Friday, May 20, 2016

For My Mother

By Lynne Algrant

“To My Mother: Who once found me daydreaming in the middle of the kitchen floor and mopped around me.” 
                                                               -Toni Cade Bambara

Each year at the Mentoring Moms Celebration brunch in May, I think of this wonderful book dedication.  The notion of supporting someone’s dreams is so powerful and so delightful.

When you walk into a room of Mentors and Moms you are surrounded by people who support others’ dreams.  At this year’s celebration, we cheered for a Mom who recently graduated from Berkeley College and another Mom who won a scholarship at Ramapo College for her academic achievement.  These women are changing their lives through education and they are cheered on by Mentors, other Moms and Staff—a whole community that supports their dreams.

Additionally, all of the moms attending the event went home with a bagful of household toiletries donated by the Eastern Bergen County Board of Realtors.

The Mentoring Moms Program has launched a new initiative—the Chat N Chew.  Facilitated by motivational speaker and author, Faith Saunders and co-facilitated by Tracey, one of our Moms, Chat N Chew is an opportunity for Moms to serve as a peer support to each other.  They are paying forward the support and guidance they have been given by Mentors.

Helping women to provide a safe and stable home for their families is the mission of Mentoring Moms.  Here at the Bergen Volunteer Center, we are so proud and honored to help mentors turn their caring into meaningful action. And now, we are facilitating the chain reaction where those who have been mentored are supporting each other. 

Learn more about the Mentoring Moms program by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Bergen Volunteer Center and its community partners support our local veterans

We are so excited about the success of our first Veterans Resource Fair, held on April 20th.  The collection focused on spring/summer supplies and clothing needed to help out the needy and homeless veterans of Bergen County. 

This project was a partnership with the Bergen County Bureau of Veterans Affairs and Ashley Crawley, high school student and candidate for the Girl Scout’s most prestigious honor, the Gold Award.  Volunteers from BCB Bank, Suez, Five Star Premier Residence, Backpacks for Life, and Atlantic Stewardship Bank were also on hand to sort items, serve food, offer financial literacy lessons and provide “personal shopping” for each of the veterans in attendance.

“It was a heartwarming experience spending time with the Veterans who attended the Bergen Volunteer Center Veteran's Resource Fair,” said Paul Van Ostenbridge, President and CEO of Atlantic Stewardship Bank.  “I had the opportunity to assist one of my new friends in preparing for a job interview and it left us both feeling extremely positive.  Another Veteran shared with me that he was in Vietnam and when he returned to the states, there were no programs like this one.  He was sincerely grateful for the care and friendliness shown during his visit to the Resource Fair.”

Individuals, families, civic groups, faith-based organizations, our non-profit partners and our corporate neighbors supported the event through donations of much needed toiletries, new clothing, and gift cards. 

“This event was an uplifting opportunity for volunteers to give back to people who have served our country.  We look forward to hosting this event in the future.  Working together, we know we can accomplish so much for these deserving men and women who have supported our country,” remarks Debbie Emery, Director of Community Engagement for the Bergen Volunteer Center.


A very special thank you to our sponsors of the Veteran’s Fair:  BCB Bank, Five Star Premier Residence, and the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Bergen Volunteer Center bridges partnership between Microsoft and the Korean American community

The Bergen Volunteer Center brought together two if its valued corporate and nonprofit partners, the Microsoft Store of Wayne and Asian Women’s Christian Association of Teaneck (AWCA), to launch free computer literacy classes for Korean American seniors.  The fifteen-week long program, which began in March at AWCA, is aimed at educating Korean American seniors to become proficient in basic computer skills such as email, internet, and social medial. 

“Being comfortable with technology is so important at any age, but for seniors it is vital to keeping them connected to loved ones, active and engaged.  We have been honored to facilitate this exciting partnership between AWCA and Microsoft” says Lynne Algrant, Bergen Volunteer Center CEO.


