Monday, August 3, 2015

iTNNorthJersey driving your transportation worries away

by Mary Lyons Kim

ITNNorthJersey volunteers help seniors and the visually impairedWhew!  iTNNorthJersey has taken off like wildfire and we’re living in gratitude.  We’d like to first thank some of those who helped us get started providing rides to those 60+ and the visually impaired.  The JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly helped facilitate the relationship between The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation along with The Jewish Federation of North Jersey, our two founding grant donors.  Both The Taub Foundation and The Jewish Federation have been incredibly supportive and generous in our efforts to help those needing another, and probably better, transportation option in Bergen County.  We have also received a grant from New Jersey Manufacturer’s Insurance and several smaller private donations.

As of August 1st we have 45 Rider Members and 20 Volunteer Drivers.  Ideally we need a 2 -1 ratio so we are ALWAYS recruiting drivers who can provide as little as one ride per month although more is much appreciated. Try it – you’ll like it!

Driving our members where they want to go, when they need to get there, is incredibly rewarding.  Bringing Roy from his house in Allendale to rehab in Saddle Brook always brings with it interesting and intellectual conversations.  Driving Doris from her home in Ft. Lee to her favorite shopping mall is a laugh filled ride that’s always inspiring and uplifting.  We are so happy to be able to bring Trudy to visit her husband in rehab for lunch several times per week.  She would otherwise have no other way to get from her home in Paramus up to Rockleigh that would be affordable.

We’ll continue to work hard to make iTNNorthJersey a continued success and please reach out to us anytime for more information; suggestions and good wishes are always appreciated.

We’re enjoying the ride and so can you!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Climbing New Heights

By: Sabrina Clay
It was a day full of fun and adventure. From rock climbing and tug of war to human knots and trust mind field games, everyone had a blast!
The day was sponsored by Goldman Sachs who brought with them 9 volunteers to give 18 kids, ages 5-14 from our Mentoring Youth and Mentoring Moms programs, a day of daring and exciting activity at The Gravity Vault in Upper Saddle River, NJ.

The camp-like experience and team oriented games created positive outcomes for the kids, boosting their confidence and self-esteem while teaching them the importance of trusting each other and working together.
The day’s adventures also brought out the kids’ leadership skills, which often times go unnoticed in their everyday lives. At first, some of the kids were afraid to climb the wall. But with lots of encouragement from the volunteers and fellow peers, they overcame the fear and conquered the wall – climbing all the way to the top! With new found confidence, some of them even attempted the really hard vertical wall!

I believe that through this fun-filled day, the kids realized they can overcome personal, mental and even physical hurdles if they set their minds to it.
A big thanks to Goldman Sachs for sponsoring the trip and raising over $1,300. And thanks to The Gravity Vault for offering up their staff and creating an amazing experience valued at $500.

What the kids were able to accomplishment on the rock wall is a true metaphor for what they can accomplish in life too. These kids were simply amazing!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Volunteer Center Launches Board Matching Program for Corporations

“Non-profit organizations continually face the challenge of finding committed board members”, states Erica West, Director of Corporate Engagement at the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. “It is estimated that nearly 2 million non-profit board seats need to be filled each year.” The Volunteer Center’s BoardLink fills this gap by providing personalized matching services to skilled corporate professionals who have an interest in giving back to the community through nonprofit board service. By leveraging their 50 years of experience with non-profits and volunteer service, the Volunteer Center is poised to both fill a tremendous need in the community and also provide a real benefit to corporations. Integrating board volunteerism into the workplace is a powerful way to keep employees engaged and fulfilled and help them enhance their leadership skills, while also promoting corporate social responsibility. The community benefits tremendously by having strong leadership at local non-profits that are addressing needs in the community. BoardLink was launched in April 2015 in recognition of National Volunteer Week. 

The Volunteer Center has a growing cadre of more than 40 non-profits in the northern NJ/New York metro area who are interested and ready to take on new board members through BoardLink.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is one company that is working with the Volunteer Center to make BoardLink available to Novartis senior leaders. Their involvement reflects the company’s commitment to engaging their employees in philanthropic initiatives that will further their mission of caring and curing and improve the social environment in which Novartis operates. 

The Volunteer Center will work with Novartis employees to assess their interests and skills, and identify a local non-profit that is a good fit. The Volunteer Center will also provide training to Novartis employees on the roles and responsibilities of a board member, as well as the expectations of serving on a non-profit board. 

“By sharing their vision, strategic thinking and experience with a non-profit organization in the community, Novartis leaders can also enhance their abilities and grow professionally”, states Wanda Sims of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. We look forward to working with the Volunteer Center to engage our leaders in advancing the work of local non-profit organizations.”

