Thursday, December 10, 2015

FREE WEBINAR - Cause Marketing: How Businesses and Organizations Can Successfully Support Social Change

Expert Exchange Series
Wednesday, December 16   
1:00 - 2:00 PM 
Bergen Volunteer Center is offering a variety of free live webinars on various topics. These one-hour online sessions are for anyone who wants to continually learn or get more information on a topic. While they are FREE, you do need to register to participate. Register here.

Our next session will be on Cause Marketing and on Wednesday, December 16 at 1:00 pm. 

What is Cause Marketing?
We have known for a long time that when price and quality are the same, consumers will choose a product or service that is doing something extra for a good cause, whether that's just giving a percentage of the purchase price back to charity or making major investments in implementing social change. What is the best way for your non-profit or small business to go about cause-marketing? The most important thing is finding the right partner.  

This webinar will discuss:
  • What cause-marketing is
  • Who benefits from cause-marketing
  • How to find the right partner
  • How to build a long-term relationship with partners

If you would like an expert to guide you, then be sure to sign up for the next webinar in our FREE series: What Is Cause Marketing? Expert Mary G. Connolly is a consultant with three decades of experience in advertising, marketing, new business development, fundraising and non-profit executive experience; she is the creator of the Gilda's Run 15K and the Teterboro Airport 5K. Ms. Connolly also developed a Cause Marketing class for NYU's Center for Philanthropy and is a graduate of our own Bergen LEADS leadership program. 

Make your dollars work for you while you support your community! Sign up for the free webinar here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Catch the Kindness Bug

Did you know that kindness is contagious?

You know that warm and fuzzy feeling you get upon seeing someone perform an act of kindness? According to studies, this natural high makes people want to behave more altruistically towards others.

If kindness is quite literally contagious, what can we do ensure it spreads far and wide?

Areyvut, a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading the values of chesed (kindness), tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (social justice), has produced a

2016 A Kindness a Day calendar, a tool that will encourage acts of kindness every day of the year.

A Kindness a Day is not a standard monthly calendar. It is a flip calendar that includes daily suggestions as to how you can incorporate the core Jewish values of chesed, tzedakah and tikkun olam into your everyday life. The calendar acts as an educational tool as well - each action item corresponds with a source derived from a Jewish text, offering a daily connection to our heritage and tradition.

This calendar accomplishes two goals: it empowers its readers to take an active role in strengthening relationships with others and educates them on Jewish text and tradition.

To purchase the calendar, visit

Use discount code kindness to receive 10% off your order This code expires on December 15, 2015.

We want to share our calendar with you so that its impact can spread far and wide.

If you know of anyone who might be interested in the A Kindness a Day calendar, please connect them with us or forward this email!

To learn more about Areyvut and our programs, visit, email or call 201-244-6702

Thank you for helping us spread kindness across the world. 

Happy Chanukah to you and your family!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thank You Business Volunteer Council!

On behalf of the Bergen Volunteer Center, Thank You to our amazing Business Volunteer Council members for their dedication to supporting Bergen County families, by planting and harvesting produce at MEVO for Brown Bag Buddies!

With our collected efforts we harvested 94lbs of food!

11lbs eggplant
3lbs lemon basil
13lbs Ground cherries
52lbs tomatoes
15lbs Peppers

To date, through Brown Bag Buddies, we have collected over 7500lb of food and distributed copies of Healthy Eating on a Budget to 1000 families through the Center for Food Action, planted and harvested 94lbs of organic produce through MEVO (more to come!), and funded  the Volunteer Center Seeds of Change scholarship for a 14- year old student, with limited financial and emotional support, to receive a paid internship on MEVO’s Mahwah farm. As a result, he will have an opportunity to gain vocational skills while learning about agriculture and sustainability.

The impact you have made for this young man and so many families surviving food insecurity, are far reaching. You might not ever meet these families or hear their stories, but presumably one of them will read Eating Healthy on a Budget and make healthier choices for their family. And we might not know for several years how this scholarship will affect this young man, but we may find it inspires him to be the next leader in global sustainability or at the very least, provide him a lucrative career that alters his economic circumstances. But it is because of YOU, that they has been given the opportunity. Every one of you played a role in changing a life. And hopefully, through this experience it has changed yours too.

Eric (MEVO) and Jim (CFA), driven by their passion, work incredibly hard to carry out their important missions and I know they are grateful for your involvement.

Click here for a link to the Business Volunteer Council Facebook page, with a few pictures from yesterday’s event. Please be sure to like us!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Young Woman's Journey into the Non Profit World

By Emily Reers
 On the first day of my first internship within the non-profit sector, I knew that this was where I belonged. Throughout high school, I actively participated in a variety of community service projects and absolutely loved it. When I toured Providence College, during the spring of my junior year, and heard about their Public and Community Service Studies major I realized that my passion for service could one day translate into a career. Providence College instantly became my number one school. Thankfully I got in and immediately declared Public and Community Service Studies as my major.

