HACKENSACK, N.J. – When national employment advocate John Fugazzie learned more than 20 officers with the Bergen County Police Services were being laid off in Hackensack last month, he started to do what he does best – network.
Six years ago, Fugazzie founded the job search and networking organization Neighbors-helping-Neighbors-USA out of his River Edge home. The group holds volunteer-lead meetings at libraries and university campuses to coach job seekers, and has helped about 660 people find gainful employment.
In late June, just days after the former Bergen County Police officers received their layoff notices, and turned in their guns and badges, Fugazzie created an online networking initiative to help them.
The Facebook group “NhN Blue Line to Employment” now has more than 130 members, including some of the laid-off officers, many of whom are veterans, their spouses, and people who may be able to help them find new work.
“Our goal is to get as many community people as we can to help look for jobs, and funnel them into this group or funnel them to me, so we can share them with the officers who need work,” Fugazzie told Daily Voice.
“We are really trying to set up a rapid reemployment concept here,” the former Ho Ho Kus resident said.
Fugazzie has also offered free job search coaching to those affected.
Maura DeNicola, a longtime Neighbors-helping-Neighbors board member, and former Bergen County freeholder and Franklin Lakes mayor, is assisting Fugazzie in the effort.
“It is so important to support these officers, many of whom have families and babies, mortgages, have served their country, and are professionals … I think any agency that would have the benefit of their service would be at an advantage,” DeNicola said.
Fugazzie and DeNicola encourage anyone who is aware of potential jobs for the officers – in both the public and private sectors -- to reach out to them.
“In the world we are living in today, it is hard to imagine that there aren’t tons of opportunities for well-trained police officers,” Fugazzie said.
People wishing to help can reach Fugazzie at firstname.lastname@example.org or DeNicola at Maura.email@example.com.
For more information on Neighbors helping Neighbors, visit www.nhnusa.org.
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