Friday, December 18, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wanted: Heroes for Kids

One hundred boys and girls are looking for heroes. These children have been referred to Volunteers in Protective Services (VIPS), a mentoring program sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. For over 30 years, VIPS has screened trained and supported caring men and women who are positive role models and dedicated mentors to Bergen County children who have experienced abuse, neglect and/or social isolation.

The next 6-week VIPS mentor training program begins on Wednesday, January 13, 2010. Each Wednesday session is held from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm at the Volunteer Center, 64 Passaic Street in Hackensack.

“There are not nearly enough people enrolled thus far," says Faith Samples-Smart, VIPS Program Director. “There is an especially great need for men to mentor the boys, and for bi-lingual Spanish speaking mentors of both sexes."

The, 15-hour VIPS mentor training is provided at no charge and covers such topics as developing good listening and communication skills, working through challenges, understanding and recognizing the signs of abuse and neglect, the role of the mentor, the matching process and the ongoing support that is provided by staff after the mentor is matched with a child. Applicants are asked to supply references and undergo a fingerprint and background check.

For more information about the VIPS program, contact Eva Tobias at (201) 489-9454 Ext. 121, or visit and click on mentoring programs.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Party Hearty at the Volunteer Center!

Several Volunteer Center programs enjoyed recent festivities, with volunteers and sponsors making merry in myriad ways.

A luncheon honored 35 volunteers with our Chore Service for their dedication and hard work. This amazing crew does home repairs that keep the elderly and people with disabilities safe in their homes.

More than 100 Mentors and kids in our Volunteers in Protective Services (VIPS) program had a great time rocking around the Christmas tree with DJ Scott Reddin and enjoying goodies from Inserra Supermarkets. Gifts for kids were donated by Quest Diagnostics, Benjamin Moore & Co. and Hunter Douglas, a volunteers from Bergen Community College, Fairleigh Dickinson U. and NYU assisted with a multitude of tasks. VIPS mentors help kids who have experienced abuse or neglect see and take steps to achieve a brighter future.

Mentors, moms and their families associated with our Mentoring Moms program -- more than 200 people! -- enjoyed a delightful breakfast with Santa. Numerous groups dished out delicacies, coordinated crafts projects, and provided every child and mom with a gift: Capitol One, Eisai, Inc Information Technology Department, 'energy', Church of the Atonement, Holy Trinity Church, Quest Diagnostics, Mocha Moms, Costco, Christ Lutheran Church, TD Bank, UPS, Bethel Ministries, Consolidated Dairies and Whitney H. Roddy Inc. Tara Perino, of KPMG, was our fabulous DJ and many other individuals helped with the party. Mentoring Moms volunteers help overwhelmed mothers who seek guidance in parenting and life skills and in moving from welfare to work.

The Alumni of Bergen LEADS toasted the season at the Hilton Hasbrouck Heights, where they also collected toys, gifts and gift cards for families in need. Recruitment for the 2011 Bergen LEADS class begins just after the New Year.

The elves staffing our All Wrapped Up Holiday Giving Program continues to work fiendishly, matching donors from the community with individuals and families who need help this holiday season. We need more donors! Contact Debbie Emery at 201-489-9454, ext 118, or email if you want to help!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Cartel comes to Bergen County

Bergen LEADS is the County’s premier leadership program for adults. Led by former County Executive William “Pat Schuber,” LEADers meet monthly to dissect and debate issues that affect local residents and businesses.

This month, Bergen LEADS will tackle the topic of Education. On December 15, the seminar day will begin with a screening of the highly acclaimed documentary The Cartel. This thought provoking and controversial film, directed by Bob Bowdon - a New Jersey-based television producer, reporter, news anchor, and commentator - takes a hard look at the public education system using New Jersey as a backdrop. According to the filmmaker:

"The Cartel shows us our New Jersey educational system like we've never seen it
before. Behind every dropout factory, we discover, lurks a powerful, entrenched,
and self-serving establishment. And in almost every way, that establishment
fights any attempt at reform with a level of passion and vigilance that it
simply never applies to fixing chronically failing schools.

But The Cartel doesn't just describe the problem. Balancing local NJ storylines against interviews with national education experts such as Clint Bolick (former president of Alliance for School Choice), Gerard Robinson (president of Black Alliance for Educational Options), and Chester Finn (president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute), The Cartel explores what dedicated parents, committed teachers, clear-eyed officials, and tireless reformers are doing to make our schools better for our kids.

