Monday, April 21, 2014

A Special Thank You for a Community Leader

A special thank you to TD Bank Vice President and Ridgewood Store Manager, Jim Konzel, for his donation of toys to a participant in our Mentoring Moms program.   Georgia Brown has run a fully licensed, state certified day care program in her Englewood home for the past 4 ½ years and  is in the midst of renovating her home to build her business.  She carefully utilizes donations from people in the community so she can keep her rates affordable and help meet the child care needs of more families.  
 
 Jim graciously donated bags of his children's own gently used toys  to Tots Haven, Georgia's in-home day care center. Georgia, a long term Mentoring Moms participant, came to the program from the county’s Temporary Aide for Needy Families program.  A single mom to her three children and grandson, she continues her path to become more self-sufficient.
 
Mentoring Moms provides an informal network of support to mothers who have limited resources and struggle financially, logistically and emotionally with raising their families. For information about becoming a mentor, call the Volunteer Center at 201-489-9454.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Summer Program Planned for 9th and 10th Graders

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County will be offering a one-week summer service and leadership experience for teens this June.  The program, scheduled for June 23-27, will be held at the Volunteer Center in Hackensack from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm daily.
Ready, Set, Serve is an exciting and challenging summer program for Bergen County students who will be entering the 9th or 10th grades in September.  Teens will be immersed in a week of interactive, interesting and fun activities, learning leadership skills that will help them make a difference in their schools and communities.
The focus of Ready, Set, Serve is community service.  Through a state-of –the-art curriculum that includes both classroom instruction and experiential training, teens will participate in challenging exercises including community needs analysis, goal setting, team building, project planning, decision making and other dynamic leadership skills.
The Ready, Set, Serve experience continues beyond the one week in summer.   Participants will continue to meet monthly from September through March to discuss and work on individual or group service projects.  A graduation and project presentation will be held in conjunction with the Volunteer Center’s Celebrate Volunteers recognition event in April 2015.
“The ultimate purpose of  Ready, Set, Serve is to help create stronger communities - and a stronger nation - by igniting in young people the ability and desire to make meaningful, lifelong contributions to their communities,” says Debbie Emery, Community Volunteer Services Director at the Volunteer Center.  “Students participating in this program will have a great activity to add to their college applications and resumes, as well as service hours they can use to meet requirements of schools and religious institutions.
The fee to attend this program is $350 per student, which includes all class materials, snacks, beverages and lunch on the Friday, June 27 closing session.  Students provide their own lunch the other days.  The deadline for application is May 27th.   Tuition can be paid online at www.bergenvolunteers.org.  Call 201-489-9454 Ext. 118  or email demery@bergenvolunteers.org for more information.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Community Collaboration for Family Volunteer Day


Family Volunteer Day is fast approaching and, wow!, it’s going to be great!  Volunteers will help with the community garden at Bergen Community College, Paramus.  MEVO (Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization) developed and maintains the garden; will be leading volunteers and teaching all sorts of environmental info.
 
Boiling Springs Savings Bank is our Family Volunteer Day Sponsor and sending lots of volunteers of their own to participate in this great event! Other community partners include Whole Foods (Ridgewood), Snack Sponsor , offering up healthy treats Anthony Aluotto, owner of Giovanni’s Deli (Fair Lawn) is treating everyone to lunch.  All designed to nourish volunteers as they bring gardens and ground to life after a long winter.  
 
Thank you to all for coming together for what promises to be a special day of service.  There is still time to sign up for this fun-filled event.  No one is too young or too old to help out.  For more information click here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Deadline Approaching to Apply for Bergen LEADS Class of 2015

Applications are due April 11, for Bergen LEADS, an innovative, 10-month civic leadership program for adults who live or work in Bergen County.
 
Men and women from the private sector, nonprofit agencies and government organizations, as well as community volunteers, are encouraged to submit an application form, available at www.bergenleads.org.  
 
Bergen LEADS is a program of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, which has successfully engaged Bergen County residents in civic life for more than 40 years.  Bergen LEADS - led by former Bergen County Executive William “Pat” Schuber - carries on that tradition by providing an extraordinarily rich, diverse and stimulating program focusing on topical issues, leadership and community trusteeship. 
 
