Monday, March 31, 2014

National Volunteer Week is April 6 - 12

The 2014 National Volunteer Week is April 6-12.  This year’s theme, “Celebrate Service” is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. The week calls on every citizen to do his or her part to sustain the growing spirit of service to the community, whether by committing hours or dollars to the cause.

National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging individuals and groups in the community to be at the center of social change—discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to make a difference.  Established in 1974, the week has grown exponentially each subsequent year, with literally thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout.
Volunteering – performing a service of one’s own free will, without pay – is the hallmark of a healthy, active society. Whether it is done through a school, religious, governmental or social organization (or less formally through the concept of “neighboring”), volunteers address a wide range of problems.
People who volunteer feel an increased sense of pride, satisfaction and accomplishment by making a positive difference in their community. And, when people share their time and talents, they solve problems, strengthen communities, improve lives, and connect to others.
Volunteer service has a dramatic positive impact on the economy.  The estimated dollar value of a volunteer’s time is $22.14 per hour (; the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) estimates that volunteers donate an average of 8 billion hours yearly—equivalent to more than $171 billion in contributed service!   
Over the past two decades there has been a growing body of research that indicates volunteering provides real health benefits to individuals who volunteer, as well as social and workplace benefits.
A 2013 review, published in BMC Public Health, found that helping others on a regular basis—like serving food in a soup kitchen or reading to the blind—can reduce early mortality rates by 22%, compared to rates in people who don’t participate in volunteer activities.  The review also revealed that volunteers benefit from reduced rates of depression and an increased sense of life satisfaction and well-being—doing good, it seems, made them feel good. Other benefits include lower risk of dementia from  increased social contact and reduced loneliness.
In its 2013 Health and Volunteering Study, UnitedHealth Group looked at its own employee volunteers and the impact their employee volunteer program had, not only on the communities they serve, but on their employees’ health and the overall the health of the company.  Employers directly see the benefits of physically and mentally healthier employees; healthier employees drive down the cost of health and promote higher productivity. Employees who volunteer bring more refined job skills to the workplace— effective time management and strong people and teamwork skills. Volunteering with colleagues creates stronger, more collaborative relationships which add value in any work setting. Goodwill is generated in a company that offers volunteer programs in the workplace, and this drives positive results directly to the bottom line.
Volunteering also has social rewards. College graduates or business people looking for new opportunities can volunteer in the community and meet new people, some of whom may be influential community leaders.  Volunteering helps to retain and sharpen old skills as well as develop new ones. 
For those thinking of a career change, volunteering is a perfect way to explore new fields.  Volunteering can be energizing and renewing, especially when it involves a personal interest or hobby.  The fulfillment derived from knowing that one is doing good and being involved in the community can relieve tensions and give different perspectives on old situations.  Strategic thinking, change management and conflict resolution skills can be learned by working in a volunteer setting.   Volunteering can create leaders.
The Volunteer Center of Bergen County can help match individuals with opportunities to volunteer.  The Volunteer Center provides a multitude of choices at hundreds of community agencies.  The Center can provide individual volunteer opportunities, group and at-home project ideas, as well as information for students and youth groups interested in volunteering - particularly helpful to those seeking to fulfill community service requirements. 
For a family-friendly volunteer option, the Volunteer Center will present a Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, April 12.  The event will be held at Bergen Community College, Paramus, on the MEVO site (Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization); families will be needed to prepare soil, build raised beds and spread mulch to get this 1-acre farm ready for planting. Go to for more information.
During Volunteer Week, The Center’s Business Volunteer Connect will present All in a Day’s Work, a county-wide week of service for volunteers from businesses large and small.  There will be dozens of projects from which to choose—from landscaping and painting, to client interaction with seniors and children.  Visit for more information
In addition to recruiting volunteers for more than 300 local non-profits, the Volunteer Center also has three programs which utilize volunteers.  The Chore Service uses volunteers to perform minor home repairs to keep senior citizens and disabled homeowners safe in their own homes.  Its two mentoring programs, Mentoring Moms and Mentoring Youth, train and supervise adult mentors for overwhelmed moms and for children with social, emotional and behavioral challenges.  Training for Mentoring Moms begins Monday, April 7 and for Mentoring Youth on Wednesday, April 30.   Registration for either program can be made by calling 201-489-9454
For further information about all of the Volunteer Center’s programs and becoming a volunteer, call the Center at (201) 489-9454, or visit its website at and search the online database for the most current information and volunteer positions.  The Center also publishes an annual Guide to Volunteering, a comprehensive directory listing hundreds of volunteer positions.
Do Good.  Feel Good.  Volunteer!
The Volunteer Center of Bergen County strengthens the community by connecting people through service and developing civic leaders.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Business Volunteer Connect After Hours Networking Event Volunteer Connect will host an after-hours networking event, sponsored by Jack Daniels Motors and TD Bank, on Wednesday, April 23rd from 6 - 8 pm.  The event will be held at Jack Daniels Audi, 243 Route 17S, Upper Saddle River.  Community relations professionals are invited to network with others who are interested in enhancing or creating an employee engagement program.  Guests may register at or contact Ellen Lutvak at 201-489-9454 x133 or  Deadline to register is April 16.
Business Volunteer Connect, a program of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, provides consultation to companies on everything connected to employee volunteering and community engagement.  Services include customized volunteer projects, guidance and expertise on employee volunteer program management, assistance with skills-based volunteering and participation in several annual volunteer initiatives.
Guests will also learn about the Business Volunteer Council (BVC), a dues-supported membership organization open to any employer with operations in the tri-state area.  It is a vital component of the Volunteer Center’s network of services for employee engagement professionals.  With a heightened emphasis on providing opportunities for networking, professional development and sharing of best practices, the BVC continues to provide leadership in meeting community needs through employee volunteerism.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Local boys and girls are looking for heroes.

