Jeannie Sapunarich, a lifelong resident of New Milford, has worn many hats since she started working for ShopRite of New Milford more than 36 years ago. After starting out stocking shelves at night, she has risen through the ranks to front-end supervisor. But throughout her career, one thing has remained the same: She loves her job as part of the Inserra Supermarket family.
“We are a team here in New Milford, supporting our neighbors and taking care of each other. We give out ice pops during the town’s Memorial Day parade, organize Toys for Tots drives, donate Thanksgiving turkeys to the local food bank and adopt families during the holidays – we take helping our neighbors to heart,” said Sapunarich, who started working for Inserra before attending St. John’s University on a basketball scholarship. After she injured her knee and returned home, she was offered a full-time position with Inserra while attending Bergen Community College. And ever since, Sapunarich has been leaving her mark.
She takes pride in her accomplishments at ShopRite of New Milford and in the company’s commitment to community outreach efforts. The opportunity to get involved in local philanthropic efforts is one reason she enjoys going to work everyday. The grocery chain of 22 ShopRite stores supports a variety of local schools, churches, synagogues, athletic programs and service organizations.
“Inserra makes its staff feel needed, wanted and appreciated,” said Sapunarich, who affectionately calls her fellow employees her “kids.” “I have been here so long that I am like a mama bear. I teach, I discipline, I encourage and I protect them.” In fact, many employees jokingly refer to the supermarket as “Jeannie’s store.”
Along with her workplace “family,” Sapunarich shares a common vision and goal to make her community a better place to live and work. During the past year, employees at the New Milford store have been actively supporting the Partners in Caring program. Spearheaded by Wakefern Corporation, ShopRite’s parent company, Partners in Caring is a community-based, hunger-fighting initiative that works with food manufacturers to provide funds to hundreds of charities throughout the communities in which its stores are located.
When it came to getting involved in supporting the ShopRite of New Milford Partners in Caring program, Store Manager Ben Pagano encouraged his team to “think out of the box,” said Sapunarich. Their fund-raising ideas resulted in everything from car washes to pie-throwing contests. In the end, the New Milford store’s employees raised in excess of $10,000 and supplied the local Church of the Ascension food pantry with 10 cart-loads of perishable items.
Sapunarich’s willingness to share her time has extended to local recreation programs, volunteering to run the softball, volleyball, soccer, and basketball programs. Last year, when her mom fell ill, she devoted herself to taking care of her.
“I feel fortunate,” said Sapunarich. “Over the years, Inserra has provided me with a rewarding and satisfying job that has allowed me the opportunity to grow and help others right here in my own town.”