Thursday, August 17, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Mike!

Mike Silverstein has been a Chore volunteer for three years, and is part of the Monday, Chore Van #1 crew.  Prior to his 35 years as a full time college professor, he was employed by manufacturing and consulting firms as an industrial engineer.  After retiring from full time teaching in 1997, he taught part time until 2014. He recently became chairperson of the MS Swim-In Board, and is a member of both the senior housing and transportation committees in Teaneck. He enjoys woodworking and has created over 100 wine cork-corkboards for friends and family.  He was a competitive bullseye shooter and competitive small bore rifle shooter for many years.  “I enjoy working with my mind and hands, and also enjoy the camaraderie of working with people my own age, helping individuals who are less fortunate financially or physically than I.”

Monday, August 14, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Rob, John, Tom & Steve!

The Chore Program and its volunteers have been featured in an article about giving back to the community in an issue of ‘This Old House’ Magazine.  Chore is a recipient of the prestigious NJ Governor’s Award for Service to Senior Citizens.  Chore was named a Daily Point of Light by the Points of Light Foundation, the Corporation of Community Service and the Knights of Columbus for its remarkable record of community service and exemplary volunteerism. 

Rob Rossi, John Tercek, Tom Veit and Steve Kaplowitz are the members of the Thursday, Chore Van #1 crew.

Mrs. O writes:  “I commend you on such excellent help for us seniors, so in need.  The Chore crew worked so hard at my home for an extended time to put air conditioners in for me and my disabled son.  I am 83 years old and living on a limited income.  We never could afford outside help.  I cannot thank you enough for these very special men you sent!  We seniors are so lucky for this organization and I hope everyone is as grateful as I am for all of you.”

Monday, August 7, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Joe C!

Joe Cutolo has been with Chore since 2009, and he works on two crews each week—the Monday Chore Van #3 and Tuesday, Chore Van #2.  Prior to joining Chore, he worked in the oil industry for 40 years and operated oil tankers world-wide.  When he is not volunteering for Chore, he spends much time as Commander of American Legion Post 21 in Cresskill, supporting veterans and the community.    In his spare time, he enjoys making wooden model sailing ships and gardening.  “I have been fortunate in my lifetime and enjoy helping those who can use a helping hand.  I derive a great sense of satisfaction.  It is a reminder that my problems are insignificant compared to those of some clients we visit.  I have made some good friendships with the Monday and Tuesday crews, and we have shared many different repair techniques and skills.”

Thursday, August 3, 2017


Bergen County's Hidden Therapeutic Gem - by Elma

One of the greatest advantages of getting the opportunity to work at the Bergen Volunteer Center is the ability to visit the many institutions in Bergen County - many of which I had not known about before.

One such institution was the New Alliance Academy. Just a few weeks shy of summer vacation, Debbie Emery had invited me to go along with her and Eric Fuchs-Stengel to New Alliance Academy. Pulling up to the school, taking in its beige building hooded by its green canopy, I thought nothing of it. I thought nothing of it because I was not familiar with the institution.

But, when I stepped inside I was overwhelmed by its significance.

New Alliance Academy is a high school for teenagers experiencing acute psychological distress. In addition to meeting the student's’ educational needs, the Academy also provides continuum of care which provides the students with emotional and therapeutic services. 

As I walked through their halls, I witnessed the impact of New Alliance Academy. The classrooms were lined with bookshelves containing everything from classic literature to political commentary books. The walls were covered with the artwork from the students and their well written papers.

I also had the opportunity to talk with the teachers. The investment and care which they showed for their students was remarkable. They, including the principal, knew each student at a personal level.

Their care for the students allowed them to see the need to engage them in community service. The three of us were there to discuss the importance of becoming involved in the community. Volunteerism encourages unity, leadership, confidence, discipline, and commitment. These are skills that are important for all students to possess, regardless of the type of school they attend.

Although I was there to inform the faculty of New Alliance Academy about the significance of community service, I came away, that day, learning more about Bergen County.

Our county has hidden gems. For me, the New Alliance Academy was a gem that I had the privilege of uncovering.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Message From Our CEO

Dog Days of Summer

Growing up, my father was a college administrator. Now married to a high school principal, August has continued to be that quiet before the storm, that period of reflection before the rush of the fall semester.  August through Labor Day has always been the run up to the "new year" for me and a time for resolutions and plans. 

So what are nonprofits doing in August?  Most are planning for a VERY busy September through December.  And all are thinking about how to engage volunteers in their important work.  