Putting a human face on the harm done by the educational monopolies, The Cartel takes us beyond the statistics, generalizations, and abstractions that typically frame our debates about education—and draws an unequivocal bottom line: If we care about our children's futures, we must insist upon far-reaching and immediate reform. And we must do it now."

Bergen LEADS seminars are normally closed to all but class members, but the Class of 2010 would like to invite interested individuals to attend this FREE screening on December 15 at 8:15 am, followed by a discussion with the filmmaker. The screening will be held at Bergen Community College, 400 Paramus Road, Paramus, in Classroom TEC 128. Tickets are free, but you MUST pre-register to attend by leaving your name and contact information with Amanda Missey at 201-489-9454 x119 or

For more information on The Cartel visit their website here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at the Volunteer Center.

If you’re looking for a holiday project this year,
check out our All Wrapped Up, Holiday Giving Program.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Give the Gift of “Good” for the Holidays

Holiday shopping does not have to be stressful or extravagant! The Volunteer Center of Bergen County has a great idea to simplify shopping and answer the question “what do you give a person who has everything?”

Through our "All Wrapped Up" Holiday Giving Program, you can make a donation in another’s name, and your will be used to directly help Bergen and Passaic County residents in need -- low income children and families, troubled youth, lonely seniors and disabled adults -- who have been identified and verified by local nonprofit agencies. Without the help of generous donors, these individuals and families might be passed over this holiday season. Your donation will be used to purchase gifts and gift cards for those in need.

Plus, giving a donation in another’s name is a great way to honor a deserving individual, such as an outstanding parent, teacher, boss, family member or friend.

Donations can be made on-line. Each donation will be acknowledged with an elegant, customized card sent to the person being honored, along with a description of how the donation will be put to good use. Gift donations purchased on-line by Noon on Monday, December 21st will be delivered by December 24th.

So -- Do Good. Feel Good. Give Good!

Visit, or call 201-489-9454 Ext. 125 for more information.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Help for the Holidays

We've received a flood of calls recently of people eager to help the less fortunate this holiday season, and we've had the hard task of telling them that opportunities to volunteer on Thanksgiving are somewhat scarce. That’s not to say there are none. Many faith-based organizations have holiday activities that engage their congregations, and many other organizations run activities and post information in community newspapers and websites. One such organization is Jersey Cares - you can check them out at

The Volunteer Center reaches out to area organizations to find out if they need additional assistance on such holidays as Thanksgiving. This year we had "zero" requests for additional volunteers. Many organizations have recruited their own pools of volunteers and do not at this time need additional assistance.

However, you can still help! There are 364 other days of the year, and we'll be glad to help you find a volunteer position or project that is just right for you. Visit our website or give us a call at 201-489-9454.

Monday, November 9, 2009

TD Bank Helps Keep Seniors Safe

The Chore Service, which is sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, has a new van on the road, thanks to a $25,000 donation from TD Bank.

The Chore Service provides crews of dedicated volunteers who perform minor household repairs that keep seniors and people with disabilities safe in their own homes, thereby avoiding costly and often unwanted institutionalization. Chore has had two vans on the road for several years; the third van, purchased and outfitted with tools courtesy of TD Bank, allows the program to serve more seniors.

Thanks, TD Bank!

For more information on Chore check out our website.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Weather can't stop the BVC

The weather was dreadful the night that the Business Volunteer Council (BVC) of Northern New Jersey held its annual Night at the Races at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The bright spot was the last minute decision to move the party indoors, and the result was 200+ happy party-goers.

Guests enjoyed plenty of good food and drink as they picked their ponies and perused a silent auction, which featured such great prizes as local restaurant gift cards, Devil’s hockey tickets, and an “Adult Sleepover” package which included a bottle of wine and hotel room at the Woodcliff Lake Hilton.

When the night ended, the event chalked up more than $15,000 to support the BVC’s initiative that help low income children and families. Guests were asked to bring disposable diapers and wipes, which were donated to the Baby Basic Program at Children’s Aid and Family Services in Paramus. More than $1,100 worth of baby supplies were donated!

