Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Very Special Thank You

As the year draws to a close, we are grateful to those who have helped us to help others do good and feel good by volunteering in their community. We continue to be astounded, even after 42 years, by what can be accomplished through generous gifts of time, talent and treasure. Despite a challenging economy, we have seen an outpouring of concern and compassion for our most at-risk neighbors and citizens. People in and near Bergen County have made a conscious effort to take care of our neighbors during this difficult period and together we have made our community even stronger. Thank you for your support and interest in the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Last Minute Gift

A last minute gift to the Volunteer Center is truly one that keeps on giving. Since 1966, the Volunteer Center has been strengthening the Bergen County community by connecting people with opportunities to serve, while also providing programs and services that greatly enhance our community.

With the continuing downward spiral in the economy, we foresee increased demand for our services, including an increased need for volunteers. By supporting our work with a donation, you can ensure that our efforts will continue to make Bergen County an even better place in which to work and live.

You can also choose to give the gift of a donation to the Volunteer Center to someone on your list. Just click here to make a donation online via a secure credit card transaction. Simply include the person's name in the box "This donation is in honor of". Be sure to include their name and address, and we will send an acknowledgement of your gift within 48 hours, as long as you make your donation by noon on December 23rd. Thank you!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Workshop on Fundamentals of Grant Writing

Grants are key to the funding success of most nonprofits, and to help our colleagues learn how to do it right, our Non Profit Training and Resource Center is presenting a "Fundamentals of Grant Writing" workshop on Tuesday, January 13, 2009. The workshop will run from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm in our offices at 64 Passaic Street, Hackensack; cost is $35 and includes continental breakfast and course materials.

Competition is fierce for every available charitable dollar, and nonprofits not only have to target proposals to specific prospects, but also have to submit impeccably written and presented materials. This beginning level course includes an an introduction to foundation research as well as principles of grant writing. Participants will learn to navigate tricky grant guidelines and organize information into clear, concise proposals.

This workshop is just one of a series designed specifically for staff and volunteers in non-profit agencies. Like all of our trainings, this one is highly interactive and hands-on, providing an enjoyable and meaningful learning experience.

Registration and payment are required in advance; the deadline to register is January 9, 2009. For information or to register:
phone: 201-489-9454, ext.114

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Party Time

The Chore luncheon of over 50 guests was fun and well organized, and the food from Fairmount Eats was a big hit! It's always fun to see the guys 'dressed up' and loving to chat with each other, and they really showed their mettle in helping get all the tables ready for the next event. What a crew! This doesn't just happen, I know; they got superb direction from our competent staff leadership.

The Mentoring Moms breakfast was HUGE (more than 150!) and hugely fun. Everyone seemed to have a good time and the arts&crafts kept lots of kids busy and happy. Food and give-aways were plentiful and greatly appreciated by the moms. Tara did a great job with the karaoke, and the steadfast Santa with the beautiful velvet suit and warm heart stole the show!

Finally, rounding out the weekend of parties was the VIPS party and boy was it a smash! So many people, so many volunteers, so much food, so much fun. Scott Reedin, DJ extraordinaire, and the PTK grads kept things hopping, and Dave from Quest was an admirable Santa. It was great party due to the preparation and organization that went into it, everything turned out beautifully.
UPS Employee volunteers.

Volunteers from the Hackensack High School Interact Club.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Go Shopping for the Volunteer Center

While shopping online this holiday season, you can help the Volunteer Center with every purchase. Through igive.com, a percentage of every purchase you make can go to the Volunteer Center, or another charity of your choice. There are over 600 stores to shop from, including favorites like Target, Barnes & Noble, Gap and much more. Just go to igive.com and enter "Volunteer Center of Bergen County" in the cause keyword search. It only takes a minute to register and $5 will be donated to the Volunteer Center right off the bat if you sign up and shop within 45 days. Shop 'til you drop!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fairmount Playground Volunteers!

On October 10, the Business Volunteer Council (BVC) coordinated the efforts of over 60 volunteers to help build Hackensack's newest community space, the Fairmount Playground! BVC volunteers came from Amper, BD, Cole Schotz, Hudson City Savings Bank, PSE&G, Spectra Labs, the Volunteer Center, and our new friends at 3M! United Water also contributed volunteers and other resources throughout the planning stages and the during the five-day build.

The BVC was on hand to snap some photos of our crews on October 10.

You can find out more about the playground and see pictures of the result at the project website at http://fairmountplayground.clubspaces.com.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Anchors AWAY! Chore grabs an incredible donation.

Our Chore Service is the lucky recipient of 7,000 wall anchors generously donated by Benjamin Brothers, the Tenafly hardware store, and The Hillman Group. Volunteers with Chore will put the anchors to good use in installing more than 1,000 bathroom grab bars and interior banisters for elderly or disabled people in Bergen County. Pictured here are Walter Johnson (left), proprietor of Benjamin Brothers, with dedicated Chore volunteers Bob Nafash, River Edge; George Hartwick, Emerson; John Tercek, Dumont; and Elliott Wolk, Secaucus.

Volunteers with the Chore Service perform minor home repairs that keep the elderly and disabled safe in their homes.
Handypeople are invited to join Chore by calling (201) 489-7790.

Monday, November 3, 2008

It's never too early to get "All Wrapped Up" in the holiday spirit!

The holidays are fast approaching, and the Volunteer Center's annual All Wrapped Up holiday giving program is in full swing! We've been gathering information since August about people in need and determining their holiday "wish list" requests. On November 3 we'll begin matching them with volunteer donors from the community who will fulfill these wishes, bringing some holiday cheer to those who need it the most. In many cases, the requests are for very basic items, such as winter coats, warm sweaters, slippers, etc. or toys for children, which may be the only gifts they receive. Gift cards for supermarkets and discount department stores are on everyone's list, too.