The summer after my freshman year, I got my first official taste of working in the non-profit world as an intern for the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. I learned a great deal about the non-profit sector over the course of this summer. First off, I learned about how a non-profit is run. The Volunteer Center’s mission is to “strengthen the community by connecting people through service and developing civic leaders.”  Accomplishing this mission was their main goal and the motivation behind all of their actions. The organization was also run very democratically. While everyone had their positions and there was a hierarchy, like most companies, everyone helped each another out, bounced ideas off one another, and worked as a unit to accomplish their mission. It was not a cut throat environment where people were backstabbing their colleagues to get to the top, but a friendly, supportive, and enthusiastic environment. The employees’ passion also got me hooked on the non-profit world. Their passion for this mission was clear in their conversations with community members, during events and fundraisers, and in all their day to day actions. Every day that I worked at the Volunteer Center, I left the office knowing that the work that I had done that day was meaningful and that felt great. In addition, during this internship I was able to meet so many people from a variety of non-profits in the area. I was constantly inspired by the people I was meeting. Their desire to bring about positive change in the world was a breath of fresh air in our often materialistic, selfish world.

The next three years, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what population I wanted to work with once I graduated from school. I knew that I wanted to work at a non-profit but I did not know what type of non-profit I wanted to work for. During my time at Providence, I volunteered at an elementary school, a high school, an orphanage, and a soup kitchen/food pantry. While I learned so much and thoroughly enjoyed all of these experiences, I knew that I had yet to find my area of interest. That was until the second semester of my senior year. I decided to participate in a spring break school trip to Nicaragua to study Global Coffee Culture. Through the trip, and a course that our group took on this topic, I found my niche. When I learned about the injustices that occur in the coffee industry and how unfair coffee farmers are treated I was outraged. I was constantly researching the topic and every time I learned more about it my desire to fight against these injustices grew.

Following graduation, I started applying to jobs in the fair trade industry and in August I got a job at Equal Exchange, an authentic fair trade company whose mission is to “build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and to demonstrate, through our success, the contribution of worker co-operatives and Fair Trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world.” I was hired as a temporary employee and have recently been hired full time as their Fundraising Program Coordinator. Another great aspect of Equal Exchange is that it is a worker-owned coop, which means that the company is democratically run, with each employee having an equal stake and vote in the company.

I was able to find an organization that had everything I have been looking for since that summer of my freshman year. The work environment is supportive, democratic, ambitious, and inspired. The employees are devoted to accomplishing their mission and fervent about promoting authentic fair trade. And I leave work every day knowing that my work is meaningful, that I am that I am working for company whose mission I passionate about, and that I am playing a small part in trying to end unjust practices against small farmers all over the world. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Holiday Concert

The volunteer Center rents space in Hackensack from the First Presbyterian Church.  They are having a winter concert and asked us to share the information with you.

"With such an overload of information coming in from our social media outlets I must say it is increasingly difficult to try and consider ways to grab your attendance for support in my musical endeavors.

A concert you will not want to miss! 
Under my direction, Maestro Rasaan Hakiem Bourke, the FPC Chancel Choir  will present their 2nd annual mid-season concert. Gregory Stout will be the organist/pianist for this concert.

While surrounded by ‪nature,‬ it's rich ‪autumn/fall landscapes inspired the tapestry of music being performed on December 13th. With a program entitled; ‪Hope,‬ ‪‎Peace,‬ ‪Joy, and‬ ‪Love‬ Came down from Heaven, where else could one seek ‪‎inspiration‬ but within creation herself!!! Sure on this Shining Night by Morten Lauridsen, Christmas Day by Gustav Holst, E’en So Lord Quickly Come by Paul Manz, in addition to newly arranged Carols. 
Looking forward to seeing you in Hackesnack!"


Friday, November 6, 2015


Bring your lunch to work Wednesday, November 18th, from 1:00 - 2:00 PM, and learn all about Building a Small Business in the Digital Age with Marla Currie as part of the Volunteer Center's free live webinar series. Marla has put her expertise to use on behalf of agencies and corporations such as Procter & Gamble, AT&T, General Mills, Pfizer, Seagram's, KFC, Target Stores, Pepsi-Cola, HBO and many more -- and now you can benefit from her vast knowledge and experience free of charge. Marla, currently CEO of Targeted Advertising Group (parent company of TAG on the Web, an ecommerce destination for affordable digital creative and media services designed for small business), is also a Certified Search Engine Marketer.  
The webinar will include:
  • search engine optimization
  • search marketing
  • social media
  • social media marketing
  • technical SEO
Building a Small Business in the Digital Age will also cover such topics as budgeting for your marketing plan; digital marketing strategies; and the best options for small marketers with limited time, resources and understanding of what works in online marketing. 
The Bergen Volunteer Center is offering a variety of free live webinars on various topics. Anyone who wants to continually learn or get more information on a topic is welcome to participate. You must register at least 24 hours in advance to receive the confirmation email containing instructions on how to join the session.
Do you have an idea for a webinar topic? Or perhaps you'd like to volunteer to conduct a webinar?  Email Beanne DeGuzman to share your ideas!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Our CEO featured on WMBC's Hometown!