 These children have been referred to the Volunteer Center of Bergen County’s Mentoring Youth program.  For more than 30 years, this program has trained and supervised adult volunteers to serve as mentors to children age 5 to 18, who are confronting adverse challenges (social, emotional and behavioral) at home and in life..  Mentors serve as positive role models, providing guidance, friendship and support, and advocate on behalf of children when necessary. 
The next Mentoring Youth volunteer training program begins on Wednesday, April 30.  Training is held on four consecutive Wednesdays from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm at the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, 64 Passaic Street in Hackensack.
“The men and women in the Mentoring Youth Program improve the lives and experiences of children who need someone they can trust; someone to show them they are not alone,” says Janet Sharma, Volunteer Center Executive Director.  “There is an
ongoing need for men to mentor boys and an especially critical need for bi-lingual, Spanish speaking men and women to accommodate the growing number of Spanish speaking families entering the Mentoring Youth program.
“These children are waiting for someone to step in and believe in them; to encourage them to laugh and succeed,” says Dr. Faith Samples-Smart, Mentoring Youth Program Director.  “We consider time spent with mentors as free time: free of the challenges children confront in their daily environments at home and/or at school.  What a gift to have this respite and safe zone with a caring adult."
Mentoring Youth volunteer training is provided at no charge and covers such topics as the benefits of mentoring for volunteers and children; child and adolescent development; understanding child maltreatment; effective listening and communication skills; building rapport and developing strong mentoring relationships; the role of the mentor; and the matching and closure process.  Applicants are required to undergo a comprehensive background check and must submit written letters of recommendation as part of the training course.
For more information about the Mentoring Youth program, contact Francine Kaplan, Program Assistant at (201) 489-9474, or visit and click on mentoring programs.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Special Evening for Special Volunteers

