mission.
Most recently, he accompanied over 40 other church volunteers in hosting a "Free Market" event for Our Promise guests to "shop" for clothing and shoes, enjoy delicious food, and relax among other community members. What a fun and impactful day it was!
Thank you, Nick, for your generosity of time and spirit!
Nick’s story makes one thing clear: our shared vision to end homelessness is best put into action through a community-based response. The power of our Morris County community leaves us hopefully for positive change to come!