Here at the Bergen Volunteer Center we are: 

--Actively recruiting volunteers for our programs--Chore handypersons, and mentors for moms and teen agers;

--Making-It-Home is gearing up to furnish the new Veterans apartments in Emerson in September;

--Opening days for Bergen LEADS, Teen LEADS and College LEADS are being finalized;

--Office hours for our Redefining Retirement "matchmakers" are being scheduled;

-- And we are planning the Fall Volunteer Fair to be held on September 12th at the Paramus Park Mall.

So in the dog days of summer, the quiet before that first school bell rings, as you curl up with the last stack of beach novels and magazine articles, we hope you will also think about volunteering this fall.  And remember two things:

"Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart."
--Elizabeth Andrew 


"Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. . . . You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Enjoy the Dog Days of Summer,

Monday, July 31, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Harvey!

Harvey Rappaport  retired from CBS Broadcasting, where he worked for News, Sports and Entertainment divisions in his early career, and just prior to retiring, was VP Operations at CBS’s international division.  He found out about Chore from reading an article in his local newspaper.  He felt it would be a good match, as he considers himself handy and is always up for a challenge.  He also dog walks for START II, a small private animal shelter in Englewood.  In his spare time he enjoys traveling, going to the theater and caring for his 5 rescue cats.  

He and his crew members in the Tuesday Chore van #1 have completed many safety repairs such as grab bars, smoke detectors and hand railings to make the home safer, but they have also completed some repairs for seniors who are overwhelmed by technology, such as setting up a simple medical alert system.  “The elderly have a need to be kept safe as they stay in their homes.  They are susceptible to unscrupulous people, and we at Chore can be very helpful to them.  There’s nothing better than when we receive a big ‘Thank You and God Bless’ when we leave a home better than when we found it.” 

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Why I Love Bergen County by Elma
I have lived in Bergen County for the past 12 years and there was not a single day when it did not feel like home.

Home is synonymous with comfort, belonging and community. In Bergen County, there is a deep-seated feeling of community. Uncompromisable relationships develop between neighbors, between peers, between YMCA staff and members and even between people you see regularly at the grocery store.

I had first sensed the pulse of our community when I moved to Hackensack from Poughkeepsie. My mom had to pick me up from Fairmount Elementary School by foot because our car had broken down. My brother was cooing in his stroller and I hopped along, a carefree preschooler. Suddenly, the sky cackled and the dark clouds opened up to torrential rain.

Without an umbrella we were forced to keep trudging along in this monsoon. Wet and shivering, we made it to the end of the block, still ten daunting minutes away from home. We were stopped in our tracks by a seaweed green truck whose tinted windows rolled down to reveal a familiar face - our crossing guard. Every day we saw her going to school and coming from school. And there she was, willing to go out of her way to take us home.

That is the heart of Bergen County - a feeling of community that persists through thick and thin.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

14,000th Ride and Counting!

ITNNorthJersey is training their 90th volunteer driver this week. The Independent Transportation Network of North Jersey is making great strides in just over 2 years. They started with 3 volunteers driving 2 rider members, now they are set to give their 14,000th ride in Bergen County.

ITNNorthJersey is a community based transportation service for seniors and adults with visual impairment. They help dozens of members get to all kinds of appointments including: kidney dialysis, jobs, errands, routine medical and even the hairdresser.

Dora from Franklin Lakes is a recent widow who now relies on ITNNorthJersey for her weekly trips to the hairdresser and grocery store shopping. Dora says these trips allow her to stay in the home she loves while being able to safely continue her usual routine.

Like Dora, the consistent feedback from members is overwhelmingly positive. For many of them it's not just about getting around with ease, it's also about doing so with dignity. And for the volunteer drivers, they say it's a rewarding way to spend their time.

If you're interested in learning more about ITNNorthJersey, contact Mary Lyons-Kim at either 201-398-3885 or

Monday, July 24, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Ed L.!

Prior to joining Chore about 1 ½ years ago, Ed Lipiner worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta, where he conducted field assessments and reviewed environmental impacts of federally funded projects.  He also worked with the Passaic County Planning Department as a principal Transportation Planner, where he conducted planning studies encompassing all modes of transportation, as well as managed programs providing transport services for disadvantaged populations in the County.  

In addition to his time with Chore, he continues volunteering in support of the environment by participating in EcovillageNJ, a meetup group collaborating on housing projects based on environmental and cooperative principals,  and GreenFaith, a local group of religious congregations that sponsor events to promote environmental sustainability. He enjoys hiking and travel, and has developed his own website/blog about Urban Affairs.   “Through my association with Chore, I have gained an appreciation of the challenges and potential solutions facing seniors and disabled people who wish to remain in their homes.  Chore means people connecting with and helping other people in need—a foundation for an ethical and humane society.”


