Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July “Lunch and Learn” for Volunteer Managers

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County will present a Volunteer Managers’ “Lunch and Learn” Roundtable on Thursday, July 22, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Volunteer Center’s offices at 64 Passaic Street in Hackensack. The Roundtables are free, but all attendees must be pre-registered to attend. To RSVP, call 201-489-9454 Ext. 118 or e-mail by July 22nd.

Participants must bring their own lunches; soft drinks will be provided. Driving directions and parking instructions will be e-mailed to registered attendees before each session.
All professionals who work with or manage volunteers in non-profit, corporate, community, governmental or faith-based settings are invited to attend this seminar—part of a series of bi-monthly meetings that are informal yet interactive, with time for networking and group problem solving activities.
Each Roundtable will provide an opportunity for professional growth and interaction with colleagues as well as a forum for sharing ideas and best practices in the field. Additionally, attendees will get updates on new programs and services that the Volunteer Center has available to enhance agencies’ volunteer programs.
“These meetings have proven to be informational as well as inspirational,” says Debbie Emery, Community Volunteer Services Director for the Volunteer Center. “The lively exchanges have helped participants keep their skills sharp, find out about new ideas, and get answers to questions about making the most of their volunteer workforces.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Community Service Was Never So Fun

17 High School Students came together during the week of June 23 - 27 to participate in the Volunteer Center’s brand new teen leadership experience, Ready, Set, Serve.
Their five day experience provided each teen a glimpse into his or her personal leadership style and strengths, as well as the opportunity to be part of a team and work together for a common good. 

Ready Set Serve (RSS) is a unique training program designed to help prepare the next generation for leadership roles in their communities.  Through a state-of-the-art curriculum that includes both classroom instruction and experiential training, RSS teaches middle- and high-school-age youth a broad array of leadership skills applicable to community service.  The ultimate purpose of RSS is to help create stronger communities - and a stronger nation - by igniting in young people the ability and the desire to make meaningful, lifelong contributions to their communities. 

Kayla, 10th grader at Hackensack high School, shares her perspective, “I have participated in many leadership programs through my school, church and camp but this experience with the Volunteer Center of Bergen County has been one of a kind.”

What’s so unique about Ready, Set, Serve is that it is not just a 5-day program.  The teens are now beginning to embark upon service projects designed during the program which they will work on throughout the upcoming school year. 

Watch to see what happens in August when Middle Schoolers put their talents and enthusiasm to the test during the next RSS session!
Click here to link to Ready, Set, Serve.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Program Planned for 6th, 7th and 8th Graders

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County will be offering a one-week summer service and leadership experience for teens this August.  The program, scheduled for August 25-29, 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 6th, 7th or 8th 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, August 29th closing session.  Students provide their own lunch the other days.  The deadline for application is July 25th.   Tuition can be paid online at  Call 201-489-9454 Ext. 118  or email for more information.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Area Companies Needed to Collect School Supplies for Needy Kids

Hundreds of children from needy families receive breakfast and lunch during the school year through subsidized school meal programs.  When schools close for summer vacation, these meals are not available, and low-income families are often unable to fill the void, many having to make the choice between paying rent or going hungry.
Companies are needed to host employee food drives during the summer to help these families.
Business Volunteer Connect (BVC) a program of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County,  is coordinating a summer food drive with both its member companies and other interested companies, to collect “kid-friendly”, non-perishable breakfast and lunch food items.  The food collected during this initiative, entitled Brown Bag Buddies, will be delivered to the Center for Food Action and other local food pantries during the months of July and August. A free information kit that describes the program and provides “how-to” instructions on running an employee food drive is available by calling (201) 489-9454 Ext. 133.
According to statistics from the National School Lunch Program, more than 385,000 children in New Jersey, including over 20,000 who live in Bergen County, receive free or reduced price meals in their schools.  Last year, only 11 percent of the children participating in the National School Lunch Program had access to nutritious meals in the summer. 
  “The wages of the working poor have not kept up with housing, transportation and child care costs. Without school meals, families must turn to the food pantries to provide nutritional meals for their children,” says Ellen Lutvak, BVC Manager.
Since 2000, over $346,000 worth of food and grocery gift cards, which equates to  over one hundred thousand pounds of food,  have been  distributed through Brown Bag Buddies.  The goal for 2014 is 10,000 pounds of food.  The sponsors for this year’s drive are United Water, BD, Rockland Electric, Sealed Air, Community Bank of Bergen County, Konika Minolta, KPMG and Bank of New Jersey.  “We are asking all companies in northern New Jersey to encourage their employees to participate in this summer food drive,” continues Ms. Lutvak. “Remember, hunger never takes a vacation.”
For more information about Brown Bag Buddies or the other programs of the BVC, call (201) 489-9454, Ext. 133 or e-mail

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Congrats to the Bergen LEADS Class of 2014

A very special congratulations to the 26 men and women in the Bergen LEADS Class of 2014.  They have met monthly since September to dissect issues, debate viewpoints and get a first-hand look at Bergen County’s infrastructure.   The Forum, which takes place today, June 10, is the culmination of the seminar year for the Class of 2014.  

Members of the graduating class are: Carmen Addeo (Rutherford); Jonathan Backhaus (Oakland); JoAnn Berenguer (Clifton); Joseph Carnevale (Oradell); Marlene Ceragno (Fort Lee); Shoum Chakravarti (Secaucus); Timothy Chou (Paramus); Nilufer DeScherer (Woodcliff Lake); Lisa DiGaetano (Park Ridge); Alexis Fatigati (New Milford); Margaret Keane (Dumont); Samuel Lee (Englewood); Mary Lyons-Kim (Wyckoff); Sheila Moore (Cliffside Park); Michael Morea (Glen Rock); Cynthia Mullins-Simmons (Teaneck); Joanne Murad (Waldwick); Sandra Pinkerton (Fort Lee); Maria Rini (Oradell); Maria J Rodriguez (Lyndhurst); Linsey Schwetje (Weehawken); Eddie Seavers (Midland Park); Bruce Silberman (Fair Lawn); Lauren Turiello (Lyndhurst); Phil Wells (Hillsdale); Erica West (Fair Lawn).