Individuals, families, civic groups, corporations and business associations are encouraged to "adopt" an individual or a family in need. Click here for detailed information, including a simple form that you can complete and submit online. Soon after, you will be contacted with information about the individual or family you have "adopted" for the holidays. You can also call us at 201-489-9454, ext. 118 (Debbie Emery).

Times are tough, so please do whatever you can to help our neighbor’s right here in Bergen County have a happier holiday!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Volunteer Center Blog!

To think it was just one year ago that we launched our blog with a posting about a Volunteer Center banner adorning the Ridgewood train trestle. And now, nearly 500 people visit our blog every month. We're delighted to be able to share stories instantaneously, and it's very exciting to see readers take an interest!

In celebration of this momentous anniversary, we're giving away an awesome Tommy Hilfiger polo shirt to the first 5 friends who wish our Blog "Happy Birthday"! Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Program Perks for VIPS Kids

It has been a busy time for the kids in the Volunteers in Protective Services mentoring program. On Saturday, October 4, 44 mentors and children ventured over the bridge to the world famous Bronx Zoo. The group spent a beautiful day laughing together over the gorillas' antics and being grossed out by cockroaches.

On the bus on the way back home, one of the young mentees told a mentor that she loved getting together because it was just like being with your family, everyone accepts you as you are. It was a powerful moment that expressed what VIPS is all about. Everyone had a blast and can't wait until next year's trip.

On Friday, October 3, two young teens who are mentored through VIPS had the once in a lifetime opportunity to meet Ugly Betty star America Ferrera and tour the New York set where they film the show. The girls were given the opportunity thanks to the kindness of a new VIPS mentor, Mike Anthony. Mike, who is a movie and TV set manager, arranged the tour to the Ugly Betty soundstage. The girls were awed by the amount of work that goes into making a TV show. Ferrera posed with the girls for pictures and left a great impression that the girls will never forget.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Night at the Races

The Bergen County Business Volunteer Council (BVC) held their annual Night at the Races event on Friday, October 3rd at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford. It was a winning night for all involved; $12,300 was raised to benefit the BVC’s mission to help low income children and families. Guests were asked to bring paper products with them to benefit the Family Assistance Center at the Teaneck Armory, and pictured here is the mountain of paper products that were collected for the families of men and women serving in Iraq.

Guests mingled under the stars, enjoying a BBQ buffet as they picked their winning horses and perused the silent auction, which had great prizes including a Vince Carter signed basketball, Devil’s Hockey tickets, and an “Adult Sleepover” package which included a bottle of wine and hotel room at the Woodcliff Lake Hilton.

The night was a lot of fun and a great success, due to the BVC.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hip Hop Connections

It's no secret that Hip Hop is a popular music genre, but what exactly is it and where did it come from? To find out and to provide an event that was a bit more than just fun, the Volunteer Center's mentoring programs - Volunteers in Protective Services (VIPS) and Mentoring Moms - recently brought in a troupe of musicians and dancers from New York City who did a performance/workshop called Hip Hop Connections. 30 mentors, children and their families enjoyed the interactive musical experience, learning about where Hip Hop came from (combination of African, blues, spirituals, funk, rock 'n roll) and gaining a new and deeper appreciation of hip-hop style, music and dance. The kids, who ranged in age from 8 to 16, surprised the adults in attendance with their knowledge of all kinds of music and their willingness to particpate. Everyone learned a lot and had a hip-hopping good time!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

13th Annual Bergen Bike Tour

On Sunday, September 28, more than 300 riders braved the wet weather and came out to Darlington Park for the 13th Annual Bergen Bike Tour and helped make the day a huge success! The Bergen Bike Tour is a completely volunteer-driven event that to date has raised over $1 million for the Volunteer Center of Bergen County and Tomorrows Children's Fund at Hackensack University Medical Center. With rides of 10, 25 and 50 miles, there is a route for every ability level. The Ford Kids' Event featured a special Kids' Ride, as well as face painting, pumpkin painting, crafts, games, giveaways and more. Riders, as well as their friends and family, enjoyed breakfast donated by Dunkin' Donuts of Ramsey and a home-cooked picnic lunch with food supplied by Inserra Supermarkets, while DJ Scott Reddin got everyone dancing in the rain to some great tunes! Volunteers from the Healing Hands Institute massaged the riders aching muscles, and nearly 100 more volunteers were on hand to help make the day safe and fun for all.

Major sponsors included Howard Schwartz and Family; Ford Motor Company; TD Banknorth; Amper, Politziner & Mattia; Citibank; Columbia Bank; Eisai; PNC Bank; Tanis & Sons; Ramsey Auto Group and WebMD. For a complete list of sponsors and more information about the Bergen Bike Tour, click here.

Thanks to all of our sponsors, volunteers, riders and the Bergen Bike Tour Committee for a great day!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kids Learn About P.R.I.D.E.

One of life's most important lessons is learning how to make choices. Children being mentored through our VIPS (Volunteers in Protective Services) and Mentoring Moms programs got a first hand look at the importance of making choices when inmates of the state prison came to talk about how good people can make bad choices. Presented by the N.J. Department of Corrections and known as Project P.R.I.D.E. (Promoting Responsibility In Drug Education), the program went way beyond teaching the kids and their mentors about drugs. It brought home the realization that choices have consequences and that the wrong choices can have dire consequences. As painful as the stories of the young prisoners were to hear, they were also inspirational and compelling.

"By the end of the evening, all of us in attendance were rooting for these young people who had made some bad choices that will affect the rest of their lives. More importantly, the children were listening and heard the message," said Cheryl Carroll, VIPS Program Director.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Seniors Meet in the Park

Every September we have the distinct pleasure of joining with literally thousands of seniors at the annual Bergen County Senior Picnic at Van Saun Park in Paramus. The County Division of Senior Services puts on quite a show, and agencies are invited to attend. We, of course, went with the intent of recruiting enthusiastic volunteers for our RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program) and our Chore Service.

