Sharing Connections names Ryan Varju as new chief executive officer
The board of trustees of Sharing Connections furniture bank in Downers Grove has announced the retirement of their chief executive officer, Deb Rickert, and the promotion of Ryan Varju to CEO.
Varju, who currently serves as the organization's chief operating officer, has more than 19 years of experience in non-profit management, including the last 13 years with Sharing Connections managing the organization's operations as well as programs, volunteers and agency liaison.
Since 2006, he has led the effort to help serve more than 76,000 individuals and build a network of over 550 social service professionals throughout Northern Illinois through the services of Sharing Connections. In addition to his experience in non-profit, he brings with him over eight years of banking, HR and IT management.
Varju is a life-long resident of Joliet in Will County.
"We have been fortunate to have Ryan as a critical part of Sharing Connections' growth for the past 13 years and there is no one better to step in and lead the organization to even greater success," said board chairman Tom Hushek.
The move comes during an especially active time in the organization's development. In 2018 alone Sharing Connections served close to 10,000 individuals, up 30% from 2017.
"Yes, we provide much needed furniture and clothing -- but it's so much more than that," Varju said. "So many of us here that have dedicated our professional career, or our free time through volunteering, have also overcome a similar crisis in our journey. It's this experience that gives us the opportunity to share in the experience with our clients. We provide more than furniture, each day that we come to Sharing Connections, we truly do furnish hope one person at a time."
Since 1986, Sharing Connections has been providing furniture, household items, clothing and beds to clients including the previously homeless, unemployed and working poor, veterans, victims of domestic violence, immigrants, individuals with mental or physical disabilities, victims of fire, flood and natural disaster, etc. Clients have an average salary of approximately $12,400 a year for a family of four. Sharing Connections accepts donations of gently used furniture and other household items which they share with clients to fulfill the vision that "tonight everyone eats at a table and sleeps in a bed."
For information on how to donate furniture or other items, visit www.sharingconnections.org or call (630) 971-0565.