Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Not Your Average Teenager

Jesse Mautner is not your average high school student. While he’s a sophomore at Pascack Hills High School, is a member of the Italian Club and of the school’s baseball team, what sets Jesse apart is his dedication to helping others – and the real steps he is taking to make a difference.

Every week he volunteers with The Bouncers, a local basketball team made up of special needs athletes who participate in the Special Olympics. He also volunteers with the Bergen County Charity Classic, a baseball tournament that annually raises funds for charities and foundations for families associated with youth sports who have faced tragedy or illness.

As if all that was not enough, Jesse also researches, writes, designs and publishes a newsletter exclusively for kids being mentored through the Volunteer Center of Bergen County’s Volunteers in Protective Services (VIPS) program. A goal of VIPS is to help kids, who have suffered abuse, neglect or isolation, see and take steps to achieve a brighter future. Jesse selects topics and provides news, factoids, graphics, and fun notes to help pique interest and spark conversation between the mentors and the kids: sports, politics, movies, coming events, and – as a concession to the girls – even an article about the American Girl Doll.

“Writing the newsletter each month gives me a chance to use my skills to help improve the lives of other people,” says Jesse. “I like the fact that what I am doing can make a difference. When you do these things you become a better person and leave an impact on others. With the basketball, I am able to teach other people the skills that I have in sports. I love to see how happy they are when they learn a new skill and are able to use it.”

Monday, March 29, 2010

Leaders Gather for Leaders of Bergen Reception

More than 60 people attended a reception hosted by Bergen LEADS at the Hilton in Woodcliff Lake. Guests included members of the current class, as well as alumni, supporters and prospective applicants for the Class of 2011. The reception was sponsored by TD Bank and the Hilton Woodcliff Lake.

After an hour of networking over hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, Janet Sharma, the executive director of the Volunteer Center, welcomed all to the event. David Warshaw, the chair of the Bergen LEADS Advisory Panel, introduced several members of the inaugural Class of 2009 and the Class of 2010, as well as Advisory Panel members and Volunteer Center board members.

Bishop CV Singletary, member of the Class of 2010, chaplain at Bergen Regional Medical Center and scholarship recipient, spoke about his experience in the program and encouraged attendees and funders to support the scholarship fund.

Mike Stern, member of the Class of 2009 and co-chair of Alumni of Bergen LEADS (ABL), spoke about the creation and growth of the alumni organization. ABL was actually formed by a class project team; its mission statement reads: Graduates of Bergen LEADS organized for the purposes of maintaining and further developing relationships among alumni, serving the community of Bergen County, continuing to learn about the needs and resources of Bergen County and influencing public policy.

Mike encourage the current class to remain involved through participation in ABL - as he said: “There is life after Bergen LEADS; it doesn’t end at graduation.”

Lynne Algrant, Bergen LEADS Seminar Co-director and leadership consultant, spoke about what the program has done for her personally, connecting her to right people after she moved to Englewood four years ago. Lynne briefly described some of the activities and benefits of participating in Bergen LEADS.

Amanda Missey, Bergen LEADS Director, wrapped up with an explanation of the application and selection process and tuition assistance. She emphasized that applications must be postmarked by due April 2, 2010.

For those who have been associated with Bergen LEADS, the evening was one more opportunity to catch up with old friends and perhaps discuss a couple of hot topics. For those who are considering making application to the program, it was a fine introduction to the stimulating atmosphere and warm camaraderie that is becoming a hallmark of Bergen LEADS.

To learn more about Bergen LEADS, please visit our website or contact Amanda Missey at

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tickets are Still Available

Tickets are still available for “Celebrate Volunteers," a festive, fun and non-competitive event, hosted by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County to recognize those who give so much to our community. Tuesday, April 13 is the date, and John Grieco Auditorium at Bergen Academies, in Hackensack, is the place when volunteers of a broad range of ages and stages -- men, women and youth -- will given a public pat on the back. The evening begins with a dessert reception at 6:30 pm., with an inspirational program following at 7:15 pm.

Non-profit and government agencies, including libraries, hospitals, senior centers, schools, religious organizations and municipalities, are invited to bring up to 12 volunteers they want to honor.

Music, entertainment and a dramatic photomontage of volunteers engaged in vital community work will highlight the program, with Brenda Blackmon, My9-TV, serving as Master of Ceremonies. Every volunteer will receive a special gift and certificates of commendation, and will be individually recognized during the program. Call (201) 489-9454 or email to make a reservation. The cost is $10.00 per person.

Celebrate Volunteers” is sponsored by Inserra Supermarkets; (201) Magazine, Bergen County’s United Way; Dessault Falcon Jet; Lakeland Bank and TD Bank.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kick Yourself in the Brand!

Non-profit professionals are invited to attend a seminar entitled Kick Yourself in the Brand: The Shameless Art of Promoting Your Cause on Friday, April 9, 2010. Sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, the program will take place from 12 noon to 3:00 pm at CareOne at the Cupola, 100 W. Ridgewood Avenue, Paramus.

