Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bergen County Golf Classic - Monday, July 12

Excitement is running high for the 2010 Bergen County Golf Classic. PSE&G is returning as our presenting sponsor, and we are quickly signing additional sponsors. Many sponsorships include a foursome and other perks.

Part of the excitement is that The Ridgewood Country Club, in Paramus, will once again host The Barclay's, a major PGA event, in August, so the course promises to be even more challenging than usual.

For information about sponsorships, please visit our website, call Amanda Missey at 201-489-9454, ext. 119, or email her at

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Companies Needed to Fight Summer Hunger Pangs

Every school day, 18 million kids have a nutritious meal thanks to the free and reduced-cost school lunch program. But the summer is a different story. Only a fraction of those kids receive meals from the summer lunch program, mainly because their communities don’t offer it.

Companies are needed to help. This summer, the Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council (BVC) will again be calling on local businesses to host a Brown Bag Buddies food drive, collecting nutritious, kid-friendly food to be distributed through local food pantries. This year, the BVC’s goal is to collect and distribute 10,000 pounds of food from June through August.

In honor of Hunger Awareness Day, the BVC will host a childhood hunger information session and Brown Bag Buddies “how-to” at the upcoming Open House hosted by Hudson City Savings Bank. Since the program was created 10 years ago, Brown Bag Buddies has generated over $220,000 in food, but this year the program has been updated thanks to the efforts of BVC member company BD.

Brown Bag Buddies is made possible through the support of its sponsors:

Please join us for this important event on Tuesday, June 1st from 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM at Hudson City Savings Bank, 50 East Palisade Avenue, Englewood. The Open House is free but pre-registration is required. To RSVP, contact Tess Tomasi at (201) 489-9454 ext. 114 or

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It’s Raining Men!

Well, not really. But if it were, we’d hope to recruit a bunch of them to help in several of our programs.

This in no way diminishes the outstanding commitment of many men -- and women --who are already involved. It just means that more men are needed and welcome!

Why we want men:
At any given time our Volunteers in Protective Services (VIPS) program mentors 100 youth. Our current pool of mentors includes 66 women and 34 men, but we have 65 boys on our waiting list for mentors. Many have been referred to us because they need a male role model, and we want to match them with a male mentor.

In case there's any hesitation out there, I want to emphasize that it’s easy to be a mentor!
• We provide comprehensive training and screening,
• Our outstanding professional staff provides ongoing support and supervision to every mentor.
• Mentors pick from the kids on the waiting list the one they want to mentor, usually based on background, geographic location and interests – sports, music, outdoor activities, etc.
• Mentors meet with the youth they are mentoring at mutually agreeable times.
• We offer a variety of activities, such as holiday parties, trips to the Bronx zoo, and tickets to professional baseball, basketball and soccer games.

One mentor, writer Tim Harper, says he knows why more men don’t want to be a mentor. “I think they think it’s hard, or that they will fail.” But Harper found it easy and fun. He mentored a young boy for several years, doing fun things like teaching him how to ride a bike or taking him along on hikes with his own family.

Another fellow, the 11-year-old son of a friend, recently provided further insight. I was describing an ambitious home improvement project my husband was undertaking that I thought was too ambitious. Under his breath the boy commented, “You know us guys -- it’s hard for us to give up our pride.”

A couple of years ago I saw a great ad produced by the Ad Council. It showed a boy and a young man looking at a huge abstract painting. The boy asked “Do you know what it means?” The young man answered, “No.” And then a halo appeared over his head. It so perfectly illustrated how easy it is to be a mentor. Just be yourself!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks information about volunteering, of the 63-million-plus adults who volunteered in 2009, 58% are women and 42% are men, so that fact that men are in short supply as volunteers is not unique. But we want to do everything we can to reverse this trend and make men as welcome as possible!

For information about being a mentor — or about volunteering in any of our programs, give us a call at 201-489-9454 or visit us online at

P.S. We need women too!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Derby Day Fun

The band was playing, the drinks were flowing and the energy was buzzing as 225 guests spent a fantastic afternoon at the Volunteer Center’s 18th annual Derby Day Party. Held at White Beeches Country Club in Haworth, this year's Derby Day party raised more than $26,000 for the Volunteer Center's programs and services in the community.

The event featured silent and live auctions of fabulous items such as a 46" Sony TV, trips, jewelry, and much more. MC Dave Dubin and auctioneer Bill Diana led the festivities and encouraged enthusiastic bidding, and everyone cheered as "Super Saver" won the Run for the Roses.

Former “Most Elegant Hat” winner Holly Wiederecht and Haworth Mayor John DeRienzo served as judges for our annual hat and tie contests. Winner of "Most Elegant Hat" was Vicki Carr and "Most Outrageous Tie" was three-time winner, Anthony Barbara.

See all the fun from the event and download your very own photo from Derby Day at Password is "Volunteer". Prints can be purchased at a 10% discount by entering the code "GENOPHOTO 10" when checking out.

Thanks to all who attended and to our generous corporate sponsors: Reader's Digest Association, TD Bank, Compensation Solutions, GTL Properties, Inserra Supermarkets, PNC Bank, PSE&G, 201 Magazine and Bergen Health & Life.

Mark your calendar: Next year's Derby Day party is May 7th!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Governor Tom Kean to Moderate Community Forum

On Tuesday, June 22, the 2010 Bergen LEADS class will present a Public Forum on the Future of Local Government. We are honored to welcome former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean who will moderate the forum.

The forum is open to the public and will be held at Bergen Community College from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. There is no charge to attend, but pre-registration is required. To register, e-mail or call 201-489-9454 x119; deadline for registration is June 18, 2010.

