TASK reflects on the contributions of one of our most dedicated advocates
“She was most proud of her children. Second, her grandchildren. Third, TASK.”
That’s how Ernie Curran remembers his late wife, Jan, who passed away unexpectedly last August. “I don’t even know if her husband made the list,” he says, laughing.
Jan was born in Dunkirk, NY, on August 9, 1940. She passed away exactly 82 years later near her home in Ewing, NJ, on August 9, 2022. In between those two dates, Jan lived a full life devoted to many important causes: she was a beloved wife, mother and grandmother; a teacher; a player of tennis, golf and Bridge; a member of the St. James Church in Pennington; and, importantly, someone committed to helping others however she could.
“Her career was giving back,” says her son, Matt, one of her four children including daughters Benita, Beth and Christa. “She was a great captain; she had the ability to lead even without a title. It was just her nature to take control of things and lead them toward where they needed to be.”
Jan volunteered at TASK in the dining room, serving meals and helping to manage the pantry — affectionately called “Jan’s Pantry” by staff. She also worked directly with patrons. Jan was an important advocate for TASK, serving as a member of the Board of Directors and various committees. She received TASK’s Volunteer of the Year Award in 2002. In 2014, she received the TASK Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Geltzer Family Foundation.
“Jan gave of herself to TASK for over 30 years and wore many hats, although I think she only really ever had one apron,” recalls TASK CEO Joyce Campbell, fondly.
“I knew to listen when she spoke. Always humble, always caring and always here… that was TASK’s Jan.”
Adds Paul Jensen, TASK’s Chief Operating Officer, “Jan was like a team mom to the kitchen. She looked out for our patrons, too, always making sure they had something sweet. She even developed a relationship with a local ice cream company to bring in large tubs of ice cream to scoop for patrons on hot summer days.”
Her influence extended well beyond TASK, to her family and friends. Matt, with friends Craig Vachris and Brian Barry, helped establish an annual neighborhood Turkey Trot to benefit TASK. Over the past eight years, the event has grown significantly. These days, nearly 75-80 people show up, and participants have raised almost $40,000 to help TASK. “This little 5K has turned into my mom’s memorial race now,” says Matt.
Matt says his mom shared her love of TASK with the entire family. “She brought all of her four kids and eight grandchildren to TASK many, many times. It was one of her ways of bonding, and she brought her grandchildren together this way.”
He adds, “She always found a way to make everyone feel comfortable, respected, and special. She made everyone know they were the most important person to her.”
Up until her last days, Jan was a constant presence. Jan’s absence from TASK has been profound.
“We miss her,” says Campbell. “We are just so fortunate that in her lifetime, Jan also inspired so many future generations of volunteers who will continue to build on her amazing legacy. For that we are eternally grateful.”
Tag: Advocacy - supporter spotlight - TASK - Trenton Area Soup Kitchen - Volunteering - volunteers - Date Posted: Aug 1, 2023 - Author: Trenton Soup Kitchen