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Eastern Iowa man adapts volunteerism amid pandemic

Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 5:15 AM CST
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WATERLOO, Iowa (KCRG) - When the pandemic hit Jay Nardini and his wife, Candy, would visit her father at his care facility, but not seeing him in person took a toll.

“He was not doing well, so we made the decision on April 3rd to take him out of the facility and bring him home with us,” Jay Nardini said.

They’d give Herb Kane haircuts, soak up the sunshine from their Cedar Falls deck, and sleep near him, so they could help him at all hours. He lived with them until his death in June.

“We look back on that and feel like he did not have to be alone, he did not die alone,” Jay said.

Ensuring others know they aren’t alone is part of the Nardini couple’s work as servants in their community.

Jay’s volunteerism ranges being a board trustee at Northeast Iowa Community College to being a bell ringer for the Salvation Army.

And if he hears of a need, he galvanizes a response. Like when his Bible study learned a high school student was out of options for finishing his degree.

“He had basically no place to live, so he was going from household to household sleeping on a couch,” Jay said.

Jay and his Bible study men’s group took turns driving the student to the Waterloo Career Center culinary program, and gave him money for lunch.

“And we just tried to pour into him a little bit older wisdom, maybe a few bucks for lunch, and let him know that there are people out there who care and that if he stayed on the right path he’d be able to be a success in life,” Jay said.

Jay also worked to get boxes of supplies to the Hope Lodge in Iowa City. Supporting those with cancer is a longtime calling for the couple, having been part of Relay for Life for decades.

“Would have been a great year to set back, and I saw him figure out how to do Zoom meetings stay connected with the board that he’s on and the men’s group at church and even volunteer in the midst of Covid at the food bank,” Jay’s wife Candy Nardini said.

Jay Nardini didn’t always have a lot of spare time, with raising a family and working as an attorney. But doing what he could to show up for others is something that started with his mom.

“She instilled that in me and my wife is one of the most caring, giving people that you’ll ever meet, and I just tagged along with her and just kind of brought that part of my DNA out,” Jay said.

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