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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

This is Dan Meredith, RPL Foundation Gala Honoree

Updated: Mar 21

By Jennifer Ersalesi

Dan and Kristin Meredith

Each year, the Rutherford Public Library Foundation, a non-profit 501c3, holds a Gala to help expand the services of the Rutherford Public Library. The Board of the Foundation chooses one individual to be named as the Gala Honoree. This year the honoree is Dan Meredith, Rutherford resident, business owner, Chamber of Commerce President, and a true philanthropist. This is Rutherford interviewed Dan Meredith to learn more about his amazing efforts to support the community he holds close to his heart.


TIR: You grew up in Rutherford and graduated from Rutherford High School.  After living away from Rutherford for a while, you returned to your hometown and opened a business here.  What makes the community of Rutherford so important to you?


Dan Meredith: I will always call Rutherford home, even when living away from town. Everything I am is because of growing up on Mountain Way, where my parents still live today. Coming from a very large family, I had relatives literally in every corner of town, many of whom still live here too. Our neighborhood was a big network of friends and families, all looking out for each other, very much like it is today. We thought nothing of walking clear across town and we knew someone on almost every street. That aspect of Rutherford in my eyes has not changed a bit and now that my wife Kristin and I own a home and a business here, I find myself at 51 years old still feeling just as comfortable and safe as I did growing up here. The network of friends, family, and neighborly support for each other is still alive and well in Rutherford.  Rutherford is a unique and beautiful place, and I will always have it in my heart no matter where I go.

Gloria and Ron Darby, Cliff Witmyer, Santa, and Dan Meredith at the 2022 Holiday Parade

"Dan is the epitome of hard work and grit. He dedicates so much time to the betterment of our community. and we are all lucky to have him as our President. He is an absolute treasure and I'm proud to call him my friend," Chamber Director Jessi Davidson told TIR.


TIR: Not only are you a business owner and resident but you are also involved in many different organizations that work toward making the lives of others better.  Let’s start with all of the work that you do with the Center for Hope and Safety.  Can you tell us how you got involved and about the many ways you have supported and participated in CFHS efforts to help victims of domestic violence?


DM: Center for Hope and Safety is a nonprofit organization that exists solely to protect, guide, educate, house, and help restore the lives of families and individuals affected by domestic violence in Bergen County. Almost 8 years ago, our agency signed up for an event about domestic violence awareness. To us at that time it was just another good cause to get behind, and a way to get out as an agency in public. We ended up with a table right next to Jean Kirch, who, at the time, was the Director of Development at the Center for Hope and Safety. After spending the day with Jean and learning why she was at this event, it became apparent to us that we knew nothing about domestic violence and the many different types of abuse. From that day forward we made it a mission to help this organization spread awareness in southern Bergen County by helping in any way we can and at all times of the year, with clothing and supply drives, fundraisers, and volunteering to help organize major events, such as the past two Sip For Safety fundraisers (Wine Tastings at the Williams Center).

As the relationship grew, we were able to get the support of the Allstate Foundation. I was invited to fly to Chicago to learn the Allstate Foundation Domestic Violence Financial Literacy Curriculum, and to learn the signs of domestic violence and how to advocate for someone in need of help. This relationship between the Allstate Foundation, our agency, and the Center for Hope and Safety has led to over $100,000 of Helping Hands Grants that have gone directly to aiding the Center for Hope and Safety’s mission to selflessly volunteer to keep an open door 24/7, 365 days a year to those affected by domestic violence.


For one of the main fundraisers for the Center, the Walk Together Against Domestic Violence, we create a team that participates and supports this event annually. The Walk Together Against Domestic Violence is happening this year on October 26th in Van Saun County Park. More details about this year’s walk are coming soon. If you would like to join us or donate, please contact me at danmeredith3@allstate.com and we will send back details about the Walk and how you can help.


For anyone in Bergen County who needs assistance, please call (201)-944-9600 (24-hour hotline). Visit the CFHS website here. Anyone outside of Bergen County can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800)-799-7233.


"Dan Meredith has redefined the meaning of community. He has successfully brought together the business community with the service sector to make Rutherford one of the best towns in Bergen County. He has truly created the fastest growing group of friends in the area," Chamber Director Reverend Annie Allen, Rutherford Congregational Church explained.


Kristin and Dan Meredith

TIR: As an Allstate Agent, you’ve also had the opportunity to run several different clothing and supply drives through your office.  Can you tell us more about those?


DM: Being an Allstate Agency Owner with a location in our hometown has allowed us to be very connected with our local community. Giving back is something we find to be an essential part of our business. Our location on the corner of Union Ave and Chestnut Street in Rutherford has been the perfect location to help local nonprofit organizations. Annually we hold many supply and clothing drives at our agency that benefit local and regional charities. Most recently we were a drop-off location for Grace's Closet, an annual event presented by Grace Episcopal Church of Rutherford, that collects formal dress wear and accessories for teens who cannot afford the cost of a dress or a suit for the prom or the formal.


Councilwoman Dr. Stephanie McGowan told TIR, "Rarely do we come across such a kind spirit that genuinely cares deeply for this community and finding ways to lift up others. Dan is one of a kind and Rutherford is better because of his passion, dedication, and love for our Borough!"


