Children’s Aid and Family Services Celebrates its Volunteers

 (Paramus, NJ) June 7, 2019 – Children’s Aid and Family Services recently honored several of its volunteers for their dedication to helping the children and families that the agency serves. The honorees include:

Eileen Negrycz of Ridgewood, NJ, has been a volunteer at The Depot Gift Store in Midland Park, NJ since 2009. She helps coordinate publicity and marketing efforts for the gift shop, which is the largest all-volunteer exchange in the United States. All proceeds from the store benefit Children’s Aid and Family Services, and since its founding in 1965, The Depot has donated more than $3 million to the agency.

Volunteers from Baby Basics in Ridgewood – A program of Children’s Aid and Family Services, Baby Basics provides free diapers, wipes and formula to low-income families living or working in Bergen County. The program was founded nearly 25 years ago by volunteers at Westside Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood and became a program of Children’s Aid and Family Services in 2005. Since its founding, the program has expanded to five locationsGarfield, Hackensack, Ridgewood, Carlstadt and Paramus — and has distributed more than 1.5 million diapers. Several of the volunteers in Ridgewood have been with the program since its inception.

Raphaella Lekkas of Paramus, NJ, who attends Children’s Aid and Family Services’ STRIVE day program for individuals with disabilities. Raphaella, who is 27 years old, is an enthusiastic and active volunteer. She alphabetizes and restocks books at the Fair Lawn Library and also shares her talents at the Turtleback and Bergen County Zoos, where she helps prepare arts and crafts for field trips. Additionally, Raphaella volunteers at Humdingers, Petsmart and Secaucus Animal Shelter.

Yvelisse Gonzalez of Denville, NJ, has been volunteering at Zoe’s Place, a program of Children’s Aid and Family Services that provides supportive housing to teenage mothers and their babies. In 2018 she created the “Teen Mom Support Group” which helps current and former residents of Zoe’s Place. Teenage mothers face unique challenges and are especially in need of the friendship and camaraderie of other young moms. Yvelisse created a group for the women to feel safe to share their concerns and joys about motherhood. She has become a trusted mentor to the young women at Zoe’s Place.

Sgt. Richard Pizzuti is a resident of Lyndhurst and a member of its police department. He also serves on the municipal alliance and the Board of Education. Sgt. Pizzuti has been a volunteer with The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources, a program of Children’s Aid and Family Services. Sgt. Pizzuti helped The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources establish a presence in Lyndhurst so it could offer programs that serve senior citizens and families. Sgt. Pizzuit also assists in recruiting residents to attend these programs.

Ernst & Young is one of the largest groups that have been volunteering and supporting Children’s Aid and Family Services for the past 10 years. Every spring, a large group of employees spends the day painting some of the agency’s group homes that serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The employees also generously donate diapers and other essentials to the agency’s Baby Basics program as well as school supplies for children in foster care.

Gabriella Raia of Upper Saddle River, NJ is a senior at Immaculate Heart Academy in Township of Washington, NJ. Gabriella is a member of CARE, a network of service groups that addresses a wide variety of needs in the surrounding communities. In the past two years, Gabriella has organized countless drives of diapers and other essentials for the agency’s Baby Basics program, school supplies, Easter baskets and gift cards for children in the agency’s therapeutic foster care.

About Children’s Aid and Family Services

Children’s Aid and Family Services is a leading nonprofit human services organization serving northern New Jersey. The agency is fully accredited and has served the community for 120 years. Its mission is to strengthen families and empower individuals – children and adults alike – to reach their fullest potential. Motivated by compassion and in partnership with the community, we make positive lasting differences in the lives of those we serve. We provide high-quality, innovative services to children, adults, and their families that advance social, educational and emotional development and wellbeing. For more information on Children’s Aid and Family Services, call 201.261.2800 or visit