Enthusiasm is the key word here! The weather was absolutely perfect, and we were literally overrun by many of the approximately 3,200 seniors in attendance who took the opportunity, in the midst of enjoying live music, dancing, lunch and craft displays, to stop by our booth for a chat.

RSVP matches seniors with volunteer positions where their time and talent can have real impact in meeting community needs. Chore offers volunteer handypersons the opportunity to perform minor home repairs that keep the elderly or disabled safe in their homes.

If you are interested in learning more:
about RSVP: call Barbara Wiederecht at 201-489-9333
about Chore: call Maureen McCormick at 201-489-7990

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hot Diggity Dog!

Employees of Quest Diagnostics are going above and beyond to garner support for our Volunteers in Protective Services (VIPS) program which provides mentors for abused an neglected children.

On August 20 Quest sponsored the 5th Annual “Rutt’s Hut Challenge”, a hot dog eating contest in which five very enthusiastic employees plowed through hot dogs for 30 minutes until a champion was crowned. Reigning champion Art “The Animal” Diaz ripped through 11 hot dogs to be the victor once again.

Quest employees have raised over $13,000 to date, with funds used to provide recreational and educational enhancement activities for the kids in the VIPS program.

”The children in our program are in desperate need of a little fun and attention in their lives,” says Cheryl Carroll, VIPS Program Director. “We’re delighted that Quest has chosen to help them in such a creative way.”

“This contest is one of the most fun and rewarding events we sponsor," says Dave Hertzel, chair of Quest’s reach! committee, which coordinates the event. "The spontaneous spirit, the collaboration of all involved, and the joy of helping children so deserving of our employees’ efforts has been a wonderful spectacle to behold.”

For more information on the VIPS program or other Volunteer Center services please visit www.bergenvolunteers.org.

Pictured above is Dave Hertzel, Quest employees, VC Executive Director Janet Sharma, and VIPS Director Cheryl Carroll.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

So...what's an “episodic volunteer”?

An “episodic volunteer” is an individual who does one-time or short-term volunteer jobs. These volunteers are generally busy people with hectic schedules -- jobs, family or social commitments --that make them prefer flexible volunteer opportunities.

Types of Episodic Volunteering:
* One-day special events or service projects, such as "walk-a-thons", service days or park cleanups
* Projects that recruit volunteers as needed throughout the year, such as helping with projects at a group home or Vets hospital or children's agency
* On-going activities that don't require specialized skills and welcome volunteers on a flexible, drop in basis such as Habitat for Humanity

Volunteer Ventures, which is sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, help busy adults participate in episodic volunteer activities. Take a look at our monthly newsletter and calendar of projects. Come to a bi-monthly meeting where you'll meet other Volunteer Ventures participants and find out what's going on.

Sign up and catch the volunteer fever! You'll be glad you did!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Primed for PYLI

Early in July, the Volunteer Center trained a group of Korean American students at Prime Institute in Ridgefield, NJ in the Points of Light Youth Leadership Institute (PYLI).

Seventeen teens spent four days exploring leadership, the team-building process and community service. The ultimate purpose of PYLI is to help create stronger communities by training future leaders who will be equipped to make meaningful, lifelong contributions to their communities. PYLI provides an interesting and exciting curriculum, including classroom instruction and a variety of fun and challenging group exercises.

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County is certified to present PYLI to groups of students, both in school and in community organizations. The curriculum is flexible and can be presented during school, after school, during school breaks or during the summer. To find out how you or your school or youth group can participate in PYLI, call the Volunteer Center at 201-489-9454, ext. 118 or email demery@bergenvolunteers.org.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Brown Bag Buddies is on TV!

NY Channel 1 recently featured Brown Bag Buddies, a program of the Volunteer Center's Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council (BVC). Brown Bag Buddies was created to ease the burden of hunger for Bergen County children. For the past eight years, employees of member companies of the BVC have been donating food items to Brown Bag Buddies to help fill the Center for Food Action pantries in locations throughout Bergen County.

"July and August, believe it or not, are the busiest months of the whole year, because the kids are home from school," said Thelma Fedele, director of community and government relations for the Center for Food Action. "They're not getting their school lunches or breakfasts, and at the same time, our donations of food go down."

Click here to watch this in depth interview and read more about the program.

For more information on the Brown Bag Buddies Program or the BVC, please call 201-489-9454, ext. 119.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Makeovers for Mentoring Moms

The Parisian Beauty Academy hosted the second annual "Makeover Event" for the Mentoring Moms program. Over 50 moms, mentors and children were treated to haircuts, facials and manicures throughout the evening. All the services were free and stylists donated their time for the event. It was a fun night for everyone, especially for the moms who often can't afford such pampering. According to one mom, "This was such a treat - I haven't been to a hairdresser in years!" The Mentoring Moms program recruits, screens, trains and supervises caring mentors for overwhelmed mothers in need of guidance and support.

For more information on the Mentoring Moms program or how you can help please visit the Volunteer Center of Bergen County’s website.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Volunteer Center Embraces Technology by Using Facebook

On Saturday, July 26, Record columnist Harvy Lipman reported on the rise of non-profit organizations utilizing social-networking websites such as Facebook, MySpace and YouTube to attract younger volunteers and donors. The Volunteer Center of Bergen County's Facebook page was highlighted and staff member Melissa Leibe commented on our presence on the web and the VolunTEENS website. To read the full article from the Record, click here.