Monday, July 17, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Rich!

Rich Heslin is another of our newer volunteers-- he joined Chore about 9 months ago after retiring from a long career with the Port Authority of NY/NJ, which included management responsibilities for PATH’s structural, mechanical and track/third-rail systems. He also served as general manager at both Newark Liberty International Airport and Teterboro Airport.  

In addition to Chore, Rich volunteers with Traveler’s Aid at Newark Airport, where he helps visitors find their way, and provides them with information and assistance as they journey.  He enjoys cycling in his spare time.  “My wife suggested I volunteer with Chore, because after I retired, I wanted to give back to the community and help out where it was truly needed.  Chore absolutely provides that opportunity.  And as I am sure you know, while we do make a difference to those who request our services, the feeling you get for helping others makes it all worthwhile.”

Thursday, July 13, 2017



Right now, I can put my hair up in a ponytail, braids or even a bun. But 2 years ago, I couldn’t do any of that. I couldn’t even part my hair.

Two years ago I shaved my head, completely! I looked like a brown egg that had sprouted a body. Keep reading, the reason I did this will become clear. But first, I want to take you along the journey.

I remember the day I went to the salon. My mother was nervous, as a mother should be. She was worried that I would be bullied, that I would become a social outcast. But I knew this was something I had to do.

Just as my mother was worried, the barber was confused. The man had wet my hair and was ready to snip away with small shears.

“How short do you want it, miss?”

“I want to shave my head”.

He stopped and stared at me, the shears suspended in bewilderment. The man then rested two fingers just above my ear lobe.

“Up to here?”

At that moment I remembered my grandmother, my great aunts and my aunt.

When I was five, my youngest great aunt died of breast cancer, at home, surrounded by her own things.

I remember when the doctors took my grandmother off of life support because lung cancer had eaten her away; I was six.

When I was eight, my oldest great aunt passed away of stomach cancer. I remember the call at midnight.

And I do not remember my aunt at all. Years before I was born, she passed away. She was 32 and a victim of Leukemia.

Weeks before my haircut, I had read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Henrietta had died of cervical cancer. Her daughter, Deborah, almost drove herself crazy because of those tumors. She was afraid of inheritance. I am too.

Then I remember the commercials for St. Jude’s. They are just kids yet they are fighting battles that my family had lost. I see them smiling on screen, tubes up their nose and arms, bald head, but still they have hope.

In fourth grade, I read a book by Patricia Polacco titled The Lemonade Club. In the book, a fifth grader, Marilyn, had leukemia, and so she started to lose her hair. I had seen the same thing happen to my family. In support and to help her through her difficult treatment, Marilyn’s entire class shaved their heads too. Support, it is the least I could do.

I thought of all this and I shook my head no.

“I want it completely off, like bald off”, I asserted.

The man chuckled and began braiding my hair. Then, snip, snip, snip. It was like a weight had been lifted off of me.

He handed the dismembered braid to my mother, who cradled it like a newborn child.

The man used shears to cut away all the remnant hair, the scraps that could not be mailed off to Locks of Love. When he could not cut any further, he buzzed all my hair off.

It is often difficult to explain to people why I did it. How do I explain to them the pain of losing my family? The pain of watching children suffer a ruthless disease? The pain of not being able to do anything about it?

I will never regret my decision to shave my head and donate my hair to a non-profit like Locks of Love, because hopefully I helped a child regain a sense of self confidence.

Monday, July 10, 2017

BVC Can Help Parents Apply for College Financial Aid

Did you know that students are now able to submit FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application starting October 1st? And did you know that your chances of receiving a favorable financial aid package is higher the earlier you apply?

As we all know, college is expensive. The most important component of your financial aid application is the FAFSA and submitting it, as early as possible, maximizes the amount of federal aid you receive. Every little bit counts.

Since the application process is online, and filing for FAFSA is such an integral part of the college financial aid package, it can often be intimidating to those who are new to the college process.