The night was a lot of fun and a great success.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Shopping for a Cause

While shopping online this holiday season, you can help the Volunteer Center with every purchase. Through, a percentage of every purchase you make will 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 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. Please follow the directions on the iGive website to learn more about how you can help.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Facing Prolonged Economic Challenges: A Roundtable for Nonprofit CEOs

The Volunteer Center will host an Executive Directors’ Roundtable on Thursday, November 12, from 9-11:00 am. Executive Directors, CEOs and trustees of non-profit organizations are invited to discuss strategies that maintain organizational integrity in the face of prolonged challenges to fiscal stability, planning for an uncertain future, and other topics of current concern. Ken Berger, CEO of Charity Navigator, will add his perspective as a leader of a national nonprofit organization which has its operational offices in Bergen County. The Roundtable will be held at the Volunteer Center office, 64 Passaic Street, Hackensack.

There is no fee to attend the Executive Directors’ Roundtable, but pre-registration is required. The deadline for registration is November 6th. For more information or to register, e-mail, or call (201) 489-9454, ext.114.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

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 Monday, November 2, we'll begin matching requests with volunteer donors from the community who are willing to 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 books 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!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Service Learning - where community and education intersect

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County is sponsoring the 3rd Annual Service Learning Conference on Friday, November 13, at Bergen Community College (BCC). Service-learning is a method of teaching and learning that combines academic work with service to the community. Students learn by doing, through a clear application of skills and knowledge, while helping to meet needs in the school and community. A national study of Learn and Serve America programs suggests that effective service learning programs improve grades, increase attendance in school and develop students’ personal and social responsibility.

School administrators, teachers, service advisors, leaders of community and faith-based organizations and students are encouraged to attend. The conference will run from 8:30 am - 12 noon in the TEC Center at BCC. Please click here to view the event brochure. For information, contact Debbie Emery at 201-489-9454, ext. 118 or

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Power of Volunteers

The Volunteer Center's executive Director, Janet Sharma, was recently honored by the Urban League Guild for Bergen County. Following are her remarks presented at the awards luncheon:

Thank you very much for this award. I am truly honored. I have
always appreciated the Urban League and its commitment to community, and I deeply value your good work – across the country and here in Englewood.

I’ve got to tell you that I have thoroughly enjoyed my tenure as Executive Director of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County and one of the reasons is that I get to work in partnership with the Urban League and with the other organizations that are being honored here today.

My organization focuses on the power of volunteers to make the world a better place. I have always believed that volunteering is a key component of social justice, because volunteering brings people together.

When I was little, I got my first volunteer experience helping my mother distribute
materials for the Cancer Society. Remember those 7 danger signs? Well I lived with those materials so long that I was sure that I had them all. The cough that
wouldn’t stop, sore that wouldn’t heal, the mole that kept getting bigger.

That experience has lived with me all these years and I think it’s important, because a key feature of volunteering is empathy. I really believed that I was dying, and I know how scared I was. That hasn’t left me, nor has the sense of empathy, of sensing
what others are feeling. Not only the pain of the sick or the despair of the homeless, but the gladness in the eyes of a lonely senior when someone brings them a meal or gives them a friendly call, or the pride that someone – a child or an adult – feels when a volunteer helps them grasp the concept of reading; or the thrill when a mentor takes a child to the zoo and they see an elephant up close and personal for the very first time; or the fervor of someone who stands up for the underdog -- or for their own rights -- and extends their passion to others.

These are the kinds of things that make up my day, and every single day brings joy as well as heartache because every day is full of the full range of humanity.

At a recent forum with President George H.W. Bush (#41), President Obama commented on the importance of service, and I want to pass along his words:

"Service isn't separate from our national priorities or secondary to our national priorities - it's integral to achieving our national priorities. It's how we will meet the challenges of our time...

That's always been the story of this nation--the story of those who stepped forward in our darkest hours to serve it. Those who rose to answer the defining questions of their time: Colony or country? Free or half free? Separate but equal, or truly equal?

Those folks weren't in it for the money. Those folks were volunteers. Their
service wasn't "extra." It was the work that changed this country."

Thank you very much for this award. I am honored to be among you today.

The 411 on Managing Leadership Volunteers

Volunteers often fill valuable leadership positions in non-profit agencies, such as board members, committee chairs and project managers. These volunteers could have the responsibility of making policy, organizing major fund raisers, and steering the organization to fulfill its mission.