To visit our Volunteer Center Facebook page click here:
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To visit our VolunTEEN Facebook page click here:
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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

BVC Supports Books in a Bag

Members of the Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council (BVC) recently collected and distributed more than 3,300 new children’s books during the 6th Annual Books in a Bag campaign to promote early literacy. The books were donated to pre-school children in northern New Jersey.

The campaign kicked off on March 3rd, “Read Across America Day”. More than 40 volunteers from BVC member companies read books aloud to classes at Head Start sites in Bergen County. This year’s participating companies included UPS, Hudson City Savings Bank, Spectra Labs, TD Banknorth, BD, Benjamin Moore Paints, BMW of North America, Kelly Services, United Way of Bergen County, and AT&T Mobility. The campaign is underwritten by Pearson Education in Upper Saddle River. Additional sponsorship support came from Quest Diagnostics, Reader’s Digest Books Are Fun, and United Water. Thank you sponsors!!!

The Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council is sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County and is a coalition of 31 businesses that work year-round to provide assistance to needy children and families. For more information on membership in the BVC, please call Tess Tomasi at 201-489-9454 Ext.114 or e-mail BVC@bergenvolunteers.org, or visit www.nnjbvc.org.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Welcome Bergen LEADS Class of 2009!

The Bergen LEADS Class of 2009 was introduced at a reception at Bergen Community College on June 18. All 30 class members were joined by members of the Bergen LEADS Advisory Panel, Selection Committee and Community Panel, as well as friends and well-wishers. Click here for a list of class members: http://www.bergenleads.org/currentclass.html.

Pictured at right, William “Pat” Schuber, former Bergen County Executive and Bergen LEADS Seminar Director talks with Mary Connolly, LEADS Class of 2009 (Gilda’s Club) and Janet Sharma, executive director of the Volunteer Center.

Bergen LEADS is a new community leadership program designed to draw a diverse group of leaders from across Bergen County, then teach them about community issues, develop and strengthen their leadership skills and encourage them to give back to their communities.

The inaugural class will begin with an opening retreat on September 22 and continue until June 2009. For more information, visit our website at www.bergenleads.org or call Amanda Missey at 201-489-9454 x119.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Companies Needed for Summer Food Drives for Children

Hundreds of children from needy families receive hot breakfast and lunch during the school year through subsidized school meal programs. When schools close for summer vacation, these meals are not available, and low-income families are often unable to fill the void, many having to make the choice between paying rent or going hungry.
Companies are needed to host employee food drives during the summer to help these families. The Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council (BVC) is coordinating a summer food drive with both its member companies and other interested companies, to collect “kid-friendly”, non-perishable breakfast and lunch food items. The food collected during this initiative, entitled “Brown Bag Buddies”, will be delivered to the Center for Food Action and other local food pantries during the months of July and August.

In 2007, $15,085 worth of food and grocery gift cards was distributed through “Brown Bag Buddies”. The goal for 2008 is $20,000. The sponsors for this year’s drive are BD, Rockland Electric, Sealed Air and Compensation Solutions. Pictured here, BD employees Jennifer Farrington, Ellen Rafferty and Lisa Cohen collect kid-friendly food for "Brown Bag Buddies" which will run through August.

Companies can request a free information kit that describes the program and provides “how-to” instructions on running an employee food drive, by calling (201) 489-9454 Ext. 114 or email ttomasi@bergenvolunteers.org.

The Volunteer Center goes Web 2.0

The Volunteer Center has entered a new age. Now you can add us to your Myspace friends or your Facebook page! See you on the web.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

"Reflections" take over Mentoring Programs

Volunteers and their mentees with our Volunteers in Protective Services (VIPS) and Mentoring Moms programs recently enjoyed a fabulous night of improvisational theatre dealing with issues that really hit home. Presented by "Reflections," a teen improvisational group that is run through the Bergen County Department of Human Services-Division of Family Guidance, the performance included true-to-life and thoroughly entertaining skits dealing with such issues as anger displacement, gossip, and communication (or the lack thereof) between parents and kids. Staci Block is director of the improv group, which engages student volunteer actors from all over Bergen County who creatively enacted situations that teens, parents and mentors could readily respond to.

Mentoring Moms Program Director, Cindy Andrake said, “It was funny, entertaining and educational for all in attendance. Everyone laughed some and learned a lot about themselves as well as their family.”

The Volunteer Center’s mentoring programs recruit, screen, train and supervise caring mentors for children who have been abused or neglected (VIPS) or for mothers who are overwhelmed and need some extra guidance and/or are moving from welfare to work (Mentoring Moms).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

To be...or not to be....a 501(c)(3)?

Non-Profit Incorporation Training
Should your group or business file to be an IRS-recognized nonprofit? Do you need to create a charitable agency for your cause? If so, find out about the benefits and challenges of incorporating at the free Neighbor Academy training "Non-Profit Incorporation" on Monday, June 2nd from 7-9 PM at the Volunteer Center. The training will be presented by an attorney from Pro Bono Partners and is sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County's Non-Profit Training Institute. This training is free, but pre-registration is required. To register, simply send an email to training@bergenvolunteers.org with the following information:

Email Address:
Phone Number:
(Don't forget to let us know that you are registering for Non-Profit Incorporation)

For more information about our training programs, visit us online at http://www.bergenvolunteers.org/agency_services.htm.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Jayantha Fernando Recognized for Volunteering

Congratulations to Volunteer Ventures member Jayantha Fernando for receiving the 2008 Wachovia Northern NJ Volunteer of the Year Award! Volunteer Ventures is a program sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County that provides evening and weekend volunteer projects for busy, working adults. Jayantha volunteered over 300 hours in the past year alone!