"For the last few years, I have seen the amount of selfless work Dan has done for our Borough. I am in awe of how much he does daily to keep the Chamber of Commerce moving in a positive, supportive, and inclusive direction. I am so proud of all he has accomplished. I'm honored to be on the Chamber Board with him," said Rutherford Chamber of Commerce Secretary Jennifer Ersalesi.


TIR: Also as an Allstate agent, you’ve been able to provide financial support to many Rutherford organizations, including the Rutherford Public Library through sponsorships and grants.  Tell us more about those sponsorships and grants and how they have assisted community organizations and projects.


DM: We’re proud to sponsor many local events like the Rutherford Summer Concert Series, youth sports programs, such as the Rutherford Little League, Rutherford Girls Softball, the Rutherford Lacrosse Association, and not-for-profit community organizations. Our relationship with the Allstate Foundation also allows us to offer financial assistance in the form of Helping Hands Grants to many local nonprofits and volunteer essential services, such as The Rutherford Community Pantry, The Relay for Life of Clifton, and Rutherford, The Rutherford Volunteer First-Aid Ambulance Corps, Healing Hearts of Rutherford, Center for Hope and Safety, Tomorrows Children Fund, the Rutherford Education Foundation, Project Graduation, the Rutherford Public Library, 55 Kip Center, and many more. Kristin and I own a local small business and many of our clientele are from our immediate local area. As residents and business owners, it’s truly rewarding to give back to our community and support our neighbors who have supported us and our business.


Dan Meredith on the News with John Elliott

Treasurer of the Rutherford Chamber of Commerce, Mike Rizzo, told TIR, "Dan is an all-around great person, who has done so much for the town of Rutherford and the Chamber of Commerce. His generosity and kindness have helped countless people over the years. It is an honor to know him."


Photographed below: Dan Meredith Allstate Agency's grants and sponsorships- Mini Golf hole at Friends of Library Fundraiser, Issuing a check to the Rutherford First-Aid Ambulance Corps, and issuing a check to Tomorrow's Children's Fund.


TIR: In addition to all of the ways you, your wife Kristin, and your company give back to the community, the role you are most “famous” for over the last few years is as the President of the Rutherford Chamber of Commerce.  Over three years ago you began rebuilding the Rutherford Chamber of Commerce. Starting with a little over thirty members in 2019, as of early March 2024 the Chamber has grown to 188 members, including local businesses and non-profit organizations.  How have you supported your community through your work with the Rutherford Chamber of Commerce?

 

DM: The Rutherford Chamber has existed since 1927 and has had much success since that time supporting, promoting, and acting as a catalyst for the success and well-being of its members, and the Rutherford community. The Chamber has had its share of obstacles, but it has always had dedicated leadership who cared enough to keep this important organization alive and ready to move forward. I feel one of the most important factors responsible for the recent resurgence and success of the Chamber is the unity between our members. I believe bringing together businesses, nonprofits, municipalities, and the local and regional community, into a common space of organic support and compromise, has created a stronger and more attractive business community. We sometimes like to refer to the Rutherford Chamber as the fastest-growing circle of friends in the area.


Best of Bergen Gala, 2022

Other towns and regional chambers are looking at Rutherford and admiring the progress that we have made.  It is the efforts of many that have made this ball roll from our membership, the support from the Borough of Rutherford, the community, and the volunteerism of the Chamber Directors, and Officers.  The question, how do I think I’ve supported my community through my work with the Rutherford Chamber of Commerce? I hope it is for having faith that bringing people together for a common cause, can make a big impact that reaches above and beyond any politics or beliefs, and brings out the best in a community, for the better of everyone.


Rutherford Chamber of Commerce Vice-President, Cliff Witmyer, told TIR, "There has never been a harder working president for any chamber I've ever been associated with. Kudos to Dan Meredith."

Rutherford Chamber of Commerce in the St. Patrick's Day Parade, 2024

Chamber 2nd Vice-President, Tom LaTourette, explained, "I first approached Dan about the rutherfordnj.town website before he’d taken any formal role with the Chamber. But he clearly had a vision for community and cooperation and the will to make it happen. It’s been an honor and a privilege working with him to bring his vision of the Rutherford Chamber to reality.”


"Dan is a force of nature. He looks out for his fellow business owners with genuine care and concern that's hard to find these days. Dan is one of my favorite people to work with in Rutherford. His enthusiasm and dependability are unmatched and it is a true joy to work with him," Borough Public Information Officer, Kim Bogosian, told TIR.


Jennifer Ersalesi, Kim Bogosian, Palmer Yale, Dan and Kristin Meredith. The day Dan was told he would be the Gala Honoree.

TIR: You have been named this year’s RPL Gala Honoree for all you have done for our community, including the Rutherford Public Library.  How do you feel about this recognition?

 

DM: I’m so grateful for this honor. It is nothing I could have ever imagined, and I’ve never been recognized in this way before. To be chosen from a very long list of other extremely deserving candidates has really touched my heart, and I feel blessed to be recognized as a community leader. I appreciate everything this organization stands for and its rich history in the Rutherford community. Thank you all so much for this honor.


To purchase tickets for the Rutherford Public Libary which will be held on Saturday, March 23rd at 6:30 pm, click this link or visit the Rutherford Public Libary to purchase tickets in person.



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