For more information about BoardLink, please visit contact Erica West at ewest@bergenvolunteers.org, 201-489-9454, ext. 133.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

VOLUNTEER HANDY-PERSONS SOUGHT

Want to enjoy a really rewarding experience? Help Bergen County’s senior citizens and disabled people remain safe in their own homes. The Chore Service, sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, performs minor household repairs that senior citizens and disabled persons can neither do themselves nor get anyone else to do.

A Chore Handyperson volunteer goes on service calls one day a week from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm. Volunteers enjoy being part of a crew of two to four people who ride in specially equipped Chore vans. Each crew is assigned 4-5 service calls each weekday.

Last year, Chore volunteers visited over 2,000 homes and performed 4,000 repairs for grateful citizens. This year, the request for service is even greater, and additional volunteers will be needed to fill new and existing shifts.

Studies have shown that volunteers enjoy health benefits, from reduction of stress and lowering of blood pressure to improving self-esteem and enhancing the immune system.

Volunteering with a Chore crew offers an opportunity to get out, meet new people, stay connected with the broader world and share handyman skills.

Prospective volunteers should be able to perform minor household repairs such as those that able-bodied homeowners must do. Ideally, volunteers will be available on a regular basis so Chore can schedule a regular day with the same crew. Volunteer van drivers/handypeople are especially needed.

It’s a great volunteer opportunity for retirees, or people who work second and third shift jobs. Back-up volunteer handymen and women are also welcome.

Call Maureen at
(201) 489-7790 to find out how satisfying it can be to lend a hand to those in need.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Business Volunteer Council Quarterly Meeting

The Business Volunteer Council invites you to attend their quarterly meeting. 

June 25, 9:00am-10:30am
Breakfast, networking and seminar
Location: Meadowlands Racetrack Victory Bar
Guests and Members are free for this event

Network with like-minded professionals, share best practices on employee engagement, and learn about trending topics from experts in the field of CSR and the nonprofit sector.
 
This month, join us at the Meadowlands Racetrack Victory Lounge for breakfast and networking followed by a presentation on the impact of Pro Bono Skills Based Volunteering featuring Amy Klein, Executive Director of VolunteerConnect.
 
Amy will share how your business can enhance it's volunteer program by engaging employees in measurable short-term impact projects with nonprofits needing their support. Many nonprofits don’t have the financial means to pay for all the skills they need to carry out their missions. Employees who provide expertise in areas such as business analysis, marketing, strategic planning, and IT services can make a tremendous difference helping nonprofits create social change.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Bergen Leaders Present Public Forum on Suburban Downtowns

The 2015 Class of Bergen LEADS, Bergen County’s premier civic leadership program,  
presented a Public Forum on the topic “Revitalizing and Refocusing Bergen County Suburban Downtowns” on June 9, 2015 at Bergen Community College. The Public Forum showcased the Bergen LEADS class project, which was the culmination of the 10-month learning and leadership development program managed by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.

Issues such as demographics, housing, transportation, parking and safe communities were presented and discussed, with creative solutions to current challenges presented. Several government officials attended, including Ray Cywinski, Mayor of Demarest and graduate of Bergen LEADS Class of 2010, and Freeholder Tracy Zur. The Public Forum was moderated by Francis Reiner, an accomplished professional planner, urban designer and landscape architect with more than 20 years of experience working in both the public and private sector, including the Hackensack Downtown Rehabilitation and Redevelopment Plan. The event was sponsored by Rockland Electric Company.

The 24 men and women in the Bergen LEADS Class of 2015 have met monthly since September to dissect issues, debate viewpoints and get a first-hand look at Bergen County’s infrastructure. The Forum is the culmination of the seminar year for the Class of 2015. After the Forum, the class participated in a graduation ceremony led by Bergen LEADS Seminar Co-Directors, former Bergen County Executive William “Pat” Schuber, and Volunteer Center CEO and Englewood City Councilwoman-at-Large Lynne H. Algrant.

Members of the graduating class are: Cindy Andrake, Tonice Bunting, Maria Deptula, Rhona Feimster-Vega, Beth Figman, Eric Hugo, Shonya Jordan, Blake Levine, Kimberly Lewis-Banks, Mark McKoy, Erika Monell, William Mulaney, James Narin, James O’Leary, Kristen Pakonis, Isabel Perez, Tenia Peterson, Scott Reddin, Marisa Santiago, JoAnne Seibel, Charisse Taylor, Paul Thomasset, Eric Tomaszewski and David Van Schalik.

Bergen LEADS is sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, which has successfully engaged Bergen County residents in civic life for 49 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.  Learn more at bergenleads.org.