Our own Lynne Algrant, CEO of Bergen Volunteer Center, explains the history and purpose of the organization to Melissa Estock as part of WMBC's "Hometown" show. This feature episode allowed Lynne to touch on the highly trained and committed volunteers that help run the county, our upcoming 50th anniversary, as well as key activities such as the CHORE service, mentoring high-risk youths and the LEADS civic leadership program.
In particular, Lynne focused on the Volunteer Center's crucial role in coordinating volunteer efforts for hurricane relief, not only during the 72-hour period immediately following the hurricane, but also during the months of recovery and rebuilding.

Most importantly, Lynne stressed the opportunity for new volunteers to use an existing skill or develop a new one to help others. "We are meeting unmet and hidden needs," she explained," by getting neighbors and friends involved."

If you'd like to watch WMBC's "Hometown" episode from October 24th featuring Lynne Algrant and the Bergen Volunteer Center, click here or view below!


Tuesday, October 13, 2015


The Bergen Volunteer Center is offering a variety of free live webinars on various topics. These one-hour online sessions are for anyone who wants to continually learn or get more information on a topic. While they are FREE, you do need to register to participate. 

Wednesday, October 21 
1:00 - 2:00 PM

You must sign up at least 24hrs in advance to receive the confirmation email containing instructions on how to join the session. 

A New Way of Working: Using Mindfulness to Transform Effectiveness, Productivity and Happiness

In increasingly fast-paced, always-on, complex work environments, we face constant pressure to increase productivity and performance. This pressure can create imbalances in our emotional, mental and physical wellbeing, both at work and at home. The potential of the mind is vast, however, and we can train ourselves to become deeply focused, fully present, high-performing and at ease - even in the midst of busy work life. Managing our mind is the solution. Mindfulness training is a centuries old tradition which has been adapted to address the challenges of modern work life.
 This webinar will examine the realities of the modern workplace, including:
  • PAID reality of modern worklife
  • neuroscience of how we work today
  • why attention is so important to results
  • how we can practice a new way of working through mindfulness
 The webinar will include practical exercises, examples, as well as tools and techniques to integrate mindfulness into daily work life to be more productive, effective, and happier.
Sign Up HERE 

About the Speaker
MaryBeth Sigler is a Senior Consultant to The Potential Project, a global organization that has delivered corporate-based mindfulness training in Fortune 500 companies in more than 22 countries.
Sigler is also an experienced leadership and executive coach with more than twenty years experience coaching executives and their teams. She works with senior leaders, managers, and high-potentials to develop greater professional effectiveness and the leadership tools needed to successfully advance their careers. She specializes in emotional intelligence and mindful leadership.
MaryBeth is a professor at New York University in the area of Leadership and Human Capital. She has had a 15 year personal practice in meditation and mindfulness, and is a certified instructor of yoga.

MaryBeth is also a graduate of Bergen LEADS, a program of the Bergen Volunteer Center.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Volunteer Driving Program Serves Community

Guest Blogger, Agency Member iTNNorthJersey, Mary Lyon Kims 

iTNNorthJersey is thrilled to be able to help almost 100 seniors and visually impaired members in Bergen County!  None of this would be possible without the support of both our generous grantors, The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, and our fantastic volunteer drivers. It’s been very rewarding to hear back from our members how much they “love” the volunteers who drive them where they need to go.  To say this is rewarding is an understatement.

In September we began bringing Gloria, a 90 year old Electrical Engineer and Professor, to Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck to teach 4 days per week.  We now bring 6 members to their dialysis appointments three times a week– a life saver to them and their families in more ways than one.  

ITNNorthJersey volunteers help seniors and the visually impaired
Our newest visually impaired member Sal is now able to attend events that are important to him all over the county in locations and time frames that no other service could help him with but iTNNorthJersey.

In order to continue to be able to provide this very necessary service we need more volunteer drivers.  Please spread the word – as little as one ride per month will help our riders tremendously.  It’s the greatest feeling in the world when we can say to a member “Yes! We can take you there!”.