We’re seeking individuals from all ethnic, racial and socio-economic backgrounds who espouse different political, religious and social views,” says Mr. Schuber.  “In short, we want our class to represent and celebrate the rich diversity of Bergen County.”
 
Participants will be selected on the basis of demonstrated interest in the community, achievement in their professions and/or volunteer activities, and potential for responsible and effective leadership.  
 
For more information on the Bergen LEADS program, go to www.bergenleads.org or contact Amanda Missey at 201-489-9454. ext. 119 or  amissey@bergenvolunteers.org.

Monday, March 31, 2014

National Volunteer Week is April 6 - 12

The 2014 National Volunteer Week is April 6-12.  This year’s theme, “Celebrate Service” is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. The week calls on every citizen to do his or her part to sustain the growing spirit of service to the community, whether by committing hours or dollars to the cause.

National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging individuals and groups in the community to be at the center of social change—discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to make a difference.  Established in 1974, the week has grown exponentially each subsequent year, with literally thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout.
 
Volunteering – performing a service of one’s own free will, without pay – is the hallmark of a healthy, active society. Whether it is done through a school, religious, governmental or social organization (or less formally through the concept of “neighboring”), volunteers address a wide range of problems.
 
People who volunteer feel an increased sense of pride, satisfaction and accomplishment by making a positive difference in their community. And, when people share their time and talents, they solve problems, strengthen communities, improve lives, and connect to others.
 
Volunteer service has a dramatic positive impact on the economy.  The estimated dollar value of a volunteer’s time is $22.14 per hour (IndependentSector.org); the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) estimates that volunteers donate an average of 8 billion hours yearly—equivalent to more than $171 billion in contributed service!   
 
Over the past two decades there has been a growing body of research that indicates volunteering provides real health benefits to individuals who volunteer, as well as social and workplace benefits.
 
A 2013 review, published in BMC Public Health, found that helping others on a regular basis—like serving food in a soup kitchen or reading to the blind—can reduce early mortality rates by 22%, compared to rates in people who don’t participate in volunteer activities.  The review also revealed that volunteers benefit from reduced rates of depression and an increased sense of life satisfaction and well-being—doing good, it seems, made them feel good. Other benefits include lower risk of dementia from  increased social contact and reduced loneliness.
 
In its 2013 Health and Volunteering Study, UnitedHealth Group looked at its own employee volunteers and the impact their employee volunteer program had, not only on the communities they serve, but on their employees’ health and the overall the health of the company.  Employers directly see the benefits of physically and mentally healthier employees; healthier employees drive down the cost of health and promote higher productivity. Employees who volunteer bring more refined job skills to the workplace— effective time management and strong people and teamwork skills. Volunteering with colleagues creates stronger, more collaborative relationships which add value in any work setting. Goodwill is generated in a company that offers volunteer programs in the workplace, and this drives positive results directly to the bottom line.
 
Volunteering also has social rewards. College graduates or business people looking for new opportunities can volunteer in the community and meet new people, some of whom may be influential community leaders.  Volunteering helps to retain and sharpen old skills as well as develop new ones. 
 
For those thinking of a career change, volunteering is a perfect way to explore new fields.  Volunteering can be energizing and renewing, especially when it involves a personal interest or hobby.  The fulfillment derived from knowing that one is doing good and being involved in the community can relieve tensions and give different perspectives on old situations.  Strategic thinking, change management and conflict resolution skills can be learned by working in a volunteer setting.   Volunteering can create leaders.
 
The Volunteer Center of Bergen County can help match individuals with opportunities to volunteer.  The Volunteer Center provides a multitude of choices at hundreds of community agencies.  The Center can provide individual volunteer opportunities, group and at-home project ideas, as well as information for students and youth groups interested in volunteering - particularly helpful to those seeking to fulfill community service requirements. 
 
For a family-friendly volunteer option, the Volunteer Center will present a Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, April 12.  The event will be held at Bergen Community College, Paramus, on the MEVO site (Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization); families will be needed to prepare soil, build raised beds and spread mulch to get this 1-acre farm ready for planting. Go to bergenvolunteers.org for more information.
 
