Irv Singer, of Margate, has become so much a part of The Arc of Atlantic County that when he talks about the group he uses the pronoun "we."
"We are a store," he said of the Arc Makes Cents, Too Thrift Shop he manages at the Tilton Plaza Shopping Center in Northfield. "But we are also trying to educate people about The Arc and what we do."
Singer's efforts on behalf of the non-profit agency that offers services to adults with developmental disabilities has earned him the group's MonArc Citizenship Award this year. He will be honored at the MonArc Awards dinner at the Carriage House in Galloway Township at 6 p.m. March 12. Arc client Annie Damiano, of Galloway Township, and business I. Rice and Company, of Philadelphia, will also be honored.
Singer, 72, started volunteering with the group about six years ago when he was looking for a way to give back to the community. A avid golfer, he worked part-time at a golf course where Arc residents came to golf, and decided that was a good fit.
He started a golf tournament five years ago with the goal of raising $10,000. It raised double that amount the first year and last year raised $56,000, for a total of more than $250,000 so far.
"It was so much more than anyone expected," he said. "Grants are so restricted now, so fundraising dollars are even more important."
When the idea for a second thrift store came up, he was asked to use his retail skills to help get it started. He never left, and now manages the Northfield store. The group also has a thrift shop at 6409 Ventnor Ave., Ventnor.
"I got selfish about it," Singer said. "I really like doing it, I saw a lot of potential and I believe in the cause."
The 5,000 square-foot store is set up like a department store, with furniture and housewares in the back and clothing organized by department. Singer has been able to get some new clothing and currently has a large supply of Champion sweatshirts and pants which sell for about $5.
Poster-sized photos of Arc clients decorate the walls and Arc clients work in the store to get job training. Volunteers help sort and sell.
"We want it to look like a nice store," Singer said. "This is a thrift shop that does a lot of things."
Volunteer Diane Scibal, of Northfield, has a brother with Down Syndrome and said she loves working with Arc clients at the store.
"When I saw what they were doing here, it was just perfect," she said.
Mark Kirwan, of Somers Point, has come in once a week for three years to help with maintenance.
"I just like the people here," he said.
While Singer has made the transition from volunteer to store manager, he said he doesn't view his work there as a job.
"I have a lot of fun and I use my skills," he said. "I get a lot of satisfaction here."
Contact Diane D'Amico:
If you go
The Arc of Atlantic County MonArc Awards dinner, 6 p.m. March 12 at the Carriage House in Galloway Township. Tickets at $100. Contact Patrick Manion at
609-485-0800 ext. 135 or email