Sharon Genicoff, Guidance Counselor at Bergen County Technical School:
“Some states award financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis, so eligible families who file soon after Oct 1 have a better chance of receiving aid, including grants, work-study and federal loans. You should file the FAFSA even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for need-based aid. If you want to take out a federal loan of any type—including the unsubsidized Stafford Loan, which isn’t based on financial need—then you’ll need to file the FAFSA. Also, some institutions require students to complete the FAFSA in order to be eligible for merit-based awards. Some students and families may have difficulty completing the FAFSA because of misconceptions, including thinking there is a fee. The FAFSA is free and families should never be charged for completing the application. Also, some students may not complete the FAFSA because their parents are not U.S. citizens. The citizenship of their parents has no bearing on aid eligibility and the FAFSA will not ask parents whether they are citizens. The form will ask for their Social Security numbers, though. If a student’s parents do not have this information, they can simply enter all zeros as a placeholder. Lastly, if families do not have access to the internet, there is a printable version available.”

We are here to help! Last year, the Bergen Volunteer Center launched the IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This year, through an extension of the VITA program, volunteers are offering to help students and families understand and complete the FAFSA application. The FAFSA Help Sessions will be held between October 14th through October 28th. Specific locations and times are still being confirmed, so if you are interested in the Help Sessions or know anyone who might be interested, please contact For further information regarding FAFSA, you can also visit

We are also looking for volunteers for the FAFSA event who can help families and students to fill out the FAFSA forms. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact

Keep an eye out on our website ( or our FaceBook ( for any updates regarding the FAFSA Help Sessions.

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Ruth!

Ruth Connolly has been helping out in the Chore office for the past 14 years, making reminder calls, mailing out thank you notes for donations, and many other administrative tasks.  Prior to joining Chore, she was an Executive Secretary at various corporate and non-profit organizations in the area.  In fact, she continues to work in a local construction company as their office manager when she is not at Chore.  

Other volunteer activities include visiting a nursing home patient weekly and shopping for him and clipping coupons which she sends monthly to active military personnel.  “Chore is a very worthwhile program that helps people have things done that they cannot do for themselves.  Volunteering with Chore gives me great personal satisfaction by helping others, while doing the kind of work with which I am comfortable.  It affords me a social atmosphere to work with people who treat me like family.  By the way, I am also a recipient of Chore services at my own home.”

Thursday, July 6, 2017


(This week Bergen Volunteer Center begins a new blog series: What's On My Mind! For the next few weeks, this blog will be written by our volunteer student intern, Elma. A resident of Bergen County and a future doctor, Elma will be blogging about things that matter to her and the Bergen County community.)


I was born in Bangladesh, a South Asian country known for its' diverse culture. I came to the United States when I was 4 years old. Unlike the U.S., Bangladesh is also known for being one of the poorest countries in the world. The streets of Bangladesh bustle with poverty. Children weave through traffic half naked, maimed men drag themselves on the roads, and women cradle their babies on one hip and a tin bowl on the other hip - they all ask for money. Those images haunt me.

I go to Bangladesh every other year. And every other year I see the same thing. But when I return to the U.S., I find refuge from those images. In Bergen County, I do not see the sunken eyes of hungry children. I do not see their protruding ribs. I do not see their tiny hands banging on car windows asking for money. I do not see those things in Bergen County, so poverty does not exist here.

During my junior year of high school, I learned the truth.

Debbie Emery came to speak at my school, Bergen County Technical High-school, as a representative of the Bergen Volunteer Center. One of the things she said that stuck with me was about the poor in Bergen County. As ignorant as it may seem, I had never known there to be any poverty in Bergen County. Certainly, I had not seen any.

To me, poverty translated to the conditions I saw in Bangladesh. However, the evil of poverty is that it exists in many forms. In Bergen County, it exists as homelessness, hunger and lack of healthcare.

Although these seem moderate compared to the situation in Bangladesh or any third-world country, any level of poverty must be acknowledged.

My county’s perceived affluence obscures individuals who truly need help. This is why I wanted to get involved in community driven non-profits. Through volunteerism and community initiatives, the Bergen Volunteer Center makes my county a better home for the less fortunate.

Now that I know poverty exists in Bergen County, and I know the extremes that poverty can ultimately lead to, I want to protect my community.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


“Volunteering is so pervasive it’s invisible. We take for granted all the things that have been pioneered by concerned, active volunteers.”
—Susan J. Ellis, Energize, Inc. and

These words are so true of Bergen County. Volunteerism and civic involvement are so much a part of the air we breathe that we don’t always call it by its name. Here are a few of the encounters I have had with volunteers in the last couple of weeks:

The Bergen Campership Fund is a public/private partnership that raises money to help low-income children go to summer camp. The Fund was founded over 20 years ago and has been managed by dedicated volunteers for all those years. Sitting with them reading applications and allocating scholarships was both solemn and uplifting. For them, knowing that children they will never meet are having a happy, healthy, summer is worth the hours of meetings each year.