Effectively managing these skilled volunteers is a critical skill for non-profit executive directors and senior staff. To learn best practices in this fine art, the Volunteer Center is presenting a workshop on Managing Leadership Volunteers, on Wednesday, November 4, at 9:30 am. For more information on this course and others click here.

Pre-registration and pre-payment of the $35.00 fee for Managing Leadership Volunteers is required; the deadline for registration is October 30th. For more information or to register, e-mail, or call (201) 489-9454, ext.114.

Friday, October 23, 2009

VC Programs Link with Seniors

Our RSVP and Chore programs were on hand when the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce sponsored its first-ever Senior Adult Health Fair on October 13 at the Ridgewood Y. Co-sponsored by Van Dyk Manor, Valley Hospital, and Distinctive Care, the event was attended by more than 100 seniors who received valuable information about healthcare and heard presentations about Medicare, home health care and home safety.

Representatives of RSVP and Chore provided information and answered questions about our services, which include placement of volunteers in meaningful positions (RSVP) and engaging volunteer handymen/handywomen to provide minor home repairs for the elderly or disabled (Chore).

Healthy snacks and drinks were provided courtesy of Kings Super Market of Ridgewood. Special thanks to Kevin Brendlen of Van Dyk Manor for generously sponsoring our table at the event!

Photo slide show,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Disaster can strike anytime…Be prepared

The Alumni of Bergen LEADS (ABL) are hosting a one-night Disaster Preparedness seminar for Bergen County residents that will be presented by Bergen County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

Disasters can strike at any time, and it is in everyone's best interest to be prepared. Detective Gidget Petry, Bergen County OEM ‘s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Coordinator, will discuss how people can prepare for disasters before they occur. She will also discuss how residents can become part of the nationwide CERT program by attending additional training courses offered throughout Bergen County.

“Local officials and relief workers may not be able to get to everyone immediately after a disaster strikes,” says Mary Swatek Hudson, graduate of the Bergen LEADS Class of 2009 and vice-chair of ABL. “Residents may initially be on their own; they will need to know how to help themselves and their neighbors effectively and efficiently without placing themselves in unnecessary danger.”

The Disaster Preparedness Seminar will be held on Tuesday, October 27, 2009, from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Northern New Jersey Girl Scout offices, 300 Forest Avenue, in Paramus. The program is open to the public (age 12 and up) at no charge, but pre-registration is required. E-mail by October 23rd to reserve a space.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Major Broadcast Networks Mobilize to Promote Volunteerism

The four major broadcast networks—ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC—will air an unprecedented week of television October 19-25, as part of the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s (EIF) “iParticipate”, a national initiative to promote community service and volunteering. Storylines in more than 60 shows will feature volunteerism.

EIF is mobilizing the entire entertainment community to promote a new way of thinking about service and seeks to persuade millions more of Americans to volunteer regularly.

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County is the local source for connecting people with meaningful opportunities to serve. For more information please visit or call 201-489-9454 for information on volunteering.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Kids Enjoy Zoo Trip

Kids being mentored through the Volunteer Center's Volunteers in Protective Services (VIPS) program recently enjoyed a fabulous trip to the Bronx Zoo. Funds to support this day-long adventure were generated by Quest Diagnostics annual "Rutts Hutt Hot Dog Challenge," in which Quest employees vied for the championship and in the process raised funds to send the kids to the zoo. More than 50 mentors and mentees explored the vase Bronx Zoo, enjoying lions, tigers, gorillas, elephants and many more.

“The day was truly magical,” said Eva Tobias, an assistant with the VIPS program. "Children laughed at the animals, made new friendships, and reunited with others. The weather even held out until everyone was back on the bus heading home."

VIPS helps youth who have suffered abuse or neglect see and take steps to achieve a brighter future. "The trip to the zoo is an inspiring testament to the hard work and generosity that a local company -- Quest Diasgnostics -- provided by supporting these kids," says Janet Sharma, Volunteer Center executive director. "We are very grateful!"

Friday, October 9, 2009

Get on Board

Agencies of all kinds -- including those that deal with youth or women’s issues, the arts, emergency services, senior services, and environmental concerns -- need board members. Board members make a difference in the community and share their talents and skills to address important social needs.