Volunteers are needed to help serve more members of Bergen County.  Volunteers are needed to drive those in need to appointments, errands, or any other ride they may need.  Volunteers can volunteer as little as 2 hours per month or of course spend much more time helping.  Please call Mary Lyons Kim at 201-398-6885 to learn more or sign up!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Summer to Remember

As school resumes and we have a hint of Fall each evening, we wanted to take a moment to thank the people who support the Bergen Campership Fund. A fund that few are aware of that help send low income children to great summer camp programs that have so many important benefits:
  • exercise and fun;
  • learning experiences that keep young brains active and curious;
  • a safe environment so that working parents need not worry about little ones during the day;
  • good friends and supportive adults to encourage growth.
Studies show that children from low-income families often begin the new school year having lost academic and intellectual ground over the summer. So, in fact, summer camp also helps close the achievement gap.
The summer of 2015 was a wonderful one for the Campership Fund.  Because of your generosity, the Campership Fund raised $47,471.  We allocated $39,988 to support 31 kids in a summer camp experience.
Thank you!
We here at the Volunteer Center got to witness first-hand how much the Campership Fund means to families. In May, a mom in our Mentoring Moms program arrived for a celebratory brunch, saw Cindy Andrake, Program Director of Mentoring Moms, threw her arms around her and burst into tears. The day before, she had received notice that the Campership Fund would help pay for summer camp for her 5 year old. The mom had just started a new job, and was so relieved to know that her daughter had a safe place to go and grow for the summer.
Thank you for helping to make the summer a wonderful time for children and their families.  To learn more about the Bergen Campership Fun please email Lynne Algrant at

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Discovering Social Purpose in the Corporate Space

Join the Business Volunteer Council for business to business networking and learn how to add social purpose in your corporate space.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Hosted by: Five Star Premier Residences of Teaneck
8:45am Breakfast & Networking
9:30am-10:30am Presentation

Join the BVC for their quarterly networking meeting, on September 29, 2015, featuring guest speaker, Bea Boccolandro, founder and president of VeraWorks. 

Ms. Boccolandro will share her expertise on how to incorporate social purpose in the corporate space through "Job Purposing". Job Purposing is a specific form of employee volunteering that deepens the corporate mission by serving societal needs.

Bea Boccalandro is the founder and president of VeraWorks, a global consulting firm that helps managers and companies offer employees the opportunity to do societal good through their everyday jobs to deepen their work experience and heighten their performance. She is also author of the Job Purposing
blog, teaches corporate community involvement for Georgetown University and is a frequent keynote speaker on the role of community involvement in everyday corporate jobs.

Don't Wait Register Today!
BVC Members: FREE
Non-Members: Only $10.00 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Arm our Children with Academic Tools to Achieve Life Long Success!

394,200 children in New Jersey are living in poverty. One in five children may not have access to basic school supplies because of their families economic circumstances. Receiving a backpack with the tools they need to succeed can be a life-changing experience.

Research shows that when adequately equipped, school children:

  1. Have positive Feelings of self worth.
  2. Miss fewer schools days. 
  3. Participate more in class.
  4. Have improved classroom behavior.
  5. Achieve higher test scores in all academic subjects.
Good News! You can help more children achieve by collecting school supplies through the Business Volunteer Council's Tools for Schools Program. Start a supply drive in your office and give a child the tools they need for a successful school year! Want to be a part of the solution? Drives begin July 27-August 24, 2015. Email us to receive our step-by-step Tools for Schools toolkit and get started.
Want to do more? As a corporate sponsor you have the opportunity to give these children the tools they need to prepare for higher education and a life long career that could take them out of the cycle of poverty forever.
Many of our community's low income families are so focused on making ends meet that academics often take a back seat. Children of low income families are not even considering college, because it has never been introduced to them as a possibility. These students lack the guidance and support they need to prepare for college and build meaningful careers.
As a Fostering Success sponsor your gift will be used to create and distribute a college road map designed to help high school students navigate a path to higher education. Only 9% of low income families earn a Bachelors degree. You can help change this! As a Founders of Change sponsor you can utilize your corporate employees to participate in a career workshop to exposing students to the possibility of achieving a successful rewarding career.
Your sponsorship is needed to help make this happen! Be a part of the solution and learn how you can change the life of a child forever. See our new sponsorship levels.
One initiative, two nonprofits, a lifetime of change.
Questions? Email to learn more about donating, sponsoring, or volunteering.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Volunteer Center Doing More Together

On Thursday, July 30, 2015, the Volunteer Center of Bergen County in partnership with Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization (MEVO), Sharp Electronics, Konica Minolta, United Water and the Center for Food Action collaborated efforts to address food insecurity in Bergen County.

394,000 children in New Jersey are food insecure. This statistic is a startling reality, but through the efforts of the Volunteer Center’s Business Volunteer Council, it doesn’t have to be our future! Business Council members, Sharp Electronics, Konica Minolta and United Water have sought practical solutions to address food insecurity through the Volunteer Center’s Brown Bag Buddies program. Recognizing many low-income families do not have access to fresh produce, the Volunteer Center collaborated with MEVO to allow corporate volunteers to aid in the planting of organic vegetables for low income families. 

On Thursday, volunteers from Konica Minolta and Sharp prepared, weeded and planted garden beds, while United Water volunteers added the finishing touches on a fence they sponsored, surrounding the entire two-acre farm. Even fellow nonprofit, Northern New Jersey Friendship House catered the lunches for the afternoon, at a significant discount. 

