Mail Services' Nick DeFuria delivers progressby Ashley Morris
Nick DeFuria thought he had retired from the United States Postal Service when he migrated to Myrtle Beach from New Jersey. But it turns out his career mail route was just forwarded.
“I didn’t think I was going to work again, but that lasted for about six months,” he says. “I tried! The most exercise I was getting was working a thumb on the TV remote.”
DeFuria, director of CCU’s Mail Services, who had worked his way up from letter carrier in 1969 to postmaster to postal inspector in Bloomfield, N.J., became director of the campus USPS contract station in Sands Hall in July. And he loves every busy minute of it.
“Every day is a new experience – especially with the growth of the university,” says DeFuria. “Really, we get to see more students than any department on campus. We see their ups and downs, the smiles on their faces that come with mail around the holidays or Valentine’s Day. We witness them looking in their cards from home for those checks.”
DeFuria and his staff of three post office professionals, two temps and 10 students – all thoroughly trained by the USPS veteran – have quite a daily task to deliver. They’re responsible for the incoming mail of nearly 4,000 freshman and sophomore students, plus all departments throughout campus. His team handled 16,000 packages last year; so far this semester, they’ve already handled 12,000.
The student mail service population, according to DeFuria, has tripled in size in a year’s time. But he’s not letting that number cause panic into the post office, which is a full-service facility not only for students, but also for faculty, staff and the public.
Goals abound, including the vital upgrade into a more computer-friendly post office. As of about two months ago, credit cards are accepted. And in January 2011, DeFuria plans to reveal (with great pride) an all-new counter, complete with USPS-caliber computer equipment. “We’re trying to make customer service our main goal,” says DuFuria. “And to do that for the growing number of faculty, student and public customers, we have to be able to grow, too.”
The ambitious DeFuria says Mail Services also plans to condense all the mailboxes located within University Place into the Sands Hall contract station by the summer of 2011.
And this holiday season, DeFuria is hoping the station will be even busier during its inaugural Toys for Tots toy drive, taking place through Dec. 22. The event kicked off at 9 a.m. Nov. 29, with appearances from an area representative of the U.S. Marine Corps and Terri DeCenzo, who made the first toy donation.
DeFuria has enlisted the help of CCU’s sororities and fraternities to campaign the cause around campus. He says these volunteers and his staff are willing to pick up new, unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots throughout campus for those who don’t have time to drop them off in the big box in the station’s lobby. “I know these are hard times to give,” says DeFuria, “but the CCU family always seems to come through and come together for charity.”
“St. Nick” DeFuria is the first to lend a hand to charities. Mail Services raised $300 from the sale of breast cancer stamps and donated the money to breast cancer charities. And last year, DeFuria walked 25 laps for Relay for Life.
Mail Services’ holiday hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 23. Cookies and hot chocolate will be available in the lobby for customers the first week of December.