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County invites you to take part in a unique leadership experience to learn about serving as a board member in a nonprofit agency. The Getting On Board workshop will help participants understand what is involved in serving on an organization’s Board of Directors. The 2-hour primer on board service will be held on Wednesday, October 21, at 7:00 pm.

The cost for the Getting On Board training is $10.00 per person and includes the training presentation, handouts, and refreshments. Class size is limited so register now! Pre-registration and pre-payment are required; registration deadline is October 16, 2009. For more information or to register, send an e-mail to or call Tess Tomasi at (201) 489-9454 x 114.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Riders Rally in the Rain!

The weather for the Bergen Bike Tour on Sunday, September 27th was less than perfect, but hundreds of enthusiastic and determined riders, volunteers, sponsors and guests made the rainy day seem positively sunny! More than 150 riders braved the mist and rain, then relaxed post-ride with family and friends in the warmth of a huge, rustic lodge at Darlington Park. Students from the Healing Hands Institute massaged cyclists' aching muscles, DJ Scott Reddin got the party going with great music and games, and volunteer cooks served up a fabulous barbeque of hamburgers, hot dogs and all the fixings.

Major sponsors TD Bank, Ford Motor Company and additional corporate sponsors generously provided giveaways and information. Riders have until November 13th to continue fundraising, with proceeds benefiting Tomorrows Children's Fund and the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. Many thanks to all who rode, volunteered, sponsored and cheered - and hope to see you next year!

Monday, September 28, 2009

"How To" on Volunteer Management

Sign up now for a comprehensive, one-day course on Volunteer Management, Thursday, October 1, 2009 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Volunteer Center. Registration of $75.00 includes continental breakfast, lunch and all course materials. The workshop is designed to help non-profit and government organizations recruit, train and manage volunteers to aid in fulfillment of their organizations’ goals.

“By implementing the practical solutions offered in this workshop, volunteer coordinators can gain the human resources skills necessary to manage people eager to give their time and talent to help our community,” says Janet Sharma, Executive Director.

Topics include understanding volunteering, program planning, recruitment and placement, orientation and training, supervision, recognition and evaluating your volunteer program.

For more information or to register, send an e-mail to:, or call Tess Tomasi at (201) 489-9454 Ext. 114.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pledge your Support!

You can help support your favorite Bergen Bike Tour rider with the click of a button. Visit our Bergen Bike Tour Support a Rider Page and just enter their name and the amount you wish to pledge. It’s that simple! You can also donate through the Bergen Bike Tour Firstgiving page.

Your generous donation will go support two well respected local non profits: the Volunteer Center of Bergen County and Tomorrows Children's Fund.

If you are interested in participating in the Bike Tour this Sunday, September 27, you may register until Friday for the $35.00 fee. You can register at the event for $40.00, but save yourself the trouble and register NOW! REMINDER: Riders must turn in a minimum of $100.00 on Sunday to be eligible for a Bergen Bike Tour shirt and goody bag. So don’t delay, register today!!!

For more information call 1-877-BER-BIKE or visit

Monday, September 21, 2009

Introducing…Bergen LEADS Class of 2010!

We are delighted to welcome the 2010 Class of Bergen LEADS, members of which recently began the 10-month series of leadership seminars. Led by former Bergen County Executive William "Pat" Schuber, each monthly seminar features experts in a areas of topical concern who interact with class participants through discussion and site visits.

A hearty welcome to:
Damian Albergo, Hasbrouck Heights
Cole, Schotz, Meisel, Forman & Leonard P.A.