She helped set up for functions and assisted frail clients at the Care One facility in Ridgewood, cared for children while their parents attended programs of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources and helped at concerts of the Palisades Virtuosi. Jayantha also helped Shelter our Sisters, a domestic violence shelter, by wrapping gifts at the mall to raise funds, helping with family picnics, mentoring victims of domestic violence, and helping in the administrative office. She also helped raise funds for Youth Education in the Arts, regularly visits people with disabilities at homes sponsored by Spectrum for Living, and is a permanent volunteer at Holy Name Hospital’s gift shop.

Congratulations to Jayantha! She is an inspiration to many!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chore Van Needed

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County's Chore Service helps senior citizens (age 60 and over) and disabled homeowners of all ages remain safe and secure in their homes by performing minor household repairs that they can neither do themselves nor get anyone else to do. Services are provided by Chore’s crew of 21 volunteer handypersons working as crews with paid drivers. There is no charge for Chore’s services, but clients are expected to pay for the parts necessary to complete the repair.

In 2007 alone, Chore made more than 3,700 home repairs for the elderly and/or disabled throughout Bergen County. Currently, Chore crews utilize two older cargo vans to get to and from each repair job and to transport supplies. There is usually a 3-week wait time for a visit from Chore. The vans are often in need of repair, so unfortunately the wait time is sometimes even longer. In order for Chore to help more elderly and disabled people, we desperately need two new vans plus an additional van. A new van with all the customizations and supplies necessary for Chore costs approximately $40,000. If you know of an individual or company that would like to sponsor a Chore van, please call us at 201-489-9454, ext. 126.

“Nuts and Bolts” of Service Learning – May 12

Teachers, counselors and administrators will learn first hand about the do’s-and-don’ts, ins-and-outs and nuts-and-bolts of service learning at a special half-day conference on Monday, May 12. The mini-conference will be held in the Technology Center at Bergen Community College from 8:30AM-noon.

Service-learning combines academic work with service to the community; students learn by doing and at the same time help to meet important needs in the school or in the community. When done well, service learning energizes and motivates students, and the result can be improved grades, increased attendance in school and a heightened sense of personal and social responsibility.

Keynote speaker will be Linda V. Rivera, program officer for the Learn and Serve America School Based Program at the N.J. Department of Education, who will be followed by a panel of teachers and administrators at area schools and community organizations discussing their current and highly successful service learning initiatives. A highlight of the conference will be the presentation by students and staff at Teaneck High School of their service learning project that combines study of Homer’s Odyssey with providing assistance to families who have a member serving in the military in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The cost of this unique and informative conference is $50 per person. For more information or to register, contact Debbie Emery at (201) 489-9454, ext. 118, or demery@bergenvolunteers.org.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Celebrating Volunteers in Style!

Well over 300 volunteers from across Bergen County received a public "pat on the back" at the Volunteer Center's annual "Celebrate Volunteers" event, which was held on Wednesday, April 9. The Grieco Auditorium at the Bergen Academies in Hackensack was filled as representatives of 38 nonprofit and government agencies, schools, and libraries brought with them the dedicated volunteers they wished to honor. Brenda Blackmon, co-anchor of My9News, led the festivities, and County Executive Dennis McNerny conveyed to those present the gratitude of the people of Bergen County and especially of those who are helped by the good work of volunteers. Outstanding entertainment was provided by the Hackensack High School Chorus, which presented selections from the Broadway hit Pippin. The Volunteer Center's executive director, Janet Sharma closed the program with an inspiring poem by Maya Angelou, the last lines of which are:
"...People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Generous corporate sponsors of "Celebrate Vounteers" are Sony Electronics, 201-Best of Bergen Magazine, Bergen County's United Way, Inserra Supermarkets and Lakeland Bank. A wonderful time was had by all!

*Pictured above are our very own Volunteer Ventures honorees, Mary Gray, Earlene Smith, and Joanne Slawenski. To see more photos from the night please click here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

RSVP Web Page - Up and Ready to Go

Are you age 55+ and looking to volunteer? Click here to get started! RSVP of Bergen County has a new and improved web page, which includes resources for seniors who are new to volunteering as well as useful information for more experienced volunteers. Learn about the many benefits to volunteering, including the health benefits of giving back to your community, and how volunteering can give you experience in a variety of interesting fields. RSVP is a nation-wide program sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service to engage people age 55 and older in meaningful volunteer community service. However, you do not have to be retired to volunteer with RSVP! For more information about RSVP, call 201-489-9399.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Corporate Volunteerism Conference

Registration is still open for the Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council’s conference, Innovations in Corporate Volunteerism: Realizing the Human Capital Potential, on Friday, April 18, 2008 from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm at The Hilton Woodcliff Lake. Through the generous sponsorship of PSE&G, this conference will address corporate social responsibility and employee engagement, with industry leaders hosting workshops on various aspects of this fast-emerging field.

Keynote speaker will be Nina Mitchell Wells, Esq., New Jersey Secretary of State, who oversees the Department of State’s diverse operating agencies, including the Governor’s Office of Volunteerism.

Conference workshops include
Creating an Employee Volunteer Program (EVP)
Skills-based Employee Volunteering
Engaging Retirees in your EVP
The Importance of Social Responsibility in Recruiting and Retaining Generation Y
Strategies for Internal EVP Communications

The Salute to Employee Volunteers luncheon, sponsored by BD, will be held immediately following the conference, with free admission for conference participants.

The conference fee ($175 per person; $150 for BVC members) includes printed materials, continental breakfast, workshops, networking, and the Luncheon. Each attendee is asked to bring a box of healthy, non-sugar cereal to support “Brown Bag Buddies”, the BVC’s summer food drive for hungry children.

For more information about the conference or BVC membership, contact Tess Tomasi at (201) 489-9454, x114, or ttomasi@bergenvolunteer.org, or visit our website at www.nnjbvc.org.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Volunteer Narrative - The Simple Things

“The Simple Things”
By Corry DeMarco, Ventures Member

Most of us complain that our hectic schedules don’t allow us time to enjoy the simple things in life. Stuck on multitasking?

