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!