9 Who Care: Jay Nardini’s volunteerism not slowed by pandemic

KCRG-TV9's Beth Malicki profiles one of our 9 Who Care recipients, Jay Nardini.
Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 9:35 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, 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 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 Hawkeye Community College to being a bell ringer for the Salvation Army. And if the Nardinis hear 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.

Special “Back the Bus” boxes in grocery stores in the Cedar Valley are courtesy of Jay’s effort to get 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. Even with all the changes and barriers with the pandemic didn’t slow Jay’s volunteerism.

“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,” Candy Nardini said.

Jay 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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