The house across the street from me was bought and torn down in a matter of weeks. In one afternoon, all the old trees on the property were chopped down—a shocking and devastating transformation of the neighborhood. Within hours, I discovered the Shade Tree Association and other activists in town. They have organized a tougher tree ordinance and mobilized residents all over town to support it.

My colleague is organizing a career workshop for adolescents in our Mentoring Youth program. Everyone she has asked to serve on a panel has said yes and named others she should invite. The enthusiasm to share and guide young people is exhilarating.

As I drive throughout Bergen County, I am now greeted with warm green signs declaring the town “Stigma Free.” In fact, 51 communities have declared themselves Stigma Free and are actively working to encourage mental health awareness and wellness. The Stigma Free movement is entirely volunteer-led and it is transforming our community for the better.

Muhammad Ali said that “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

One of the reasons Bergen County is such an abundant community is because so many pay their rent every day in so many ways.

The Bergen Volunteer Center is proud to make volunteerism in our community highly visible and to help turn all that caring into meaningful action.

Lynne H. Algrant

Monday, July 3, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Krikor, Cliff, and Al!

People find out about the Chore Service in many different ways.  They may read an article about us in the local newspaper; they may hear about us during a presentation at a Senior Center; a nurse or physical therapist may recommend Chore; they see us on our website, Facebook and blog; or people may find out about us via good, old-fashioned word of mouth.  In 2016, 1,497 people were helped by Chore.   

Krikor Babikian, Cliff Hook and Al Ott are the Tuesday, Chore Van #3 crew

Mrs. F. writes: “Thank you for doing such a professional job installing smoke detectors in my home.  I am always passing your phone number to my friends.”

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Elma is a rising senior at Bergen County Technical High School. Elma wants to be a doctor. In fact, she is currently working on creating a Mobile Health Unit for Bergen County for those who are uninsured, undocumented immigrants and those who simply cannot afford healthcare. When Elma is not working on ways to save lives, she enjoys gardening. She has lots of plants so luckily she has a green thumb!

Jackie is a rising sophomore at Santa Clara University, just outside of San Jose, California. She is planning on double majoring in Spanish and Business. She has been a resident of Bergen County for 19 years and graduated from Immaculate Heart Academy. Jackie is very excited to become more involved in her community.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Oggie, Herman, and Joe!

In many cases, the Chore volunteers are some of the only visitors that a home-bound senior may welcome into his/her home.  They bring a ray of sunshine into the lives of our isolated neighbors, in addition to helping make their homes safer.

Sheridan “Oggie” Ogden, Herman Wahlers and Joe Cutolo are the Monday, Chore Van #3  crew.

Mr. Y, the son of a Chore client, writes: “I wanted to thank you for the kindness and quick-thinking of your Chore volunteers.  The other day, they were performing a repair for my mother, who is 90 years old and lives alone.  She suddenly began to have difficulty breathing.  The Chore volunteers quickly found her nebulizer and stayed with her until I arrived.  Thank goodness they were there and knew what to do!”

Learn more about Chore online.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Dennis!

Dennis Beezley drives the Friday Chore Van #3, and has been a Chore volunteer for 7 years.  Prior to his joining Chore, he was a municipal bond trader.  In his spare time, he enjoys golf, cooking and housepet  ‘wrangling’.  He claims he is very skilled at folding laundry except for fitted sheets.   “ I volunteer for Chore because I’ve always like fixing things.  And I like riding around in trucks cracking jokes.”

Through grants from the Bergen County Division of Senior Services and Office of Community Development as well as from corporations, foundations and individual donations, Chore operates three vans and has 45 volunteers.  Crews, comprised of a driver and from one to three volunteers, are on the road every business day year round. To support the work of Chore in Bergen County, visit,   click on “donate now” and mention Chore in special instructions. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Tom!

Tom Veit joined the Thursday, Chore Van #1 crew 5 years ago, after a career in client service and marketing.  In addition to Chore,  Tom actively volunteers with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate for Foster Children) and St. Elizabeth’s Food Ministry, which feeds the poor by redistributing food from local Bergen County supermarkets/stores to food pantries in Paterson, such as Eva’s Kitchen, CUMAC and Oasis, a haven for women and children.  He enjoys fishing, hiking and kayaking.  “I volunteer for Chore because helping the elderly makes me feel good.  It’s not just fixing things for our clients—it is also listening and engaging with them that is rewarding.  I also enjoy the camaraderie of my co-workers.  We are a diverse group with a shared, common goal-- to help the elderly and disabled in Bergen County.”