Tickets are still available for Celebrate Volunteers, a festive, fun and non-competitive volunteer recognition event, hosted by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. On Thursday, April 3, the men, women and young people who give their time to help others will be honored at Bergen Community College in the Moses Meeting and Training Center, 400 Paramus Road in Paramus.   The evening begins with a 6:00 pm dessert reception, followed by an inspirational program at 7:15 pm.
Non-profit and government agencies – including libraries, hospitals, senior centers, schools, religious organizations and municipalities – as well as businesses and corporations, are invited to bring volunteers to whom they want to give a public pat on the back.
This event is a great way for organizations to honor their volunteers,” explains Janet Sharma, the Volunteer Center’s executive director.  “Celebrate Volunteers will inspire us all.”
This year, agency and corporate volunteer managers will participate in the celebration by sharing stories that highlight the accomplishments of their volunteers.  TD Bank, one of Bergen County’s most outstanding corporate citizens, will provide an overview of their community involvement efforts.  Pascack Valley Meals on Wheels will highlight some of its programs, especially those that showcase the vital role of volunteers. The evening will include a photo montage of volunteers from local agencies, hard at work to make the community better. 
Every volunteer at Celebrate Volunteers will receive a special gift and certificate of commendation.  The venue allows groups to sit together to enjoy refreshments and festivities in a comfortable and intimate setting.    Reservations are on a first come, first served basis, and can be made by reserving online or calling (201) 489-9454 x118.   The cost is $ 10.00 per person.
Synetek Solutions and TD Bank are Gold Star Sponsors of Celebrate Volunteers. Additional sponsors include Inserra Shop Rite Supermarkets, and  iBid.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Volunteer Center Awarded $3.785 Million for Sandy Recovery Program

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County has been awarded a $3.785 million contract by the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders to administer the Sandy Homeowner/Renter Assistance Program (SHRAP), a temporary relief program to assist individuals and families experiencing a housing crisis resulting from Superstorm Sandy.
The Volunteer Center coordinates the Bergen County VOAD (Voluntary Organizations active in Disaster), which established a Long Term Recovery project in Moonachie that has to date provided assistance to hundreds of Bergen County residents impacted by the storm.
SHRAP provides up to $15,000 for mortgage, rent and utility payments over a period of six months to individuals and families with Sandy-related expenses and also covers costs for certain essential household items. Details about the program can be found at
“We are pleased to be able to provide this service,” says Janet Sharma, executive director of the Volunteer Center and chair of the VOAD.  “Even this long after Superstorm Sandy, many residents are still struggling.  SHRAP will be able to help many in their recovery efforts.”
In addition to the SHRAP funds, the VOAD has received nearly $2 million in grants from such private sources as the Robin Hood Foundation, Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, Red Cross, Points of Light and several local and faith-based organizations.  Most of those funds have been allocated to assist residents with rebuilding and other unmet needs.
To make an appointment to apply for SHRAP, call the Hurricane Sandy Recovery Information Center in Moonachie at (201) 906-6738.

Friday, March 14, 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, March 20, 2014, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Volunteer Center’s offices at 64 Passaic Street in Hackensack.
The Roundtables are free for Volunteer Center agency members; non-agency members must pay $10, but all attendees must be pre-registered to attend. To RSVP and to find out how to become a Volunteer Center Agency member, call 201-489-9454 Ext. 118 or e-mail by March 14th.
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.”

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Emerson Teen Finishes His Eagle Scout Award

Samir Wadhwani, Eagle Scout candidate in Emerson Troop 67, has been collecting reusable water bottles for Children’s Hope Prayas, a small elementary school in Katpulti Colony, India, a village rife with poverty and remarkably unsanitary conditions.
Samir has been working with the principal of this school to supply 500 water bottles that allow the kids clean containers to drink from.  Samir approached schools, businesses, churches and temples throughout our community to help him reach this ambitious goal.  His project was to bring what he considers a small bit of support to a group of children living in very difficult conditions.  The Volunteer Center was pleased to help Samir in his outreach.
Eagle Scout is the highest level of service and achievement in the Boy Scouts.  Samir has worked throughout his years of scouting to attain this prestigious recognition.  Samir is committed to continue serving others.  “Service is a lifetime commitment which I will always honor.”
If you are looking for an Eagle Scout project or need help getting in touch with agencies that need help, please call the Volunteer Center of Bergen County at 201-489-9454.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Visiting Homemakers Offers New Service For People With Alzheimer’s Disease!

Visiting Homemaker Home Heath Aide Service is pleased to announce that the Certified Home Health Aides have completed intensive training to work with people with Alzheimer's disease and related conditions. The aides are certified by the NJ Board of Nursing; the Alzheimer's training is approved by the Home Care Council of NJ. The aides are equipped to help with the unique emotional, cognitive and physical needs of the Alzheimer's patient.
 For information on expert home care call: 201-488-0041 or visit