An August Send-Off, A Summer Celebration: Staff Emmie at the JonnyCake Center

By Sara Porcaro | September 3, 2019

On a cool August evening in Wakefield, in the upstairs pub of Mew's Tavern, a small crowd of party-goers filled their plates with fresh chicken wings and pizza. People laughed and chattered together about their recent activities and their plans for the coming autumn--especially the plans of one particular guest, for which the whole evening centers around. That person is one of the staff of the JonnyCake Center (JCC) of Peace Dale, Emmie, who after Labor Day has shipped up to Maine to start her college adventure--and Cheryl, Paula, and all the other JonnyCake staff and volunteers gave her a great send-off!

The JonnyCake Center is a local non-profit organization that aims to help provide the needs of their community--be it through fundraising, donations of clothes and food, or other social initiatives, like an upcoming donation of backpacks to local schoolchildren in need. They also provide community service hours for those looking to fill service requirements for school organizations and other projects. Their store holds all manners of items, from clothing and shoes to dishware and furniture, and is managed by a friendly team of staff and around thirty volunteers--all of which are crucial for the success of the store.

"The JCC does a phenomenal job supporting the community," says Perspectives Activities Supervisor Joni Lonczak. "They're great at getting everyone involved, too, be it staff or volunteer."

Since Emmie's junior year of high school, she's been working at her local JCC thrift shop in Peace Dale, both ensuring the space stays clean and stocked with donations for patrons and teaching incoming staff and volunteers the many routines necessary to keep the store running smoothly. She started her job simply looking for a part-time position to earn money while in school--but what she found there was more than a job. It was a warm, welcoming community that quickly absorbed her into the JCC family.

"I didn't know much about [the JCC] before I started," Emmie says, "but I really love working there, and I'm thankful for all the great relationships I've made."

Part of that family were Cheryl and Paula. They're part the Wednesday morning crew, and they learned much of their volunteering routines from Emmie--so much so, that Paula gained not only the knowledge of the work, but the confidence to do it completely independently. They look forward to their Wednesday mornings at the JCC, and while they're happy for Emmie as she goes off to the next phase of her life--bringing along a card to give her at the party--the send-off was rather bittersweet, too: Emmie and her positive attitude were one of the many parts of the JCC they came to love.

"She's an easy-going, sweet girl," Paula says. "Emmie's always smiling and helping everyone out."

Alongside Paula, Cheryl notes, "I'm going to miss Emmie. I really liked working with her."

As more of the guests of the party arrived, Executive Director Kate Brewster called everyone together to hear a speech by another JCC member, Richard, whose expertise in the value of antique items has been a huge asset in assessing the many donations that come to the thrift shop. The party was his idea as thanks for all her hard work, as since his coming to the JCC around a year ago, he, Emmie, and the other staff have all bonded over the JCC's cause.

"Emmie is a mature, intelligent person that is so kind to everyone she meets," Richard said in his speech. "We're going to miss having her here."

Where one door closes, another opens! Emmie spent the evening surrounded by her coworkers and friends, celebrating her success as she takes her next steps. With Labor Day come and gone, she's ready for the fall semester at her college in Maine, and Paula, Cheryl, and the rest of the JCC staff and volunteers give her their well wishes as they, too, prepare their initiatives for the back-to-school season.