The course leader is award-winning news director and media advisor Susan Young. She will present an informative, fast-paced, entertaining and interactive workshop, designed for non-profit agencies of all sizes and budgets. The program will provide proven strategies and tips on how to become more visible and influential with donors, business partners and the community. Topics include: how to develop an organization's brand; the #1 way to develop unshakable self-confidence, and; secrets to proactive networking and communication.

The $35 registration fee for Kick Yourself in the Brand includes lunch and all course materials. Participants from Volunteer Center Member Agencies pay only $25. Pre-registration and pre-payment are required; directions and parking information will be sent when payment is received. The deadline for registration is April 5, 2010. For more information or to register, e-mail, or call (201) 489-9454, ext.114.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Volunteer Center Celebrates the Running of the Roses

Spring is just around the corner, and that means it's time for Derby Day! Dust off your most fabulous hat, and get out your dapper necktie - the Volunteer Center's 18th Annual Derby Day party is set for Saturday, May 1st from 4:00 - 7:00 pm. We are pleased to announce a new venue and a new caterer this year - the beautiful White Beeches Country Club in Haworth. Guests will enjoy delicious southern fare, mint juleps, a wine tasting, caricaturist "Silly Pencil", live music from bluegrass band "Risky Business", an exciting live and silent auction, and of course, the Kentucky Derby! Please join us for this fun, festive afternoon, with proceeds benefiting the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.

To find out more, please visit our Derby Day website where you can view photos and preview some of the wonderful auction items that will be available. Tickets are $100 per person and can be purchased online or you can make reservations by phone at 201-489-9454.

Derby Day is sponsored by The Reader's Digest Association, TD Bank, Compensation Solutions,, Inserra Supermarkets, PNC Bank, PSE&G, 201, Bergen Health & Life and numerous benefactors of the Volunteer Center. For information about corporate sponsorships, please call 201-489-9454, ext. 125 or email See you at the Derby!

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

How do you celebrate reading?

Seven companies and 45 volunteers fanned out across Bergen County on March 2, which was "Read Across America Day,” reading to children at area Head Start programs. The companies, all of which are members of the Northern New Jersey Business Council, included United Water, sigma Group and TD Bank (pictures below).

Read Across America Day coincides annually with Suess’s birthday, March 2, and encourages motivation and awareness about reading. The program was designed to make every child in every community celebrate reading.

For more information about Read Across America Day or about how companies can get involved in initiatives that help children and families through the BVC click here.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

2010 Guide to Volunteering now available!

The Volunteer Center's updated Guide to Volunteering is now available. The 2010 Guide lists nearly 350 nonprofit agencies and more than 1,100 opportunities for volunteers of all ages to get involved in the community.

The guide offers tips on how groups can organize their own volunteer projects, how to host a collection drive, ideas for family volunteering and lots of information about student volunteer projects, including listings of exciting websites about youth volunteering and service learning. The Guide features an extensive index cross-referenced by interests, geographic location and time availability. You can also find the Guide indexed by volunteer positions suitable for high school students, students under age 14, and families who want to volunteer together.

You can purchase the Guide ($5) online on our website or you can download a free copy right to your own computer. If you have any volunteer related (what does this mean) questions please call the Volunteer Center, 201-489-9454.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Company With A Conscience

Ridgewood resident and Volunteer Center Board Member Mike Stern is also the owner of Kreisler Industrial Corporation, which manufacturers precision metal components for aircraft engines. Employees at the company, which is headquartered in Elmwood Park, recently donated $1,240 to the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. Funds were raised during a holiday project that included awarding one of Kreisler’s vans, no longer needed for the delivery of products to customers, to one of its employees.

“All of us at Kreisler are committed to making the community a better place to live and work,” says Mr. Stern. “Through the years, we have sponsored drives for coats, food, holiday gifts, and relief for Haiti. We chose the Volunteer Center as the recipient of this most recent fundraiser, because I had become familiar with their good work in the community when I participated in their leadership development program, Bergen LEADS, last year.”

For more information on how a company can help address humanitarian needs in the local community, contact the Volunteer Center of Bergen County (201) 489-9454, or visit

Monday, March 1, 2010

Be a part of something BIG!

The Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council (BVC) is seeking companies to participate in Books in a Bag, an annual initiative to collect new children's books for pre-school children of low-income families. The kick off is March 2 - which is also Read Across America Day - and lasts through the end of April.

Books in a Bag promotes early-childhood literacy. Studies have shown that for every dollar spent helping children learn to read, $7 is saved in future remedial instruction. Often, children in low-income families grow up without books because food and shelter are the main priority. A home environment rich in books and inhabited by people who love to read is an early indicator for a child's future success in the classroom - and in life!

The BVC partners with Head Start, a federally-funded early childhood education program for very low-income families, to ensure that the children have a chance to read and succeed. Employee volunteers collect, sort, bag and deliver the books, and often remain in the classroom to read to the children. Since 2000, the BVC has given more than 13,000 children five brand-new, age-appropriate books to take home and keep.

The BVC engages area companies and their employees in activities that help low income families. Companies pay annual dues based on the size of their employee pool, but companies not currently members of the BVC are welcome to participate in Books in a Bag. A low fee of $25 provides a complete "how-to" packet to guide you through every facet of organizing a Books in a Bag drive. Contact Amanda Missey, BVC Manager, at 201-489-9454, ext.119 or to get started today.