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


JOHN AMAYA                       
It was the summer of 2016 and I was looking for a place to do my internship. My best friend Gerardo, told me about a place where he volunteers called Bergen Volunteer Center. Gerardo put me in contact with Debbie Emery, one of the sweetest people I have ever met.

I was brought in to work in the front office, which to be truthful, I wasn't sure I wanted to do. It wasn't because I didn’t want to do it, but more so I was self-conscious about my stuttering. The thought of answering the phones and talking to people so concerned me that I almost quit. But luckily I was able to work with such wonderful people as Beanne, Debbie, Eva, Francine and Yami just to name a few. They never seemed to be bothered by my stuttering and were always more than willing to lend me a hand when I was confused about something.

Working at BVC showed me what can be done in a community when the right people are in charge of the resources. Without the help of the BVC, Bergen County wouldn't be the wonderful place it is for the residents who live here. Out of all the many wonderful services BVC provides, my favorite experience was going with Debbie to places like Bergen Community College to help recruit volunteers.

Overall I must say that my time at BVC is one that I will cherish. It inspired me to help out my community more often. I was taught a wonderful lesson at BVC, giving back to the community can be the most satisfying feeling a person can have in life.

Next year, I will be a freshman at New Jersey Institute of Technology majoring in computer engineering.

My name is Alejandra Achury, I'm a high school senior from River Dell Regional High School. I recently spent 5 months volunteering at the Bergen Volunteer Center, which was a very rewarding experience.

The reason I chose BVC was because I want to pursue a career in the non-profit industry. My dream is to do something where I can improve or change the lives of those who need it through a non-profit organization or an international human rights organization. Bergen Volunteer Center seemed to be the perfect fit.

During my internship I helped organize events such as Celebrate Volunteers and Family Volunteer Day. I also answered calls, verified information online and improved the profile of the agencies on the website. But most important, I learned a lot about how essential communication and marketing is to an organization trying to reach and help the community.

This internship allowed me to get out of my comfort zone. I did my best every time I went to the Bergen Volunteer Center and I am grateful to all the people there who taught me so many things.

Next year, I'll be a freshman at Baruch College studying economics.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Lee!

Lee McQuade joined Chore 5 years ago, after a career in Marketing, Sales and Training.  He also continues to work part time, and will be completing his 15th year with Enterprise Fleet Leasing.  He volunteers his time with the Clean Water Cleanup Association.  When not volunteering or working, Lee enjoys   gardening, flying, sailing and hiking and is a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association and the Hackensack River Canoe and Kayak Club.  Lee enjoys volunteering with Chore for the chance to help out elderly neighbors, the enjoyment of being with his Friday, Van #1 crew, and the opportunity to increase his personal  knowledge of ‘Do-It-Yourself’ projects.  “The clients are very appreciative of Chore activities in Bergen County.  Some even have baked goods for us.  We enjoy listening to the clients’ personal  stories of  their own backgrounds and past working experiences.” 

Through grants from the Bergen County Division of Senior Services and Office of Community Development as well as from corporations, foundations and individual donations, Chore operates three vans and has 45 volunteers.  Crews, comprised of a driver and from one to three volunteers, are on the road every business day year round. To support the work of Chore in Bergen County, visit,   click on “donate now” and mention Chore in special instructions. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bergen Volunteer Center Welcomes New Officers and Board Members

The Bergen Volunteer Center is excited to announce our newly elected Officers and Directors:

James Brown of Teaneck, is newly elected 1st Vice President. Mr. Brown is a CPA, Bergen LEADS alumni and a member of many community organizations.

Roberta Sonenfeld of Ridgewood, is the new Treasurer. Ms. Sonenfeld has worked closely with the Center for many years, is on the Bergen LEADS advisory panel and is a former Village Manager for Ridgewood.

Elected to a second, 3-year-term is R. Scott Wolff, a resident of Ho-Ho-Kus. Mr. Wolff is the owner and managing partner of Premier Risk Management.

Now meet our new Board Members:
Paul Thomasset, a resident of Allendale. Mr. Thomasset is a financial advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network.

Donovan Rodrigues, a resident of Englewood. Mr. Rodrigues is a business and entertainment lawyer at Rodrigues Law, PLLC.

Marina Chassipis, a resident of Upper Saddle River. Ms. Chassipis is a management consultant for Axiom Consulting.