“Partnership is what is today is all about. It is our philosophy that we can accomplish more for our community together,” stated Erica West, Director of Corporate Engagement at the Volunteer Center. 

Although the temperature was hot and the humidity was high, the employee volunteers worked hard, laughed harder and took great pride in their tremendous accomplishment. Konica Minolta and Sharp will return to the farm on September 16, 2015 to harvest the vegetables, which will be donated to needy families through the Center for Food Action. 

More volunteer opportunities are available through MEVO at or check out the Volunteer Center’s website to view volunteer opportunities.


Monday, August 3, 2015

iTNNorthJersey driving your transportation worries away

by Mary Lyons Kim

ITNNorthJersey volunteers help seniors and the visually impairedWhew!  iTNNorthJersey has taken off like wildfire and we’re living in gratitude.  We’d like to first thank some of those who helped us get started providing rides to those 60+ and the visually impaired.  The JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly helped facilitate the relationship between The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation along with The Jewish Federation of North Jersey, our two founding grant donors.  Both The Taub Foundation and The Jewish Federation have been incredibly supportive and generous in our efforts to help those needing another, and probably better, transportation option in Bergen County.  We have also received a grant from New Jersey Manufacturer’s Insurance and several smaller private donations.

As of August 1st we have 45 Rider Members and 20 Volunteer Drivers.  Ideally we need a 2 -1 ratio so we are ALWAYS recruiting drivers who can provide as little as one ride per month although more is much appreciated. Try it – you’ll like it!

Driving our members where they want to go, when they need to get there, is incredibly rewarding.  Bringing Roy from his house in Allendale to rehab in Saddle Brook always brings with it interesting and intellectual conversations.  Driving Doris from her home in Ft. Lee to her favorite shopping mall is a laugh filled ride that’s always inspiring and uplifting.  We are so happy to be able to bring Trudy to visit her husband in rehab for lunch several times per week.  She would otherwise have no other way to get from her home in Paramus up to Rockleigh that would be affordable.

We’ll continue to work hard to make iTNNorthJersey a continued success and please reach out to us anytime for more information; suggestions and good wishes are always appreciated.

We’re enjoying the ride and so can you!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Climbing New Heights

By: Sabrina Clay
It was a day full of fun and adventure. From rock climbing and tug of war to human knots and trust mind field games, everyone had a blast!
The day was sponsored by Goldman Sachs who brought with them 9 volunteers to give 18 kids, ages 5-14 from our Mentoring Youth and Mentoring Moms programs, a day of daring and exciting activity at The Gravity Vault in Upper Saddle River, NJ.

The camp-like experience and team oriented games created positive outcomes for the kids, boosting their confidence and self-esteem while teaching them the importance of trusting each other and working together.
The day’s adventures also brought out the kids’ leadership skills, which often times go unnoticed in their everyday lives. At first, some of the kids were afraid to climb the wall. But with lots of encouragement from the volunteers and fellow peers, they overcame the fear and conquered the wall – climbing all the way to the top! With new found confidence, some of them even attempted the really hard vertical wall!

I believe that through this fun-filled day, the kids realized they can overcome personal, mental and even physical hurdles if they set their minds to it.
A big thanks to Goldman Sachs for sponsoring the trip and raising over $1,300. And thanks to The Gravity Vault for offering up their staff and creating an amazing experience valued at $500.

What the kids were able to accomplishment on the rock wall is a true metaphor for what they can accomplish in life too. These kids were simply amazing!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Volunteer Center Launches Board Matching Program for Corporations

“Non-profit organizations continually face the challenge of finding committed board members”, states Erica West, Director of Corporate Engagement at the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. “It is estimated that nearly 2 million non-profit board seats need to be filled each year.” The Volunteer Center’s BoardLink fills this gap by providing personalized matching services to skilled corporate professionals who have an interest in giving back to the community through nonprofit board service. By leveraging their 50 years of experience with non-profits and volunteer service, the Volunteer Center is poised to both fill a tremendous need in the community and also provide a real benefit to corporations. Integrating board volunteerism into the workplace is a powerful way to keep employees engaged and fulfilled and help them enhance their leadership skills, while also promoting corporate social responsibility. The community benefits tremendously by having strong leadership at local non-profits that are addressing needs in the community. BoardLink was launched in April 2015 in recognition of National Volunteer Week. 

The Volunteer Center has a growing cadre of more than 40 non-profits in the northern NJ/New York metro area who are interested and ready to take on new board members through BoardLink.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is one company that is working with the Volunteer Center to make BoardLink available to Novartis senior leaders. Their involvement reflects the company’s commitment to engaging their employees in philanthropic initiatives that will further their mission of caring and curing and improve the social environment in which Novartis operates. 

The Volunteer Center will work with Novartis employees to assess their interests and skills, and identify a local non-profit that is a good fit. The Volunteer Center will also provide training to Novartis employees on the roles and responsibilities of a board member, as well as the expectations of serving on a non-profit board. 