The County's premier civic leadership program, Bergen LEADS features have been meeting monthly seminars during which the 30 class members dissect issues, debate viewpoints and gain first-hand understanding of how Bergen County works. Former Bergen County Executive William "Pat" Schuber is seminar director, guiding discussion of such topics of critical importance as healthcare, education, economic development, the environment, government, public safety and diversity. Shared services and regionalization are recurrent themes in every issue explored.

Drawing on knowledge and experience gained throughout the year, Bergen LEADS class members will present three points of view answering the question “How can government best provide the appropriate level of needed services to residents in a time of very limited resources?" The perspectives include 1) Eliminate County government and let municipalities provide services; 2) Eliminate municipal government and let the County provide services; 3) Keep the status quo, with County and municipal governments providing services, but make service delivery efficient and cost-effective.

Bergen LEADS is sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County; sponsors of the Forum are TD Bank and TD Bank and the law firm of Cole, Schotz, Meisel, Forman & Leonard in Hackensack.

For further information about the Forum or about Bergen LEADS, contact Amanda Missey, Bergen LEADS Director, at 201-489-9454 x119 or

Friday, May 14, 2010

Volunteers Help Shut-Ins

Phoning Elderly and Lonely (PEAL) is an initiative of our Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) that links volunteers who are eager to provide friendly phone calls with others who are isolated in their homes.

“Usually those who are being called are shut-ins and are unable to get out because of illness or disability,” says Barbara Wiederecht, RSVP Program Director. “But sometimes the caller is also a shut-in and is glad to make calls to others who are isolated and lonely. PEAL benefits people on both sides.”

PEAL is currently seeking both volunteers to make calls and people who would like to receive a regular phone call. For information, call Barbara at 201-489-9333.

Here is a success story from the program:

Dorothy, a PEAL client in Elmwood Park, recently sent us an email about her caller, Pat:

Whenever she calls it is a gift from God. She is the most wonderful listener and has such grace that I know Pat was chosen to be here for me. She is the most delightful and sincere person ever – she makes my life so lovely.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fundamentals of Grant Writing

Fundamentals of Grant Writing, our next timely and topical training, will be presented on Thursday, May 20, from 9:30 am to noon at the Volunteer Center in Hackensack. The fee is $35 and includes refreshments and course materials.

Approximately $35 billion is awarded in foundation grants annually. However, the significant declines in the stock market are resulting in increased competition for limited foundation dollars.

“Funders will be taking a closer look at where and how they award grants,” says Janet Sharma, Executive Director of the Volunteer Center. “Nonprofits will need to pay close attention to guidelines and develop dynamic proposals in order to be competitive.”

This workshop is beginning level and includes an introduction to foundation research and grant writing. Participants will learn to navigate tricky grant guidelines and organize information into clear, concise proposals.

Fundamentals of Grant Writing is part of a series designed specifically by the Volunteer Center's Nonprofit Training and Resource Center for staff and volunteers in non-profit agencies. The workshop is highly interactive and hands-on, providing both an enjoyable and meaningful learning experience.

Pre-registration and pre-payment of the $35 fee is required; the deadline for registration is May 17th. For more information or to register click here or e-mail, or call (201) 489-9454, ext.114.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Plan Ahead ...Make A Lasting Gift

It's never too early to plan ahead, and this applies to planning bequests and wills as well as to all facets of life.

The Volunteer Center encourages every adult, of every age, to have a will so that their plans can be carried out as they wish. And we encourage those who value the work of the Volunteer Center to remember us in your will.

"When I was younger, I was very intimidated by the thought of growing old and making a will," says Janet Sharma, VC executive director. "However, now that I'm in my 60s, the thought of planning a gift to the Volunteer Center — which will be my legacy — is very positive and not at all intimidating."

If you'd like assistance in developing language or setting up an instrument for a planned gift, please call Mrs. Sharma, at 201-489-9454, ext. 116, or email

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hats Off to Teen Volunteer!

What happens when you challenge a creative and impassioned teen to develop activities to help children in need?

David Engle, a teen from Glen Rock, NJ, rose to the challenge, when he started Carnivals for Children on Wheels. This unique program brings free carnivals to children who are underprivileged, homeless, and/or mentally or physically challenged. These events are completely free for all who attend. At the carnivals the children experience games, prizes, a clown, a magician, tattooing, and inflatable games (moonwalk, slide, obstacle course), cotton candy and many more exciting activities.

The carnivals are run by volunteers, most of whom are high school students, and they do just about everything: run the carnival games and prize booth, act as the mascot, set up the event and fundraise for the future carnivals. Volunteers also help to plan events and to create new carnival games and fundraising ideas.

"The summer before 9th grade I volunteered at an amazing therapeutic horse back riding facility called Pony Power of NJ,” says David Engle. “Once I volunteered there I realized that I had to give more of myself to help other people. I also knew that I was capable of running carnivals since I had run them with my father at our temple for many years. So I had the inspiration one day to combine my love for carnivals with helping other people, and that is how Carnivals for Children on Wheels grew to what it is today."

Now Carnivals for Children on Wheels has over 100 registered volunteers and is funded solely by generous, private donations. The organization has run events for such groups as The Paterson Boys and Girls Club, Camp Acorn and Camp Lots of Fun, a program for children of homeless families in Bergen County. Teen volunteers are welcome! The Carnivals are a great place to volunteer, says David, because you see so many happy children going home with arms full of prizes and faces full of smiles.

For information and other ideas about teens volunteering, check out (click on BergenVolunTEENS) or call 201-489-9454.