At Spectrum for Living* you can slow down and enjoy the simple things, while also helping your fellow man. A visit to the Maywood group home is a telling example.

When you enter the comfortable home you immediately feel at ease; and when you see the friendly, expectant faces of the residents, you can’t help but grin back!

You’ll feel yourself draw in a deep, relaxing breath for the first time all day. Then its time to bring out the board games, puzzles, drawing paper… even playdoh! You’ll find that the activities that used to bring us so much joy years ago still do the trick! As you concentrate on a puzzle with the residents you’ll feel the stress from your workday slowly recede to the background.

When is the last time you allowed yourself the time to enjoy a good laugh? Typically at work we may allow ourselves a brief half-smile before moving on with business. But the open, playful personalities of the residents always set the stage for sharing a good laugh. These events are also a good opportunity to meet other volunteers you may not have had the opportunity to get to know.

So my advice for handling that stressful, crazy workday? Head right over to a Spectrum event… your tense shoulders (and the Spectrum residents,) will thank you for it!

* Spectrum for Living is a nonprofit organization that provides services and operates group homes for adults with developmental disabilities.

For more information on Volunter Ventures and other programs like this one please call Debbie Emery at 201-489-9454, ext. 118.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Derby Day will be a Winner with Bill Ervolino and Fabulous Foods

Get your Derby on! The Volunteer Center's fantastic, fun and fabulous Derby Day party is all set for May 3rd at a private garden in Alpine. We are pleased to announce that Record columnist Bill Ervolino (left) has once again signed on to be the auctioneer for the exciting live auction, featuring select items, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, travel opportunities and more.

Fabulous Foods Boutique Caterers (above, right) of Moonachie is creating southern delicacies featuring old and new traditions of Kentucky Derby cuisine - including favorites like sliders with Henry Bain sauce, Kentucky hot browns, pecan tassies, and of course, the perfect Mint Julep. Fabulous Foods' trademark cutting-edge cuisine uses fresh, organic ingredients to create food as beautiful as it is delicious.

Join us for this wonderful event -- great music, dancing, games, prizes, silent and live auctions and, of course, the Kentucky Derby will make it a day to remember!!

Tickets are $100 per person and sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, please call 201-489-9454, ext. 125. See you at the Derby!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Volunteer Center Updates!

Bergen Leads News
We’ve officially launched the Bergen LEADS website – www.bergenleads.org. Check out this dynamic new community leadership program – find an information session near you where you can talk to staff and learn more! Applications are due April 18.

Celebrate Volunteers!
Celebrate Volunteers, a community-wide recognition event of the many ways volunteers enhance our community will take place on Wednesday, April 9, at 6:30p. Come and help celebrate those who make a difference in our community. Brenda Blackmon, popular news anchor with My(NY will be our master of ceremonies, and entertainment will be provided by the Hackensack High School Music Program under the direction of John Zisa. Tickets are $10.

For tickets ($10 each) please visit www.bergenvolunteers.org or call Melissa Leibe at 201-489-9454, ext. 127.

Youth Volunteerism
Planning has started for half-day conference on the Nuts and Bolts of Service Learning. The Volunteer Center welcomes middle/high school teachers and faculty advisors to learn about service learning and youth volunteer opportunities in Bergen County. Linda Rivera, Service Learning Advisor, from the NJ State Department of Education will discuss state initiatives and services for schools developing or implementing service learning courses.

For more information on this event or to join the mailing list please contact Debbie Emery at 201-489-9454, ext. 118.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Celebrate Volunteers in Bergen County!

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County will host its annual Celebrate Volunteers recognition event on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at the Bergen Academies auditorium in Hackensack. Beginning with a 6:30 pm dessert reception, the evening will feature an inspiring program highlighting the ways in which volunteers enhance the community. Brenda Blackmon, popular news anchor for My 9 News, will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

Entertainment will be provided by the Hackensack High School Music Program, under the direction of John Zisa. John Zisa, who performed himself in 2005, was one of the Top 40 contestants on Season 3 of American Idol.

Public and private non-profit organizations, hospitals, libraries, religious organizations and schools in Bergen County are invited to bring volunteers and staff, to this non-competitive, community-wide event. Each organization can choose to honor its top volunteers based on its own criteria for determining exemplary volunteer achievement, such as impact, dedication and loyalty.

Reservations are on a first come, first served basis, and are due by April 1, 2008. The cost is $10.00 per person. Call (201) 489-9454 ext. 127 to reserve a place.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

TD Banknorth Awards Grant to Develop Bergen Leadership Program

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County has received a grant of $20,000 from TD Banknorth through the TD Banknorth Charitable Foundation to underwrite the cost of developing Bergen LEADS, an exciting new program that will prepare the next generation of leaders to tackle the challenges and embrace the opportunities found in Bergen County.

Bergen LEADS is a year-long community leadership and learning experience for adults who live and/or work in Bergen County. The interactive and experiential curriculum will address critical issues facing the Bergen County community, while offering participants the opportunity to understand and develop their leadership style. A critical component of the curriculum is community trusteeship, in which participants will learn to use their new-found knowledge of the community of affect positive change.

Pictured at left are Amanda Missey, Bergen LEADS Staff Coordinator; David Warshaw, Bergen LEADS Advisory Panel Chairman and member of the Volunteer Center Board of Directors; Janet Sharma, Executive Director of the Volunteer Center; David Yanagisawa, Senior Vice President of TD Banknorth and member of Bergen LEADS Advisory Panel and Volunteer Center Board of Directors; Tara Williams of TD Banknorth.

