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, http://bergenservices.weebly.com/.

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:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9l-LMHcJjY&t=1s.

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 http://bergenvolunteers.org/chore-service.html.

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 http://bergenvolunteers.org/chore-service.html.

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 bergenvolunteers.org/chore-beefsteak.html 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 bergenvolunteers.org/chore-beefsteak.html or call 201-489-9454 to purchase your tickets TODAY!