“By sharing their vision, strategic thinking and experience with a non-profit organization in the community, Novartis leaders can also enhance their abilities and grow professionally”, states Wanda Sims of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. We look forward to working with the Volunteer Center to engage our leaders in advancing the work of local non-profit organizations.”

For more information about BoardLink, please visit contact Erica West at, 201-489-9454, ext. 133.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Want to enjoy a really rewarding experience? Help Bergen County’s senior citizens and disabled people remain safe in their own homes. The Chore Service, sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, performs minor household repairs that senior citizens and disabled persons can neither do themselves nor get anyone else to do.

A Chore Handyperson volunteer goes on service calls one day a week from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm. Volunteers enjoy being part of a crew of two to four people who ride in specially equipped Chore vans. Each crew is assigned 4-5 service calls each weekday.

Last year, Chore volunteers visited over 2,000 homes and performed 4,000 repairs for grateful citizens. This year, the request for service is even greater, and additional volunteers will be needed to fill new and existing shifts.

Studies have shown that volunteers enjoy health benefits, from reduction of stress and lowering of blood pressure to improving self-esteem and enhancing the immune system.

Volunteering with a Chore crew offers an opportunity to get out, meet new people, stay connected with the broader world and share handyman skills.

Prospective volunteers should be able to perform minor household repairs such as those that able-bodied homeowners must do. Ideally, volunteers will be available on a regular basis so Chore can schedule a regular day with the same crew. Volunteer van drivers/handypeople are especially needed.

It’s a great volunteer opportunity for retirees, or people who work second and third shift jobs. Back-up volunteer handymen and women are also welcome.

Call Maureen at
(201) 489-7790 to find out how satisfying it can be to lend a hand to those in need.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Business Volunteer Council Quarterly Meeting

The Business Volunteer Council invites you to attend their quarterly meeting. 

June 25, 9:00am-10:30am
Breakfast, networking and seminar
Location: Meadowlands Racetrack Victory Bar
Guests and Members are free for this event

Network with like-minded professionals, share best practices on employee engagement, and learn about trending topics from experts in the field of CSR and the nonprofit sector.
This month, join us at the Meadowlands Racetrack Victory Lounge for breakfast and networking followed by a presentation on the impact of Pro Bono Skills Based Volunteering featuring Amy Klein, Executive Director of VolunteerConnect.
Amy will share how your business can enhance it's volunteer program by engaging employees in measurable short-term impact projects with nonprofits needing their support. Many nonprofits don’t have the financial means to pay for all the skills they need to carry out their missions. Employees who provide expertise in areas such as business analysis, marketing, strategic planning, and IT services can make a tremendous difference helping nonprofits create social change.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Bergen Leaders Present Public Forum on Suburban Downtowns

The 2015 Class of Bergen LEADS, Bergen County’s premier civic leadership program,  
presented a Public Forum on the topic “Revitalizing and Refocusing Bergen County Suburban Downtowns” on June 9, 2015 at Bergen Community College. The Public Forum showcased the Bergen LEADS class project, which was the culmination of the 10-month learning and leadership development program managed by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.

Issues such as demographics, housing, transportation, parking and safe communities were presented and discussed, with creative solutions to current challenges presented. Several government officials attended, including Ray Cywinski, Mayor of Demarest and graduate of Bergen LEADS Class of 2010, and Freeholder Tracy Zur. The Public Forum was moderated by Francis Reiner, an accomplished professional planner, urban designer and landscape architect with more than 20 years of experience working in both the public and private sector, including the Hackensack Downtown Rehabilitation and Redevelopment Plan. The event was sponsored by Rockland Electric Company.

The 24 men and women in the Bergen LEADS Class of 2015 have met monthly since September to dissect issues, debate viewpoints and get a first-hand look at Bergen County’s infrastructure. The Forum is the culmination of the seminar year for the Class of 2015. After the Forum, the class participated in a graduation ceremony led by Bergen LEADS Seminar Co-Directors, former Bergen County Executive William “Pat” Schuber, and Volunteer Center CEO and Englewood City Councilwoman-at-Large Lynne H. Algrant.

Members of the graduating class are: Cindy Andrake, Tonice Bunting, Maria Deptula, Rhona Feimster-Vega, Beth Figman, Eric Hugo, Shonya Jordan, Blake Levine, Kimberly Lewis-Banks, Mark McKoy, Erika Monell, William Mulaney, James Narin, James O’Leary, Kristen Pakonis, Isabel Perez, Tenia Peterson, Scott Reddin, Marisa Santiago, JoAnne Seibel, Charisse Taylor, Paul Thomasset, Eric Tomaszewski and David Van Schalik.