From left to right: Bergen Volunteer Center President Michael Stern; CEO Lynne Algrant; New Board Members: Donovan Rodrigues and Paul Thomasset

From left to right: Bergen Volunteer Center Officers: 1st Vice President, James Brown; Board President, Michael Stern; CEO, Lynn Algrant; Secretary, Kathleen Pless; Treasurer, Roberta Sonenfeld and Board Member Mike Smith

The Bergen Volunteer Center turns caring into meaningful action by engaging volunteers to meet community needs. For information about Volunteer Center programs and services, call 201-489-9454 or visit

Monday, June 5, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Sam, Rick & Thom

Through grants from the Bergen County Division of Senior Services and Office of Community Development as well as from corporations, foundations and individual donations, Chore operates three vans and has 45 volunteers.  Crews, comprised of a driver and from one to three volunteers, are on the road every business day year round. To support the work of Chore in Bergen County, visit,   click on “donate now” and mention Chore in special instructions.

Sam Mukherjee, Rick Amato and Thom Fiore are the Thursday, Chore Van #3 crew

Mrs. K writes:  “I appreciate the fine work of your volunteer crews and the patience and personal attention of the office staff.  Chore is a blessing for struggling Bergen County seniors.  I’ve enclosed a small donation which is in no way commensurate with the services performed.” 

Learn more about Chore online at

Monday, May 29, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Cliff!

Cliff Hook has been volunteering for Chore for 4 years, and is part of the Tuesday, Chore Van #3 crew.  He is a CPA and prior to retiring he was the Executive Director of a large international law firm in Manhattan.  He is also involved with The Orpheus Men’s Chorus and AARP Tax-Aide.

Cliff volunteers for Chore because he likes doing repair projects around his 80 year old house, which provides lots of opportunities for repair projects.  After retirement, he thought it would be nice to help others while doing something he enjoys.  He says that working with his fellow volunteers has also been a wonderful experience.

“It is hard to sum up the varied experiences that Chore has provided.  It is very fulfilling to be told, after installing a grab bar in the bathroom of a cancer patient, that ‘we have given her back her life’ because she can now use the bathroom again.  Likewise with the appreciation expressed by the elderly woman who said Chore was helping her stay in the home she loved.  It is hard to see how difficult life has become for some people because of illness or age and to look about and see the photos and memorabilia of better days past.  We do what we can to make things a bit better.  The kindness and caring of my fellow volunteers has amazed and inspired me.”

Learn more about Chore online at

Friday, May 26, 2017

Next Generation LEADers - Part 2

Recently the students in College LEADS at Bergen Community College and Ridgewood Teen LEADS held their presentations of their projects.  These programs, modeled after Bergen LEADS, allow students to take a deep dive into the inner workings of Bergen County and explore how public policy impacts our neighbors.  Both groups of students were breath-taking in their insights, their compassion and their fierce commitment to stay civically engaged.

Ridgewood Teen LEADS

The Ridgewood High School students chose to learn more about poverty in Ridgewood and Bergen County. They found themselves shocked and surprised by the level of poverty in the community of which they had been previously unaware. 

“There are approximately 1,700 people living in poverty in Ridgewood.  Our high school has 1,800 students.”

With site visits to the Bergen County Jail, the Housing, Health and Human Service Center, MEVO Fresh Roots Farm, Share House, Bergen Family Promise and the Center for Food Action, the students learned first- hand about the struggles of those in poverty and the correlation between poverty and educational challenges.

Several students said that they had become much more interested in public policy through the program.  They were shocked that so many in NJ are unable to access federal programs that are meant to help them. And they were dismayed to discover that some programs are poorly designed to help those who need it most.

As part of their project, they held a food drive for the Center for Food Action and will be selling stress balls during exams to raise money for Bergen Family Promise.  Their lasting gift to the community is a website to direct people to services in the community. View the site here,

The future is bright with such compassionate, committed, next generation LEADers.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Next Generation LEADers - Part 1

Recently the students in College LEADS at Bergen Community College and Ridgewood Teen LEADS held their presentations of their projects.  These programs, modeled after Bergen LEADS, allow students to take a deep dive into the inner workings of Bergen County and explore how public policy impacts our neighbors.  Both groups of students were breath-taking in their insights, their compassion and their fierce commitment to stay civically engaged.

