​Giving back is what motivated Kay O’Connell to begin helping out at the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation’s Northern Regional Center.  Kay, 89 years young, wears many hats; wife, mom of 4, grandmother of 9, teacher and ECF volunteer for the past 31 years.   

Kay’s service to ECF began in 1988, when she read an article in the local paper about a need for volunteers to help with packing and delivering snacks to families who had children with cancer.  It was Thanksgiving time and Kay felt an overwhelming need to help. “I thought to myself, these families need our help….I can lend a hand.”

Early on, Kay would help pack the snacks in the garage of an ECF employee, where the ECF Pantry used to be housed, and then deliver the treats to the families.  “A 4 year old little girl with leukemia, her mother had quit her job to stay home to take care of her daughter,” Kay remembered.  “I delivered groceries to them weekly. I did not see the little girl a lot.  But one day we visited and she had fuzz on her head and she was dancing around the house.  Wonderful.  And she loved Rice Krispies so I would save them for her as soon as they came in to the pantry.”

It is this attention to detail, this thoughtfulness and loyalty, that drives Kay to show up every Tuesday at ECF to manage the pantry and ensure that families receive the food, toys, and other essentials they need.  The only time she missed work was when she lost her husband of 40 years, Robert. (Currently, her in-person volunteering is curtailed due to Covid-19 restrictions).

Kay will be honored at ECF’s Annual Charity Bash this year for her unwavering commitment to the families. “Over the years volunteering for ECF I’ve worked with many dedicated people,” she said. “We learned how to keep the chipmunks out of the rice when we worked from a garage, and when we were housed in an old bowling alley we adapted to the creaky, cage type elevator that gave us a thrilling and jerky ride every trip. We’ve come a long way since then, and I’m happy to be part of this dedicated and focused group.”

Additional Newsletter Articles

ECF Families Treated to Delicious Restaurant Meals!

ECF Families Treated to Delicious Restaurant Meals!

In May, the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office (BCPO) and Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association 221 (PBA) delivered fresh, hot meals from Caffe Anello in Westwood to some of our local ECF families! Chef Johnny from Caffe Anello and the PBA (both pictured here preparing...

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Delight’s Journey

Delight’s Journey

The word “delight” means happiness, joy. Thirteen-year-old Delight lives up to her name, finding happiness and joy despite the challenges of her cancer journey. Delight was diagnosed with leukemia at age nine, two years after her family’s move to NJ from abroad....

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Nicole is Doing Great!

Nicole is Doing Great!

​We love success stories, and Nicole is one of them. She is a healthy 18 year old who is about to graduate from high school. But 15 years ago, Nicole wasn’t so healthy. She was diagnosed at age three with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and had to endure grueling chemo...

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Leslie is Our Hero

Leslie is Our Hero

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” –Christopher Reeve Little Leslie is as beautiful as she is brave, enduring so much more than a 19 month old should while remaining joyful and smiling....

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TJ: Just a Kid

TJ: Just a Kid

Thirteen-year-old TJ is not especially anxious about the Corona virus pandemic. Unfortunately, isolation, fear and uncertainty aren’t new to him. Since his diagnosis of leukemia four years ago, TJ spent a lot of time quarantined from the outside world in the hospital...

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Where to Find Us


77 Brant Ave.
Suite 304
Clark, NJ 07066
(908) 322-4323
Fax: (732) 943-7529

Joann Passantino
Executive Director, ext. 16

Victoria Shestack Aronoff
Development Director, ext. 15

Trish Picone
Accountant, ext. 12

Gloria Pocchio
Office Manager, ext. 10

Central Regional Center

77 Brant Ave.
Suite 304
Clark, NJ 07066
(908) 322-4323 x17

Barbara Kopel
Sr. Central Regional Director

Southern Regional Center

451 Beech Ave.
Woodbury Heights, NJ 08097
(856) 853-4803

Mary Ann Sullivan 
Southern Regional Director

Eastern Regional Center

1710 Highway 71
Suite 2
Wall, NJ 07719
(732) 282-2324

Rosemarie Contreras
Eastern Regional Director

Northern Regional Center

174 Paterson Ave.
PO Box 212
Midland Park, NJ 07432
(201) 612-8118

Inessa Rome
Northern Regional Director



The Emmanuel Cancer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. All donations to the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation are tax-exempt to the extent allowed by law. Tax ID #22-2459774