Norman Clarke volunteers with Liverpool-based nonprofit Operation Northern Comfort to clean up a property on Foster Road along the Seneca River in Clay. The organization provides labor, donations and support to anyone in need throughout Central New York.
continued Both Andrzejewski and Vanderwerken were interested in doing more than just occasional local projects. They knew Chadwick Residence — a nonprofit group home that provides long-term housing, services and support for homeless women and their children — was always looking for volunteers to help with various jobs, and there were numerous other organizations, apartment buildings and individuals in and around Central New York who needed help. Andrzejewski had already started Operation Northern Comfort as a small, locally-based organization dedicated to doing small jobs; it kicked off local activities during Acts of Kindness Weekend (Sept. 10 and 11). However, he had his hands full with Operation Southern Comfort, and he was looking for someone else to take the reins of the new group.
“Norm kind of asked me to take the ball and roll with it, and just kind of make this into something that’ll last instead of just doing a project,” Vanderwerken said. “He introduced me to Murph, and we’ve kind of been pushing forward with getting a steering committee together and pushing for more projects and making sure that it doesn’t stop.”
Murphy had gone with Operation Southern Comfort to the Gulf Coast in January of 2011 and was thinking of signing up for another tour when she saw Operation Northern Comfort’s link on the organization’s web site.
“I told Norm I was interested, and he said, ‘I’m actually looking for someone to head that up. How would you like to do that?’ And I was like, ‘Absolutely,’” Murphy said. “So me, him and Matt met up, and we had a couple of meetings, the three of us, just talking about what our goals were, what we wanted. We kind of got our goals assessed, and then Matt and I would do Skype meetings so that I wouldn’t have to travel up here, and we got a meeting all set up for a steering committee. Norm got us in contact with people in the area that were involved with Southern Comfort that wanted to be more involved on a year-round basis. We had our first meeting, and it just kind of exploded from there.”