Thursday, August 17, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Mike!

Mike Silverstein has been a Chore volunteer for three years, and is part of the Monday, Chore Van #1 crew.  Prior to his 35 years as a full time college professor, he was employed by manufacturing and consulting firms as an industrial engineer.  After retiring from full time teaching in 1997, he taught part time until 2014. He recently became chairperson of the MS Swim-In Board, and is a member of both the senior housing and transportation committees in Teaneck. He enjoys woodworking and has created over 100 wine cork-corkboards for friends and family.  He was a competitive bullseye shooter and competitive small bore rifle shooter for many years.  “I enjoy working with my mind and hands, and also enjoy the camaraderie of working with people my own age, helping individuals who are less fortunate financially or physically than I.”

Monday, August 14, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Rob, John, Tom & Steve!

The Chore Program and its volunteers have been featured in an article about giving back to the community in an issue of ‘This Old House’ Magazine.  Chore is a recipient of the prestigious NJ Governor’s Award for Service to Senior Citizens.  Chore was named a Daily Point of Light by the Points of Light Foundation, the Corporation of Community Service and the Knights of Columbus for its remarkable record of community service and exemplary volunteerism. 


Rob Rossi, John Tercek, Tom Veit and Steve Kaplowitz are the members of the Thursday, Chore Van #1 crew.


Mrs. O writes:  “I commend you on such excellent help for us seniors, so in need.  The Chore crew worked so hard at my home for an extended time to put air conditioners in for me and my disabled son.  I am 83 years old and living on a limited income.  We never could afford outside help.  I cannot thank you enough for these very special men you sent!  We seniors are so lucky for this organization and I hope everyone is as grateful as I am for all of you.”

Monday, August 7, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Joe C!

Joe Cutolo has been with Chore since 2009, and he works on two crews each week—the Monday Chore Van #3 and Tuesday, Chore Van #2.  Prior to joining Chore, he worked in the oil industry for 40 years and operated oil tankers world-wide.  When he is not volunteering for Chore, he spends much time as Commander of American Legion Post 21 in Cresskill, supporting veterans and the community.    In his spare time, he enjoys making wooden model sailing ships and gardening.  “I have been fortunate in my lifetime and enjoy helping those who can use a helping hand.  I derive a great sense of satisfaction.  It is a reminder that my problems are insignificant compared to those of some clients we visit.  I have made some good friendships with the Monday and Tuesday crews, and we have shared many different repair techniques and skills.”

Thursday, August 3, 2017

WHAT'S ON MY MIND!

 
Bergen County's Hidden Therapeutic Gem - by Elma

One of the greatest advantages of getting the opportunity to work at the Bergen Volunteer Center is the ability to visit the many institutions in Bergen County - many of which I had not known about before.

One such institution was the New Alliance Academy. Just a few weeks shy of summer vacation, Debbie Emery had invited me to go along with her and Eric Fuchs-Stengel to New Alliance Academy. Pulling up to the school, taking in its beige building hooded by its green canopy, I thought nothing of it. I thought nothing of it because I was not familiar with the institution.

But, when I stepped inside I was overwhelmed by its significance.

New Alliance Academy is a high school for teenagers experiencing acute psychological distress. In addition to meeting the student's’ educational needs, the Academy also provides continuum of care which provides the students with emotional and therapeutic services. 

As I walked through their halls, I witnessed the impact of New Alliance Academy. The classrooms were lined with bookshelves containing everything from classic literature to political commentary books. The walls were covered with the artwork from the students and their well written papers.

I also had the opportunity to talk with the teachers. The investment and care which they showed for their students was remarkable. They, including the principal, knew each student at a personal level.

Their care for the students allowed them to see the need to engage them in community service. The three of us were there to discuss the importance of becoming involved in the community. Volunteerism encourages unity, leadership, confidence, discipline, and commitment. These are skills that are important for all students to possess, regardless of the type of school they attend.

Although I was there to inform the faculty of New Alliance Academy about the significance of community service, I came away, that day, learning more about Bergen County.

Our county has hidden gems. For me, the New Alliance Academy was a gem that I had the privilege of uncovering.

 


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Message From Our CEO

Dog Days of Summer

Growing up, my father was a college administrator. Now married to a high school principal, August has continued to be that quiet before the storm, that period of reflection before the rush of the fall semester.  August through Labor Day has always been the run up to the "new year" for me and a time for resolutions and plans. 

So what are nonprofits doing in August?  Most are planning for a VERY busy September through December.  And all are thinking about how to engage volunteers in their important work.  

Here at the Bergen Volunteer Center we are: 

--Actively recruiting volunteers for our programs--Chore handypersons, and mentors for moms and teen agers;

--Making-It-Home is gearing up to furnish the new Veterans apartments in Emerson in September;

--Opening days for Bergen LEADS, Teen LEADS and College LEADS are being finalized;

--Office hours for our Redefining Retirement "matchmakers" are being scheduled;

-- And we are planning the Fall Volunteer Fair to be held on September 12th at the Paramus Park Mall.

So in the dog days of summer, the quiet before that first school bell rings, as you curl up with the last stack of beach novels and magazine articles, we hope you will also think about volunteering this fall.  And remember two things:

"Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart."
--Elizabeth Andrew 

AND

"Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. . . . You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Enjoy the Dog Days of Summer,
Lynne

Monday, July 31, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Harvey!

Harvey Rappaport  retired from CBS Broadcasting, where he worked for News, Sports and Entertainment divisions in his early career, and just prior to retiring, was VP Operations at CBS’s international division.  He found out about Chore from reading an article in his local newspaper.  He felt it would be a good match, as he considers himself handy and is always up for a challenge.  He also dog walks for START II, a small private animal shelter in Englewood.  In his spare time he enjoys traveling, going to the theater and caring for his 5 rescue cats.  

He and his crew members in the Tuesday Chore van #1 have completed many safety repairs such as grab bars, smoke detectors and hand railings to make the home safer, but they have also completed some repairs for seniors who are overwhelmed by technology, such as setting up a simple medical alert system.  “The elderly have a need to be kept safe as they stay in their homes.  They are susceptible to unscrupulous people, and we at Chore can be very helpful to them.  There’s nothing better than when we receive a big ‘Thank You and God Bless’ when we leave a home better than when we found it.” 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

WHAT'S ON MY MIND!

Why I Love Bergen County by Elma
I have lived in Bergen County for the past 12 years and there was not a single day when it did not feel like home.

Home is synonymous with comfort, belonging and community. In Bergen County, there is a deep-seated feeling of community. Uncompromisable relationships develop between neighbors, between peers, between YMCA staff and members and even between people you see regularly at the grocery store.

I had first sensed the pulse of our community when I moved to Hackensack from Poughkeepsie. My mom had to pick me up from Fairmount Elementary School by foot because our car had broken down. My brother was cooing in his stroller and I hopped along, a carefree preschooler. Suddenly, the sky cackled and the dark clouds opened up to torrential rain.

Without an umbrella we were forced to keep trudging along in this monsoon. Wet and shivering, we made it to the end of the block, still ten daunting minutes away from home. We were stopped in our tracks by a seaweed green truck whose tinted windows rolled down to reveal a familiar face - our crossing guard. Every day we saw her going to school and coming from school. And there she was, willing to go out of her way to take us home.

That is the heart of Bergen County - a feeling of community that persists through thick and thin.