During Volunteer Week, The Center’s Business Volunteer Connect will present All in a Day’s Work, a county-wide week of service for volunteers from businesses large and small.  There will be dozens of projects from which to choose—from landscaping and painting, to client interaction with seniors and children.  Visit businessvolunteerconnect.org for more information
 
In addition to recruiting volunteers for more than 300 local non-profits, the Volunteer Center also has three programs which utilize volunteers.  The Chore Service uses volunteers to perform minor home repairs to keep senior citizens and disabled homeowners safe in their own homes.  Its two mentoring programs, Mentoring Moms and Mentoring Youth, train and supervise adult mentors for overwhelmed moms and for children with social, emotional and behavioral challenges.  Training for Mentoring Moms begins Monday, April 7 and for Mentoring Youth on Wednesday, April 30.   Registration for either program can be made by calling 201-489-9454
 
For further information about all of the Volunteer Center’s programs and becoming a volunteer, call the Center at (201) 489-9454, or visit its website at www.bergenvolunteers.org and search the online database for the most current information and volunteer positions.  The Center also publishes an annual Guide to Volunteering, a comprehensive directory listing hundreds of volunteer positions.
 
Do Good.  Feel Good.  Volunteer!
 
The Volunteer Center of Bergen County strengthens the community by connecting people through service and developing civic leaders.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Business Volunteer Connect After Hours Networking Event

 
http://businessvolunteerconnect.org/Business Volunteer Connect will host an after-hours networking event, sponsored by Jack Daniels Motors and TD Bank, on Wednesday, April 23rd from 6 - 8 pm.  The event will be held at Jack Daniels Audi, 243 Route 17S, Upper Saddle River.  Community relations professionals are invited to network with others who are interested in enhancing or creating an employee engagement program.  Guests may register at businessvolunteerconnect.org or contact Ellen Lutvak at 201-489-9454 x133 or elutvak@bergenvolunteers.org.  Deadline to register is April 16.
 
Business Volunteer Connect, a program of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, provides consultation to companies on everything connected to employee volunteering and community engagement.  Services include customized volunteer projects, guidance and expertise on employee volunteer program management, assistance with skills-based volunteering and participation in several annual volunteer initiatives.
 
Guests will also learn about the Business Volunteer Council (BVC), a dues-supported membership organization open to any employer with operations in the tri-state area.  It is a vital component of the Volunteer Center’s network of services for employee engagement professionals.  With a heightened emphasis on providing opportunities for networking, professional development and sharing of best practices, the BVC continues to provide leadership in meeting community needs through employee volunteerism.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Local boys and girls are looking for heroes.

 These children have been referred to the Volunteer Center of Bergen County’s Mentoring Youth program.  For more than 30 years, this program has trained and supervised adult volunteers to serve as mentors to children age 5 to 18, who are confronting adverse challenges (social, emotional and behavioral) at home and in life..  Mentors serve as positive role models, providing guidance, friendship and support, and advocate on behalf of children when necessary. 
 
The next Mentoring Youth volunteer training program begins on Wednesday, April 30.  Training is held on four consecutive Wednesdays from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm at the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, 64 Passaic Street in Hackensack.
 
“The men and women in the Mentoring Youth Program improve the lives and experiences of children who need someone they can trust; someone to show them they are not alone,” says Janet Sharma, Volunteer Center Executive Director.  “There is an
ongoing need for men to mentor boys and an especially critical need for bi-lingual, Spanish speaking men and women to accommodate the growing number of Spanish speaking families entering the Mentoring Youth program.
 
 
“These children are waiting for someone to step in and believe in them; to encourage them to laugh and succeed,” says Dr. Faith Samples-Smart, Mentoring Youth Program Director.  “We consider time spent with mentors as free time: free of the challenges children confront in their daily environments at home and/or at school.  What a gift to have this respite and safe zone with a caring adult."
 
Mentoring Youth volunteer training is provided at no charge and covers such topics as the benefits of mentoring for volunteers and children; child and adolescent development; understanding child maltreatment; effective listening and communication skills; building rapport and developing strong mentoring relationships; the role of the mentor; and the matching and closure process.  Applicants are required to undergo a comprehensive background check and must submit written letters of recommendation as part of the training course.
 
For more information about the Mentoring Youth program, contact Francine Kaplan, Program Assistant at (201) 489-9474, or visit www.bergenvolunteers.org and click on mentoring programs.