Volunteer Coordinator’s Work Is CUMAC’s Anti-Hunger Mission

By: Gabrielle Mills. Follow South Jersey Intern

CUMAC volunteers give a “thumbs-up.” Photo credit: CUMAC Facebook page.

PATERSON, N.J. — Afton Goriscak knows what it’s like to start over — from moving from her home in Sussex to study an hour away in Montclair to finding found her place at Paterson based nonprofit, CUMAC.

The 21-year-old first learned about the organization from an internship list at her alma mater, Montclair State University. From there she interned in CUMAC’s main office, doing everything from social media posts to phone calls all while learning about the nonprofit’s inner workings.

CUMAC Volunteer Coordinator Afton Goriscak. Photo credit: CUMAC Facebook page.

Less than a year out from undergrad, Goriscak landed her Volunteer Coordinator position.

“I shot finger-guns at [the organization’s director] Mark [Dinglasan] and said, ‘you should hire me,’” Goriscak said. “I made it known as an intern that I really wanted to continue doing the work.”

For Goriscak, the work is CUMAC’s anti-hunger mission. CUMAC is a nonprofit with an over 30-year history in the city. The organization works to address the city’s issues with food insecurity and other symptoms of poverty.

Goriscak hails from the small community of Swartswood, N.J. While her sleepy childhood home is a stark contrast from the buzz of her current surroundings, Goriscak feels her time studying family science, human development, and justice studies at Montclair State University allowed her to expand her worldview.

“I really got to branch out with a lot of different communities and cultures that I didn’t at home,” she stated.

As the Volunteer Coordinator of a grassroots nonprofit, her days are filled with the work of building relationships and finding genuine ways to spread CUMAC’s mission to potential partners.

“I like to think I bring positive energy, as VC I smile a lot, I’m always meeting new people.” Goriscak said.

While poverty is a constant issue, regardless of current social and health concerns the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues. She finds that her work at CUMAC is more holistic than it would’ve been elsewhere and helps to provide extra support for families during this time.

“We can connect them with our Benefits Enrollment Center,” she said. “It helps seniors and adults with disabilities fill out government assistance forms, things like SNAP, we’re sitting right down with them, filling out applications.”

Goriscak said that she was looking forward to growing professionally working with nonprofit organizations.

“I feel like I have a lot of room to grow here,” Goriscak said. “I definitely see myself in the nonprofit world. I could honestly still see myself at CUMAC, but I would’ve hoped to grow into a different role.”

Follow South Jersey provides local journalism which highlights our diverse communities; fosters transparency through robust, localized, and vital reporting that holds leaders and institutions accountable; addresses critical information needs; supports people in navigating civic life; and equips people with the information necessary to partake in effective community engagement. If there is a story or event you think we should cover, please send your tips to news@followsouthjersey.com with “NEWS” in the subject line.