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Recycled kitchen includes lesson in generosity
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Recycled kitchen includes lesson in generosity

Local designer answers request by NJ Y camp; ‘I’m happy to help’

Staff Writer, New Jersey Jewish News

Kitchen cabinets newly installed at New Jersey Y Camps will contain gluten-free food — and a lesson in generosity.

The cabinetry is the gift of Bob Gockeler, a local kitchen designer and general contractor. He answered a random call put out by Ellen Goldner, the camp’s development director, for a donation. Within 12 hours of stumbling upon her request, Gockeler responded.

“He said he had two kitchens in great condition from homes where the people just wanted a change,” said Goldner, who couldn’t believe her luck.

Gockeler said he was happy to help. “Nobody wants to see their stuff in landfills. Sometimes it goes into the garage for extra storage. I usually try to find a neighbor who might want it, or my installers take it home. The amount of extra effort involved is this much,” he said, holding up his hands to show a tiny amount. “It’s not a monumental effort to help out,” he said.

Gockeler, who has a showroom in Chatham, Kitchen Intuitions, and a business in Florham Park, KraftMaster Renovations, rolled up to the camp in Milford, Pa., in an 18-foot truck filled with cabinetry a few weeks ago.

He said when he arrived he found that Goldner had arranged for volunteers to help unload the cabinets, but they were “just three kids.”

“They had no idea what they were in for,” Gockeler said. “When I opened the truck, it was filled top to bottom with cabinetry.” That day, he delivered a pre-built island, a sink, plenty of cabinets, and a vanity that came from a bathroom that was also being redone.

“I get all kinds of oddball requests and I’m more than happy to help,” Gockeler told NJJN in his Chatham showroom. He’s donated pieces to television shows and supports the annual Chatham House Tour.

“If it’s something helpful for the community, why not?” He added, “I’ve wanted to participate in Habitat for Humanity for a long time but I find I can never find the time. I’m so busy with work, and that’s a good thing.”

Once at the camp, Gockeler said, he was amazed at the grounds. “It kept going and going,” he said. And, he added, he’s thrilled to keep helping. Goldner has already given him a second shopping list that he said he is eager to fulfill.

Back in the showroom, ensuring that his daughter was listening, he articulated his own philosophy about doing good deeds.

“I believe you get what you give. You don’t do anything for that reason, though. You do it because it just makes you feel good, like a better person. When you give you have to expect nothing in return. The best deed is the one no one knows you did. It’s selfish when you want recognition. If you want to make someone’s day, leave them flowers but never tell them they were from you. Do it to make their day. That’s selfless.”

“He’s really a mensch,” said Goldner. Even though he’s not Jewish, she said, he “just wanted to do something good” for the Jewish camp.

“I am just so touched that there are such nice people in the world.”

The cabinets and kitchen area will be used for gluten-free cooking workshops for campers.

NJ Y camps, including Nah-Jee-Wah, Cedar Lake, and Round Lake, began for the season on June 26.

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