Volunteer Managers' Roundtable Scheduled

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County is sponsoring a Volunteer Managers' Roundtable on March 12th. Participants are invited to share in a discussion about some of the challenges facing today’s volunteer managers. You’ll have a chance to meet and network with other volunteer management professionals from diverse agencies, and get feedback on challenges unique to your programs. The Roundtable will begin with a presentation by our featured speaker Anne Raftery, Vice President of Human Resources at The Valley Hospital, who’ll lead a discussion on generational differences in volunteering.

Volunteer Managers’ Roundtable: Generational Differences in Volunteering
Wednesday, March 12, 2008, 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Volunteer Center of Bergen County, 64 Passaic Street, Hackensack
Admission to this event is FREE
Pre-registration is required - Deadline to register is March 7. Please contact Tess Tomasi at 201-489-9454, ext. 114 or ttomasi@bergenvolunteers.org to register.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Candidates Sought for Leadership Program

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County recently announced the launch of Bergen LEADS, an innovative, 10-month learning and leadership program for adults who live or work in Bergen County.

Applications are now being accepted for the first class of 30 participants. The application form can be downloaded at www.bergenleads.org and is due by April 18. Each candidate must fill in a simple individual profile form and provide essay answers to specific questions.

The tuition to participate in Bergen LEADS is $2,000 per person, and scholarships will be available for those with financial need. A series of Informational Open Houses for potential applicants will be held on the following dates:

· Thurs., February 21, Bergen County’s United Way in Paramus, 8:30am -10:00 am

· Wed., February 27, First Baptist Church in Englewood, 11:30am-1:00pm

· Wed., March 5, Quest Diagnostics in Teterboro, 11:30am- 1:00 pm

· Tues., March 11, Cole Schotz in Hackensack, 8:30am-10:00am

· Wednesday, March 12, Lodi Public Library, 4:30 pm-6:00pm

· Thurs., March 13, Church on the Edge in Edgewater, 11:30am-1:00pm

· Wednesday, March 19, BD in Franklin Lakes, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm

· Wednesday, March 19, KPMG in Montvale, 4:30pm – 6:00pm

· Tues., March 25, TD Banknorth in Mahwah, 11:30am-1:00pm

Pre-registration is required; to register to attend one of the sessions, and for directions, call (201) 489-9454 Ext. 219.

Additional information about how to apply for the program, and about financial aid, is available on the website www.bergenleads.org. The first class of 30 participants will be announced in June, and the monthly seminars will begin in September.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Business Volunteers to Kick Off Literacy Initiative

More than 60 employee volunteers from Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council (BVC) member companies will kick off a literacy initiative on Monday, March 3, 2008 by reading to children enrolled in Head Start, the YMCA and other pre-school programs. The campaign kickoff is planned to coincide with “Read Across America”, a program sponsored by the National Education Association designed to get kids excited about reading. March 3 is also Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel’s birthday.

The event will mark the beginning of Books in a Bag, an annual campaign sponsored by the BVC. Books in a Bag is a family literacy initiative created by the BVC nine years ago in response to a need identified by Bergen County Head Start, a federally-funded early childhood education program for very low-income families. Because these families are struggling to pay for rent, utilities and food, books are far down on the list of must-have items. Consequently, most children in the program have never owned a book of their own and very few read or are read to at home. To address the problem, employee volunteers at participating companies organize a collection of new children’s books, then deliver bags filled with five books, a bookmark and a reading list to children in Head Start programs throughout the state. In just nine years, more than 38,500 books have been distributed to 7,700 children.

The BVC is sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. For further information on membership, call Amanda Missey at 201-489-9454 Ext. 119 or visit www.nnjbvc.org.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Extra! Extra! Read All About Volunteering with our 2008 Guide

The 2008 Hands-On Guide to Volunteering is now available. The guide lists nearly 300 nonprofit agencies and more than 1000 opportunities for volunteers of all ages to become involved in the community. The book will be especially helpful to anyone looking to get involved in their community and to students seeking ways to fulfill community service requirements for school.

The guide offers tips on how groups can organize their own volunteer projects, including collection drives, ideas for family volunteering and information about great youth volunteer websites. Included are lists of project ideas that volunteers can do alone or with a group.

The guide is indexed and cross-referenced to help prospective volunteers find volunteer opportunities appropriate to their interests, geographic location and availability. Also listed are volunteer positions suitable for high school students, students under age 14, and families who want to volunteer together.

The Volunteer Center’s web site, www.bergenvolunteers.org, features a searchable database of volunteer opportunities in and around Bergen County. Individuals, groups, students and businesses interested in volunteering may look for opportunities by keyword, by area of interest or by geographic location.

Order your free copy of the book by clicking here or call the Volunteer Center at 201-489-9454.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

They Came, They Shopped, They Raised Money

This past weekend, Blue Tulip, a gift shop in Closter, held a sales event to benefit the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. Thanks to everyone who came out and shopped for the Volunteer Center - we will receive 10% of those sales. Many thanks to Blue Tulip for their continued support of the Volunteer Center and the Bergen County community.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bergen LEADS Featured in (201) - Best of Bergen

Hot off the presses: the February issue of (201) magazine, entitled Best of Bergen 2008, features an article on the Volunteer Center of Bergen County's new program, Bergen LEADS. The article, "Leading Questions", includes a full-page photo of the Bergen LEADS Advisory Panel and describes how the program will address the diverse issues facing Bergen County. David Warshaw, Chair of the Bergen LEADS Advisory Panel stated, "LEADS' aim is to bring emerging leaders together so they can see beyond their own organizations, and see how by working together, we can solve some of Bergen's issues."

A link to the article will be posted here soon. In the meantime, you can request a copy of the article by contacting jhe@bergenvolunteers.org or call 201-489-9454, ext. 125.

