Thursday, June 26, 2008

Welcome Bergen LEADS Class of 2009!

The Bergen LEADS Class of 2009 was introduced at a reception at Bergen Community College on June 18. All 30 class members were joined by members of the Bergen LEADS Advisory Panel, Selection Committee and Community Panel, as well as friends and well-wishers. Click here for a list of class members:

Pictured at right, William “Pat” Schuber, former Bergen County Executive and Bergen LEADS Seminar Director talks with Mary Connolly, LEADS Class of 2009 (Gilda’s Club) and Janet Sharma, executive director of the Volunteer Center.

Bergen LEADS is a new community leadership program designed to draw a diverse group of leaders from across Bergen County, then teach them about community issues, develop and strengthen their leadership skills and encourage them to give back to their communities.

The inaugural class will begin with an opening retreat on September 22 and continue until June 2009. For more information, visit our website at or call Amanda Missey at 201-489-9454 x119.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Companies Needed for Summer Food Drives for Children

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.
Companies are needed to host employee food drives during the summer to help these families. The Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council (BVC) 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.

In 2007, $15,085 worth of food and grocery gift cards was distributed through “Brown Bag Buddies”. The goal for 2008 is $20,000. The sponsors for this year’s drive are BD, Rockland Electric, Sealed Air and Compensation Solutions. Pictured here, BD employees Jennifer Farrington, Ellen Rafferty and Lisa Cohen collect kid-friendly food for "Brown Bag Buddies" which will run through August.

Companies can request a free information kit that describes the program and provides “how-to” instructions on running an employee food drive, by calling (201) 489-9454 Ext. 114 or email

The Volunteer Center goes Web 2.0

The Volunteer Center has entered a new age. Now you can add us to your Myspace friends or your Facebook page! See you on the web.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

"Reflections" take over Mentoring Programs

Volunteers and their mentees with our Volunteers in Protective Services (VIPS) and Mentoring Moms programs recently enjoyed a fabulous night of improvisational theatre dealing with issues that really hit home. Presented by "Reflections," a teen improvisational group that is run through the Bergen County Department of Human Services-Division of Family Guidance, the performance included true-to-life and thoroughly entertaining skits dealing with such issues as anger displacement, gossip, and communication (or the lack thereof) between parents and kids. Staci Block is director of the improv group, which engages student volunteer actors from all over Bergen County who creatively enacted situations that teens, parents and mentors could readily respond to.

Mentoring Moms Program Director, Cindy Andrake said, “It was funny, entertaining and educational for all in attendance. Everyone laughed some and learned a lot about themselves as well as their family.”

The Volunteer Center’s mentoring programs recruit, screen, train and supervise caring mentors for children who have been abused or neglected (VIPS) or for mothers who are overwhelmed and need some extra guidance and/or are moving from welfare to work (Mentoring Moms).