College LEADS

This year marked the first time we have offered College LEADS at Bergen Community College.  Although no credit was offered, 40 students willing participated in the program to learn more about the community.  They chose to study the heroin and opioid epidemic plaguing Bergen County.  With site visits to the Bergen County Jail, the Housing, Health and Human Service Center, Paramus Police Department, Paramus Ambulance Corp, Holy Name Medical Center Emergency Department, Spring House and the CarePlus Outpatient program and teachers and administrators of the Riverdell School District, the students gained incredible insight into struggles of addiction and recovery.

Their presentation was marked by sensitivity and compassion.  Each student spoke of how moved they were by the honesty and courage of those in recovery.  They were awed by the commitment of recovery counselors and staff members at their site visits.

Most importantly, each student spoke of a renewed commitment to help others understand the disease of addiction and to helping reduce the stigma so that people can confidently seek help.

One student ended the presentation by quoting one of his favorite movies as a child “Barnyard:”
“A strong man stands up for himself; a stronger man stands up for others.”
Here is a short film they created:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Rick!

Rick Amato has been a part of the Thursday, Chore Van #3 crew for the past 8 years.  Previously, he worked professionally as a draftsman for Florian Greenhouses in West Milford.  When his sons were growing up, he was a stay at home dad and was very happy to be a big part of his children’s  school and after school lives. Once they graduated high school, he made the choice to spend time volunteering.  A friend who was involved with the Bergen Volunteer Center suggested Chore because of Rick’s love of doing home improvements.  When he is not volunteering, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, and all types of fishing—freshwater, saltwater and ice fishing.  “I work with Chore because I believe that using the talents God gave me to help others is a gift.  I am thankful for the opportunity to help seniors—what we do for them truly makes their lives easier.”

Learn more about Chore online at

Monday, May 15, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Ed, Claude, and Pete!

The typical Chore client lives in an older, single family home built before 1950.  Most are widows whose late husbands used to perform all the household repairs.  Many have no family or other support nearby to help.

Ed Morandi, Claude Guillemain and Pete Tilgner are the Monday, Chore Van #2 crew.

Mrs. Z writes: “I was feeling low this morning, and the Chore crew lifted my spirits just by being here.  I miss my husband—he used to do all this stuff.”

Learn more about Chore online at

Monday, May 8, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Joe V!

Joe Vaccaro is one of Chore’s most recent volunteers, joining the Thursday, Chore Van #2 crew in January, 2017.  Before he retired he was a carpenter/contractor, and he brings those skills to us, to ensure the safety of our elderly and disabled neighbors in their homes.  He enjoys wood carving in his spare time.  “I volunteer for Chore to use my skills to help those in need.”

To celebrate this incredibly impactful program that enables thousands of seniors and disabled individuals to live safely and independently in their homes, please join us at the 40th Anniversary of Chore BeefsteakDinner!

Saturday, May 13, 2017
6 pm -10 pm
Camp Merritt-Cresskill American Legion
Tickets are $50
Includes dinner, soda, beer, wine and dessert!  Catered by Nightingale!
Entertainment provided by the Flying Ivories Dueling Pianos!

Visit or call 201-489-9454 to purchase your tickets TODAY!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Meet the Chore Volunteers - Terry!

Before joining Chore in 2008, Terry O’Connor’s line of work was in Advertising and Marketing Research.  He is a member of the Tuesday, Chore Van #1 crew.  When asked if he had any hobbies other than volunteering for Chore, he said ‘ Bothering wife, embarrassing children and scandalizing grandchildren’.  Of course this response was tongue-in-cheek, as he is extremely earnest about why he volunteers for Chore.  As Terry sees it, he is proud that he and his crew fill the needs of the elderly who don’t have children or relatives nearby,  by replacing bulbs, installing grab bars and testing smoke alarms, among other jobs.  “Growing up I was never told by my parents or teachers that I was going to heaven; it was quite the reverse in fact.  A number of Chore clients have assured me that I was headed there.  As I get older, I welcome such assurances. On a serious note, Chore gives us the opportunity to keep someone safer or more comfortable or simply happier with his/her life.  That makes us all feel better!”

To celebrate this incredibly impactful program that enables thousands of seniors and disabled individuals to live safely and independently in their homes, please join us at the 40th Anniversary of Chore BeefsteakDinner!

Saturday, May 13, 2017
6 pm -10 pm
Camp Merritt-Cresskill American Legion
Tickets are $50
Includes dinner, soda, beer, wine and dessert!  Catered by Nightingale!
Entertainment provided by the Flying Ivories Dueling Pianos!

Visit or call 201-489-9454 to purchase your tickets TODAY!