Strategic Planning for Non-Profits

Yogi Berra once said, “You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

A strategic plan is is something every organization needs to help determine what it is and where it is going. Strategic planning is the process by which an organization identifies its resources, develops goals and implements ways to achieve those goals. It is a road map to ensure the organization’s success in an ever changing environment. In short, strategic planning helps an organization do a better job.

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County is presenting a workshop, Strategic Planning for Non-Profits, on Wednesday, March 5, 2008 from 9 am to 12:00 noon at the Volunteer Center’s offices at 64 Passaic Street in Hackensack. The fee is $45.00 and includes all program materials and continental breakfast.

This workshop is part of a series designed specifically for staff and volunteer leaders in non-profit and governmental agencies and is sponsored by the Non-Profit Training and Resource Center of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. For more information or to register, e-mail training@bergenvolunteers.org, or call (201) 489-9454, ext.114.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Business Volunteer Council Celebrates 8 Years of Service

The Northern NJ Business Volunteer Council (BVC) is celebrating its 8th anniversary on Thursday, February 7 at the Hilton Woodcliff Lake from 6-8 p.m. All are welcome to join the festivities – tickets are $25/person for the cocktail reception.

The BVC is a membership organization of 31 companies whose employee volunteers work year-round to help children and families. Since 2000, the BVC has generated almost $900,000 in resources for low-income children and families. For more information or to reserve tickets for the anniversary celebration, please call 201-489-9454, ext. 114.

Volunteer Ventures

Did you make a New Year's resolution to get involved and help others? Then check out Volunteer Ventures! Their first meeting of 2008 is on Tuesday, February 5, at 7:15pm at the Volunteer Center, 64 Passaic Street, Hackensack. Volunteer Ventures is a group of more than 100 busy, working adults who provide extra hands for special evening and weekend group projects at area non-profit agencies. It's a great way to get involved in volunteering - you can pick and choose which projects interest you and fit your schedule, have fun, meet new people and help your community! New members are always welcome - so bundle up and come and see what Volunteer Ventures is all about!

As a special project for February, Ventures will be collecting boxed Valentine Cards for both girls and boys so that needy kids in local schools can give valentines to their friends.

For more information on Volunteer Ventures, call 201-489-9454 or email mailto:ventures@bergenvolunteers.org.

National Mentoring Month

Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? Thank Your Mentor Day will be celebrated on Thursday, January 24. On that day, people are encouraged to reach out to thank those individuals who encouraged and guided them, and who had a lasting impact on their lives. Why not acknowledge someone who has mentored you?

  • Contact your mentor directly to express your appreciation
  • “Pass it on” by becoming a mentor to someone in your community
  • Make a financial contribution to a local mentoring program, like the Volunteer Center’s Mentoring Moms and Volunteers in Protective Services Programs.
  • Write a tribute to your mentor for posting on the national mentoring website www.WhoMentoredYou.org

The Volunteer Center's mentoring programs have been highly regarded for over 30 years. Volunteers in Protective Services (VIPS) are caring men and women who provide guidance, friendship and support to abused and neglected children ages 2 to 18. Currently there are 34 girls and 66 boys waiting to be matched with a mentor. Mentoring Moms help isolated and overwhelmed mothers of all ages, many of whom are trying to move from welfare to work. The mentors listen, share ideas and offer encouragement, helping overwhelmed mothers face challenges one step at a time.

We welcome men and women willling to give a little time and a lot of caring to become volunteer mentors, and we provide comprehensive training during three six-week courses offered in the spring, fall and winter. We especially need male mentors for boys and bi-lingual Spanish speaking volunteers of both sexes.

For more information about becoming a mentor, call (201) 489-9454, or visit www.bergenvolunteers.org.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Good Reason to Shop

Join us on February 1st, 2nd and 3rd for a shopping event at the fabulous Blue Tulip store in Closter to help raise funds for the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. Mention you are shopping for the Volunteer Center and 10% of the proceeds for your purchase will be donated to the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. Blue Tulip has a wonderful selection of elegant and fun gifts for you or your loved ones - just in time for Valentine's Day! The event is only at the Closter store, which is located at 270 Closter Dock Road in Heidenberg Plaza. Hours are Friday and Saturday 10-8, Sunday 11-5.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Food, Awards, and More: Volunteer Ventures Celebrates the Holidays

Volunteer Ventures celebrated the holidays with their annual Pot Luck Dinner Party. Over 30 members attended with food in hand to sample and dine on each others dishes. Old friends reunited with new members as they socialized over unique and interesting cuisine brought in by the group. A favorite of the group was no doubt the vegetarian chili made by Sharyn Banks.

Spectrum For Living, an organization that many Ventures members work closely with, gave an award to Volunteer Ventures for their outstanding volunteering this past year.

Co-coordinators of the event Sue Silverstein and Edith Browne (pictured) planned one fantastic event.

Save the Date for Derby!

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County's annual Derby Day party will be held on Saturday, May 3, 2008 at a private residence in Alpine, NJ. Please save the date and plan to join us for fabulous food, live jazz, mint juleps, a silent and live auction, and - the Kentucky Derby! Stay tuned for more information.

All Wrapped Up is officially all wrapped up!

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County's All Wrapped Up program successfully matched 981 individuals and 792 families with willing donors from the community who generously provided holiday gifts to make the season a bit brighter for those in need. The entire Volunteer Center staff (pictured at left) celebrated and congratulated Debbie Emery, Melissa Leibe and Donna Leibe (center, holding sign) of the Volunteer Center's Community Volunteer Services department who worked tirelessly on All Wrapped Up to ensure that everyone was remembered this holiday season. A great big thank you to all the individuals, families and corporations who "adopted" or donated gifts and spread some cheer to those who needed it the most. Happy Holidays!