The Bergen Volunteer Center is proud to sustain robust county-wide and multi-sector relationships and is passionate about sharing those relationships with anyone to build a better community.  For more information on how you can turn your caring into meaningful action, please visit www.bergenvolunteers.org.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Scholarship Offered for Bergen LEADS

The Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce (MRC), a leading business service organization in the South Bergen area, is offering scholarships to Chamber members who are selected to participate in Bergen LEADS, an innovative, 10-month learning and 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. Tuition for the program is $2,000; the Meadowlands Chamber will offer $500 scholarships for up to four of its members who are accepted into the Class of 2017. MRCC members are invited to contact the Chamber at 201-939-0707 for more information about the scholarship opportunity.

“In order to grow a strong economy in the greater Meadowlands of Bergen County, we will need dedicated and strong leaders,” says Jim Kirkos, CEO of the Meadowlands Chamber. “The Bergen LEADS program is the perfect incubator to identify those leaders and the program is a natural extension of our advocacy.”

Bergen LEADS is a program of Bergen Volunteer Center, which has successfully engaged Bergen County residents in civic life for 50 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. Applications for the Class of 2017 are available at www.bergenleads.org and are due on April 10, 2016. For questions about the application, contact Beanne DeGuzman at bdeguzman@bergenvolunteers.org or 201-489-9454 ext. 203.

Funding for Bergen LEADS is provided by participant tuition plus generous contributions from individuals and area corporations and foundations.

Bergen Volunteer Center strengthens the community by connecting people through service and developing civic leaders.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Try Your Luck at Derby Day!

And they’re off! One of the area’s most beloved and anticipated events is scheduled for Saturday, May 7th at the Hilton Hasbrouck Heights, 650 Terrace Avenue, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.

The Bergen Volunteer Center’s 24th annual Derby Day party promises a winning combination of savory southern food, authentic mint juleps, wine tasting, great live music from The Stuff Brothers and of course, the viewing of the 141st Kentucky Derby! The party runs from 5:30 to 9:30 pm and features an exciting auction, as well as party favorites the Wine Pull and Winner’s Circle.

Guests will have the opportunity to preview some of the auction items, which are on display online at the Derby Day webpage at bergenvolunteers.org. Guests can also view photos from last year’s Derby Day and purchase tickets, which are $100 per person or purchase a reserved table of 10 for $1,000.

Guests are encouraged to dress in festive, casual-elegant attire. In the spirit of the Kentucky Derby, awards will be given for the “Most Elegant Hat” for the ladies and “Most Outrageous Tie” for the gentlemen. Linda Barba writer of Linda’s List for BC the magazine and Mrs. NJ winner Tara Fiorini will be our featured judges this year. For more information call 201-489-9454.


“The Volunteer Center’s Derby Day party is a great way to spend an afternoon - good food, good music, good fun – all to support an outstanding organization that does good work in the Bergen County community,” says Katherine Norian, Volunteer Center Board member who is chair of the Derby Day committee. ”Reserve your tickets now and get ready to enjoy all things Derby!”

All proceeds will benefit Volunteer Center programs and services, including two Mentoring programs, the Chore handyman service for senior citizens and Bergen Leads, an exciting leadership development program.

The Volunteer Center strengthens the community by connecting people through service and developing civic leaders.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Supply and Clothing Drive for Veterans

The Bergen Volunteer Center continues to support our local veterans with an upcoming resource fair and collections drive.  The collection will focus on spring/summer supplies and clothing needed to help out the needy and homeless veterans of Bergen County.  “This project has become a partnership with the Bergen County Bureau of Veterans Affairs and Ashley Crawley, high school student and candidate for the Girl Scout’s most prestigious honor, the Gold Award.  Working together, we know we can accomplish so much for these deserving men and women who have supported our country,” remarks Debbie Emery, Director of Community Engagement for the Bergen Volunteer Center.