Bergen LEADS is sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, which has successfully engaged Bergen County residents in civic life for 49 years. Bergen LEADS - led by former Bergen County Executive William “Pat” Schuber - carries on that tradition by providing an extraordinarily rich, diverse and stimulating program focusing on topical issues, leadership and community trusteeship.  Learn more at


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Fifth Friday Celebrates 15 Years of the Volunteer Center’s Business Volunteer Council

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County’s Fifth Friday is a premier networking event, bringing together leaders from every sector in Bergen County. The May 29, 2015, Fifth Friday event focused the importance of corporate social responsibility by celebrating 15 years of the Business Volunteer Council’s impact on the community. 

The Business Volunteer Council (BVC), a program of the Volunteer Center, engages businesses and their employees in volunteer service and workplace giving, and enhances corporate social responsibility. Utilizing the mobilization of corporate employees, the BVC has helped solve serious social issues facing our community.

Business Volunteer Council Chair, Marc Sturiale, Premier Five Star Residences, and BVC member, Ellen Rafferty, BD, gave a brief presentation sharing the mission and 15 years of the Business Volunteer Council’s accomplishments to over 200 guests in attendance at Fifth Friday.

Since 2000, the BVC has mobilized over 5,300 volunteers, clocked over 30,000 volunteer hours and provided 1.8 million in resources to benefit our children and families in areas of hunger, health and education. According to the value scale of the national independent sector, the estimated total monetary value of BVC volunteer hours is $552,160!

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County is proud of all those who make the Business Volunteer Council such an important part of our community!

If you would like to learn more about becoming a member of the Business Volunteer Council, please contact Erica West, 201-489-9454 ext 133.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Volunteer Center Announces New Officers and Board Members

At its Annual Meeting on June 4th, The Volunteer Center of Bergen County announced newly elected Officers and Directors.

Michael P. Smith of Park Ridge was elected Second Vice President. Mr. Smith is Executive Director, Global Risk Management at KPMG and a volunteer with St. Bernard Project in New Orleans. Patricia Basilo of Tenafly was elected for a second, one-year term as Secretary. Ms. Basilo is a Business Development Consultant and a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, Eva’s Village and has been a participant in the Bergen Bike Tour for 12 years. She has been a member of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County for six years and has served as Chairperson of several committees and events. Rosemary Ervin, CPA and Partner with the Hunter Group was re-elected as Treasurer. She was the former Treasurer of the Girl Scout Council and is also active with Presentation Church in Upper Saddle River and the NJ Society of CPA’s.

Elected to a second, three-year term were: Katherine Norian, resident of Oradell, member of the Oradell Board of Education and Chairperson of several Volunteer Center events including Derby Day and Celebrate Volunteers; Jose Vicente, resident of Kearny, Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial Services and member of Bergen LEADS Class of 2011; Joanne Westphal, resident of Dumont, Vice President/Regional Marketing Manager Northern Region at TD Bank, member of Bergen LEADS Class of 2010 and Co-Chair of the Volunteer Center’s Business Volunteer Council.

Elected to a first, three-year term were: Jim D’Agostino, Jr., resident of Montvale and Vice President, JD Companies; Michael Huxley, resident of Franklin Lakes, Vice President and Sr. Private Client Advisor, Wilmington Trust; Kathleen Pless, resident of Saddle River and Senior Loan Underwriter, Investor’s Bank; Mayra Sacco, resident of North Haledon, former Managing Director and Business Manager of the Government Solutions Group in BNY Mellon’s Corporate Trust Division; Farah N. Ansari, Esq., resident of Edgewater, Associate at Schenck Price Smith & King, LLP and First Vice Chair of the Taxation Section of the NJ State Bar Association.

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County strengthens the community by connecting people through service and developing civic leaders. For information about Volunteer Center programs and services, call
201-489-9454 or visit

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Volunteer Center CEO's Letter to the Editor about Teen LEADS appeared in The Record


Today's Teens Are Tomorrow's Leaders

Regarding "Getting a different view from Tenafly teenagers" (Page L-6, June 6):
Ridgewood Teen LEADS with Lynne Algrant, CEO of Volunteer Center of Bergen County, Paul Aronsohn, Ridgewood Mayor and Albert Pucciarelli, Ridgewood Deputy Mayor
"Once I am of age, I will never miss the opportunity to vote at every local election. It is a privilege that should not be missed."
These are the words of Ridgewood High student Isabelle Stern, who participated in Teen LEADS, a civic leadership program for teens.
The article refers to this program, which was developed by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County and is based on our highly regarded leadership program for adults, Bergen LEADS.
Teen LEADS is presented through schools as an extracurricular activity or in conjunction with an elective course, and it is currently offered at Ridgewood and Tenafly high schools. Teens are given the opportunity to explore, in-depth and experientially, the inner workings of local public policy while also discovering and developing their own leadership styles.
In Ridgewood, Teen LEADS participants delved deep into issues of health care, municipal government, education and environmental issues, compiling and analyzing data, meeting with local leaders and policy makers and working together tnot only to identify problems, but to provide real solutions.
Teen LEADS empowers our youth to be the informed, inspired leaders we will need and depend on to be stewards of our future. As a community, we should be proud of — and pay attention to — our youth, who have the interest, ability and fresh perspective to make public policy happen.
Lynne H. Algrant, CEO, Volunteer Center of Bergen County

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Volunteer Center Presents Leadership Workshop to Emerson High School Students

On May 22, the Volunteer Center of Bergen Country presented a Student Leadership Workshop for 42 student leaders form Emerson High School’s Student Council and student service clubs. The enthusiastic youth leaders spent the day working on leadership styles, team building and service planning, all for the benefit of the varied clubs and student government at their school. 

