Jewish Life
South Jersey

South Jersey’s Jaret Lyons: Getting Involved



Over Thanksgiving weekend in 2020, Double Dels Jaret Lyons, AS96, and Wendi Lyons, BE95, brainstormed how Jaret could help re-invigorate the charitable efforts of his company, Emerald Business, while also setting an example of giving back to the community for their 15-year-old son Brandon. Their idea, “Mission: Possible,” was born and Jaret set out to volunteer with 52 charities in 52 weeks.

Based in the Greater Philadelphia area, Jaret reached out to organizations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware to request volunteer opportunities—one of which was the University of Delaware. While he was open to volunteering at a wide variety of organizations, the majority of nonprofits he connected with served homeless and food insecure populations. They included Mission Philadelphia, Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network, Project HOME, Covenant House Pennsylvania, Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, Meals on Wheels and Philabundance.

By October 2021, Jaret completed the endeavor seven weeks early. In November, he was honored as the First Runner-Up for the Everyday Hero Award presented by ECI Software Solutions.

Here, Jaret answers a few questions about the experience—but it’s not the end of the story for the Lyons family.

What did you learn during this journey?

I first volunteered at Cradles to Crayons (Philadelphia) on Dec. 9, 2020, and I had no idea what I was about to experience. I’ve seen firsthand all the tremendous organizations and people working tirelessly to make our world a better place one day and one person at a time. From hunger, homelessness, poverty and addiction to services for children, teenagers, adults, seniors and animals, I’ve learned how much of a need these organizations have for volunteers.

What was an eye-opening experience that you had during your volunteer work?

One experience that stands out from the rest was my volunteer work for an organization called IMPACT Services. IMPACT is based in the Kensington section of Philadelphia and their mission is to mobilize people and resources to create thriving communities by improving pathways for career development, increasing affordable housing and focusing on community development. I volunteered with IMPACT during “Love Your Park Week” in Philadelphia as part of a group clean up at McPherson Square Park in Kensington. My experience at McPherson was as “real” an experience as it gets as McPherson Square is more commonly referred to as “Needle Park.” Most of my day was spent sweeping and disposing of heroin needles and needle caps. The amount of open space drug abuse happening at McPherson was like nothing I had ever seen before.

At UD, what type of volunteer activity did you participate in?

My wife Wendi and I helped with the Fall Move-In Centralized Check-In. We checked in returning students at the Bob Carpenter Center and got to welcome them back, give them keys to their dorm rooms and provide helpful information as they began the new school year. The students seemed energized and eager. Volunteer opportunities to help with residence hall move-in at the beginning of each semester are posted to UDaily in January and August.

What was it like to come back to UD’s campus to volunteer?

It was so great being back at UD with my wife Wendi as we hadn’t visited for a few years! Wendi got creative and made us T-shirts with our mid-90s student IDs. To say we got a lot of funny looks while on campus is an understatement!

UD will always hold a special place in my heart. The four years I spent on campus allowed me to learn so much about myself and become a huge part of who I am today. I learned from my mistakes (I made plenty of them) and met so many people who are still a part of my life today.

It just felt right being back on campus and we can’t wait to get back again soon. Plus, who knows, maybe our 15-year-old Brandon will be a future Blue Hen!

Do you have plans to continue this endeavor? A Mission Possible: Part 2?

Yep! Stay tuned for the sequel. I am going to take a bit of a breather the rest of this year and will start a new endeavor early 2022.

Credit to: University of Delaware Alumni

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