The Volunteer Center will be collecting donations of only new items including: body wash and other essential toiletries, disposable razors and shaving gel, Casual shorts (walking or cargo style) sizes 32-46, Athletic (basketball type) shorts size M-3X, Casual T-shirts size M-3X, Collared Polo Shirts, Flip Flop style sandals, men’s sizes 8 – 13, M-3XL, Wind Breakers, Underwear Boxer Briefs M/L/XXL, Socks  low rise, and Gift Cards for Shop Rite, Target, McDonalds, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts or Subway.

We will be collecting items from now until April 18, please call Debbie Emery at 201-489-9454, ext. 202 to arrange a drop off time.  Items are to be dropped off at the Bergen Volunteer Center, 64 Passaic Street, Hackensack (located in the First Presbyterian Church building) and will be distributed at a Veterans Resource Fair in April.  For additional information on how you can help out, please visit the Bergen Volunteer Center’s website at www.bergenvolunteers.org.  

In 2016 the Bergen Volunteer Center will celebrate 50 years of service in our community. Here at the Bergen Volunteer Center we are redefining volunteerism by inspiring and developing the members of our Community to make an impact and turn caring into meaningful action.

Our core mission has remained constant, but our ability to stay current and adapt in an ever changing economic and social environment has been the key to our enduring success. The Bergen Volunteer Center will continue to serve Bergen with strength and a robust, ever expanding purpose:  Turn Caring into Action.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Business Volunteer Council Promotes Childhood Literacy on National Read Across America Day

"From a child's first foray into the depths of a story to an adult's escape into a world of words, reading plays an integral role in our lives." -- President Barack Obama



Bergen Volunteer Center’s Business Volunteer Council (BVC) kicked off its annual Books in a Bag book drive in early January. BVC member businesses collected thousands of new books for children of low income families to promote the importance of family literacy.
           
Children raised in homes that read, grow up to be better readers and do better in school than children raised in homes where literacy is not a priority. For low-income preschoolers, increasing early literacy and math skills is vital to closing the achievement gap between them and their more advantaged peers. 

In an effort to raise awareness about childhood literacy, Business Volunteer Council volunteers, Suez Water North Jersey, Atlantic Stewardship Bank, and BD put on their red and white hats and read their favorite stories to 470 pre-school and kindergarten students at the Quarles School in Englewood.  The celebration Read Across America Day, took place on March 2, 2016, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. Nearly 500 backpacks filled with 1500 new books were donated by the BVC for all the children to take home and start reading that day!
  
The Business Volunteer Council’s Books in a Bag is still collecting books for the Bergen Volunteer Center’s annual Big Book Give Away on Saturday, April 23, 2016, a book fair for children and families mentored through the Bergen Mentors program and other human service agencies. Bergen Mentors is comprised of two support programs; Mentoring Youth, which provides mentors to children who have suffered severe abuse and neglect, and Mentoring Moms, which provides support to mothers struggling to provide for their families. A combined 182 children are served by the two programs, 95% of whom are from low-income families. Buying books at a bookstore or at their school book fair is a luxury that is often not in the family budget for many of the children in Bergen Mentors, so this special book fair will enable the children to enjoy the thrill of attending a book fair and choosing trending titles without worrying about cost. 

Poverty should never prevent any child from the chance to learn and thrive.” states Erica West, the Volunteer Center’s Director of Corporate Engagement. “As members of the community, Business Volunteer Council members are poised to help families instill the value of reading in their children and educate parents on the significant impact family reading can have on a child’s development.”


All books were generously donated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Suez, Konica Minolta, Sharp Electronics, Scholastic, BD, Atlantic Stewardship Bank and Books and Greetings bookstore. Books in a Bag was sponsored by Business Volunteer Council member companies Konica Minolta, Sharp Electronics, Suez, BD, Community Bank of New Jersey, Atlantic Stewardship Bank and Branding Ovation.