Students in grades 9-12 took a look at their current club and organization activities and began to brainstorm ways in which they could reach out to and get more involvement from their peers. The workshop included presentations, discussion and a variety of hands-on activities designed to explore leadership styles, working as part of a team and creative problem solving. 

Under the direction of Debbie Emery, Director of Community Volunteer Services for the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, the teens looked at their personal strengths, goals and areas for improvement. Their ultimate goal is to create a more unified, while still diverse, student body, working together to make a greater impact in promoting care and concern for their community and future. 

“Teens are creative and excited about generating change and strengthening their school, their community and ultimately their world, stated Debbie Emery.“ We had a wonderful day working and dreaming and thinking out of the box.”

To find out more about the Volunteer Center’s youth service learning and leadership programs, including the summer program Ready Set Serve, visit or contact Debbie Emery at 201-489-9454, ext. 118 or

Monday, June 1, 2015

Volunteer Center Receives Grant From PNC

The PNC Foundation recently awarded a $10,000 grant to the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. Funds will support the Volunteer Center’s Mentoring Moms program, which matches overwhelmed mothers, many of whom are single parents, with caring mentors who provide emotional and practical support by helping them with everyday parenting challenges, including financial issues and other struggles. 

The funds will be used to support the recruitment, screening, training and supervision of mentors, as well as to provide activities to strengthen families and enhance educational opportunities for the children involved in the program, such as a free book fair and a back to school workshop. 

PNC, through the PNC Foundation, has supported Mentoring Moms for the past 11 years, helping struggling mothers to work toward providing stability and safety for their families, and encouraging healthy child development for their children so that they can succeed in school. PNC grants are provided by the PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group. 

“We are so grateful to PNC for supporting the mothers and families in our program,” says Cindy Andrake, Program Director for Mentoring Moms. “Funding for workshops and events allows us to provide valuable learning opportunities which not only impacts mothers, but their children as well.” 

More women are needed to become mentors—there is an especially great need for bi-lingual, Spanish-speaking mentors. To find out how to become a mentor, or to pledge a donation to support the Mentoring Moms program, call (201) 489-9454 or visit and click on mentoring programs.

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County strengthens the community by connecting people through service and developing civic leaders.

The PNC Foundation actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a $350 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mentoring Moms Celebrates 20 Years of Service

On Saturday, May 16th, 80 remarkable women celebrated and recognized the tremendous impact that the Volunteer Center’s Mentoring Moms program has made on the Bergen County community at the 20th Anniversary Moms and Mentors Brunch. The event was held at the Volunteer Center in Hackensack in honor of Mother’s Day, with Bergen County Freeholder Tracy Zur as a special guest. Sterling Affair Caterers generously donated their services to provide a delicious, beautifully presented brunch for all of the attendees, and Perry’s Florist of Glen Rock donated flowering plants that served as centrepieces and were given to each mother and mentor at the end of the event.

Raising children today is a challenge for any parent, but it can be especially difficult for mothers who are living on the edge of stability due to poverty, a history of trauma or abuse, and/or mental illness. Mentoring Moms trains volunteer mentors to work with mothers who are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of children and life and who are also faced with immense personal challenges. When a struggling mother is supported by a mentor, the entire family benefits from that support. 95% of the mothers being mentored through Mentoring Moms are living in poverty and many are dealing with challenges such as language barriers, mental illness and/or children with emotional, behavioral or emotional challenges. Since 1995, Mentoring Moms has linked more than 500 mothers with mentors, helping each mother to work toward providing a safe, stable environment for her family.

Several women spoke at the Mentors and Mentors Brunch, including Volunteer Center CEO Lynne Algrant, Mentoring Moms Director Cindy Andrake, Freeholder Tracy Zur and several mentors and mentees from the program. “When you are feeling lost and don’t know where else to turn, the people in Mentoring Moms are willing and ready to give of their time for you and go the extra mile to help you, stated a single mother who has been mentored through the program for the past nine years. “I am very grateful to have Mentoring Moms in my life.” Another single mother spoke passionately about how much her personal challenges had taken a toll on her, but her mentor “…saw a rose in me, and helped me to bloom.” 

For more information about the Mentoring Moms program or to find out how to be a mentor, please visits or contact Cindy Andrake at, 201-489-9454, ext. 123.