Friday, October 10, 2014

How did you spend your summer?

Youth initiatives at the Volunteer Center of Bergen County ended the summer the way they started, with Ready, Set, Serve, our innovative summertime service “camp.”  The last week in August was the Middle School track for this fun, educational and experiential leadership summertime encounter with service.  Fifteen  7th and 8th grade students from all over Bergen County joined together to become spectacular team investigating service and leadership.  We explored team building, leadership, individual and group goals, and planning and carrying out a community project.
Lily Cohen, 7th grader, said “I really enjoyed Ready, Set, Serve and I learned a lot about how to be a better leader.”  Through a series of challenges, these young leaders were able to explore their own styles of group work, how they solve problems and how they communicate and get their point across to the group. 
“We had a wonderful week together and I am looking forward to working with this special group as they work on individual projects as well as some group activities over the next several months” states Debbie Emery, Director of Community Volunteer Services and program leader for Ready, Set, Serve.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Summer Food Drive for Children a Success

Hundreds of children from needy families receive hot 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.
The Volunteer Center’s Business Volunteer Connect (BVC) coordinated  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”, was delivered to the Center for Food Action and other local food pantries.
“The wages of the working poor have not kept up with housing, transportation and child care costs.  Northern New Jersey has the highest child poverty rates in the state.  Without school meals, families must turn to the food pantries to provide nutritional meals for their children,” says Janet Sharma, executive director of the Volunteer Center.
Eleven companies took part in this year’s initiative, collecting and distributing over 4,000 lbs of food, as well as donated cash.  Included in that total was 263 lbs. of food collected at the BVC’s Night at the Races fundraiser, where 205 guests donated  cereal, mac & cheese and other kid-friendly food, and raised nearly $15,000.  Total value of food/cash distributed was almost $75,000. 
The sponsors for this year’s drive  were Bank of New Jersey, BD, Community Bank of Bergen County, Konica Minolta, KPMG, Rockland Electric, Sealed Air and United Water.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Registration Is Open for MM&B Bergen Bike Tour

Registration is now open for the 19th Annual MM&B Bergen Bike Tour, a family-oriented event to be held on Sunday, September 28, that benefits the Volunteer Center of Bergen County and Tomorrows Children’s Fund.  Presenting sponsor is accounting firm Murphy, Miller & Baglieri, LLC.  The MM&B Bergen Bike Tour will feature 10, 25 and 50 mile routes for cyclists of every level. The tour begins and ends at Darlington Park in Mahwah, and riders will enjoy some of Bergen County’s most scenic views while cycling.
More than 200  bikers are expected to ride and another 100 non-cyclists will participate in the day. The MM&B Bergen Bike Tour will also feature breakfast, a post-ride barbeque, music and prizes.  The event includes  a Kids’ Event sponsored by TD Bank, which features a ride for kids 10 and under, as well as entertainment, fire trucks, face painting, crafts and games.  Children are invited to bring their bikes, trikes, scooters and big wheels.
Registration for adults age 16 and up: $35 ($45 on site); youth age 10-16: $15; non-cyclists for picnic only: $5; children age 9 and under are free. Register online here!
The Bergen Bike Tour was created in 1995 as a fun way to bring people together and fund-raise for two area non-profit organizations aimed at helping Bergen residents in need.  Over the past 19 years, the tour has raised over $1 million  with funding going directly to the Volunteer Center of Bergen County and Tomorrows Children’s Fund, a nonprofit providing services to families affected by pediatric cancer and serious blood disorders.  This year, the MM&B Bergen Bike Tour has targeted $200,000  in fundraising efforts and hopes to meet that goal.      
Registration and Sponsorship Information:
  • Riders can pre-register in one of three ways - 1) Register online at; 2) Download and print a registration form at and submit by mail; 3) Call 1-877-BER-BIKE.   All registered riders are expected to raise $100 or more in pledges, or $200 per registered family, and  each will receive a free MM&B Bergen Bike Tour t-shirt. Participants are eligible to win prizes up to $1,000 in value
  • Sponsorship opportunities begin at $500.  Corporate sponsors at the level of $1,000 or more may register an unlimited number of employees at no extra charge
For further information about corporate sponsorship or about riding in the Bike Tour, call 877-BER-BIKE, visit the website at and “LIKE” us on Facebook.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

“Lunch and Learn” for Volunteer Managers

The Non Profit Training and Resource Center of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County will present a Volunteer Managers’ “Lunch and Learn” Roundtable on Thursday, September 25, 2014, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Volunteer Center’s office.
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 September 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.”

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chore Handyman Service Receives Grant from Provident Bank Foundation

The Provident Bank Foundation recently awarded a $5,000 grant to the Volunteer Center of Bergen County’s Chore Handyman Service, for its work in providing home repairs that keep senior citizen and disabled homeowners safe in their Bergen County homes.  The volunteer handypersons provide this service at no cost to the clients who live in every Bergen County town;  the only charge is for the parts necessary  in the repairs.

Thank you Provident Bank Foundation!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Remembeing 9-11 Through Service

As the 13th anniversary of September 11th draws closer, many people are wondering what they can do to commemorate the tragic events of that day.
The 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance is a coast-to-coast initiative that seeks to observe September 11th as a national day of service, charity and compassion. The 9/11 Day of Service encourages individuals, businesses, schools and other groups to perform acts of service to the community to honor the victims, family members, and survivors of the September 11th attacks on America, as well as the rescue and recovery workers and the thousands of volunteers who gave so much on and following that fateful day.  The goal is to use this day to commit to doing something good for someone else.
The Volunteer Center of Bergen County can help match individuals with opportunities to volunteer; we provide a multitude of choices at hundreds of community agencies.  A comprehensive data base of hundreds of volunteer jobs in and around Bergen County can be found at the Center’s website.
Volunteer Center of Bergen County can be of assistance to those who wish to organize their own projects.   Here are ideas of other simple ways to help:

  • Give blood
  • Donate children’s books to a Head Start center or library
  • Begin collecting money or toys for holiday giving programs
  • Pick up litter in a park or along a sidewalk or roadway
  • Pull weeds in a park or along a sidewalk
  • Paint over graffiti (ask the building owner first!)
  • Offer to run errands for someone who is frail or who is not feeling well
  • Write letters of support to our men and women in the military
  • Donate pet food to a pet shelter
  • Become a mentor to a child, teen or adult through the Volunteer Center’s Mentoring Programs
  • Make tray favors to be distributed to those who receive meals on wheels
  • Offer to sweep a sidewalk or do some gardening for someone who is infirm
  • Donate socks, underwear, and other new items of clothing to a shelter

“We encourage residents of all ages and abilities to mark this day of remembrance with acts of service, helping the less fortunate or a cause in which they are interested,” says Janet Sharma, Executive Director of the Volunteer Center.   “Monetary donations to worthy causes are also needed.  It’s all about recreating the spirit of unity and compassion that arose from the 9/11 tragedy. ”
For more information about the above activities, contact the Volunteer Center of Bergen County at (201) 489-9454.