Stacey Antine, MS, RD, New York, NY
HealthBarn USA

Anthony Baker, Teaneck

Susan Barnard, MS, DHSc, Englewood
Bergen Community College

James D. Brown, CPA, Teaneck
James D. Brown, CPA

Charles A. Calabrese, DC, Wallington
Fairmount Chiropractic

Sharon Castanteen, North Bergen
Johnson Public Library

Daniele Cervino, Bogota

Muzette Charles, Teaneck
AXA Advisors

Lt. Lisa Crystall, Wyckoff
Bergen County Sheriff's Department

Ray Cywinski, Demarest
United Water

Geri Dawes, Ridgewood
3-D Communications

Karyn Egeland, Upper Saddle River
Huron Consulting Group

George H. Fosdick, Ramsey
Wachovia Wealth Management

Jane He, Wayne
Volunteer Center of Bergen County

Barbara Heiser O’Neil, Hawthorne

Jeanne Johnson, Ridgewood

Lee Miller, Ridgewood
Cushman & Wakefield

Patricia O’Shea, Teaneck

Daniel Rothner, Teaneck

Faye Samuels, Tenafly

MaryBeth Sigler-Garcia, Tenafly
Cantarima Multimedia

Rev. Charles V. Singletary, Somerset
Bergen County Council of Churches

Roberta Sonenfeld, Ridgewood

Suzanne Sweeney, Ramsey
Orange & Rockland Utilities

Joe Thomas, Montvale

Joanne Westphal, Dumont
TD Bank

Staci White, Hackensack
New Jersey Community Development Corporation

Lynda Wolf, Paramus
Kelly Services

Wendy Worden, Paramus
Alpine Learning Group

Applications for the next class of Bergen LEADS will be accepted from January-April 2010. Candidates must live or work in Bergen County. For more information about Bergen LEADS, please visit

Friday, September 18, 2009

Making Memories

Families in our Mentoring Moms program recently made some real memories! With generous donations of scrap booking supplies from Volunteer Center Board member Katherine Norain, as well as Center staff members, six families each created a beautiful book to hold lasting memories.

"The day provided a great opportunity for parents and children to enjoy time together," says Cindy Andrake, Mentoring Moms program director. "That's the most important thing!"

Each family went home with a scrapbook they created filled with their memories.

Mentoring Moms trains and provides ongoing support for adult women who serve as volunteer mentors to mothers in need of guidance in parenting and life skills. For more information on Mentoring Moms please visit our website here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Get in Gear, Still Time to Ride!

The Bergen Bike Tour is just around the corner and there is still time to register! Sign up now for a fun, family-oriented event that raises funds for two outstanding local organizations: Tomorrow's Children's Fund and the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.

The Bergen Bike Tour begins and ends at Darlington Park in Mahwah, NJ. Pick your route: 10-, 25-, or 50-mile routes accommodate riders of every ability and wind through some of Bergen County's most scenic areas. We'll also have a Kids' Fun Ride for children age 8 and under. Each ride begins with breakfast for all the riders, and everyone (cyclists, their friends and families) is invited to enjoy a fun-filled picnic afterwards, starting at 11:30 AM. We'll have a home-cooked barbeque plus a wide array of activities - music, games, clowns, prizes - and a special visit from New Jersey Nets mascot, Sly the Fox! Registered massage therapists will also be on hand to relieve cyclists' tired muscles.

To find out more or to register, visit or call 1-877-BER-BIKE.

Are you coming? Comment below and let us know! See you on September 27th!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wanted: Mentoring Moms

You can make a difference in a family’s life! Our Mentoring Moms program recruits, trains and supports volunteers who serve as mentors to overwhelmed mothers in need of guidance in parenting and life skills.

Why Mentor a Mom?
When a mother is supported by a mentor, the entire family benefits! Mentors become important role models for the children as well as the mother. Mentors also link families with a variety of services that can impact education and financial well-being.

Our comprehensive 6-session training program begins on Monday, October 5, 2009 at the Volunteer Center; call Susan Hogge at (201) 489-9454, ext. 124 for more information.

P.S. We especially need bi-lingual Spanish-speaking women to mentor Spanish-speaking moms.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

On your mark, Get set, Network

The next meeting of the Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council (BVC) will be Wednesday, September 16, from 8:30 am to 10:00 am at The Hilton, Woodcliff Lake. Business leaders will participate in a “Speed Networking” session with leaders of local social service agencies.

Leadership is a key concern for many nonprofits, and numerous options are available. Corporate volunteers can utilize their professional and life skills as board members, project leaders or committee chairs at nonprofits in northern New Jersey and, in the process, help people ranging in age from young children to seniors, develop and maintain affordable housing, maintain area food pantries, promote literacy and much, much more.

To reserve your place at the meeting call Tess Tomasi at (201) 489-9454 ext. 114.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Volunteering…more than a ride in the park.

Just because you choose not to ride doesn’t mean you don't have a place at the Bergen Bike Tour! You can volunteer!

The14th annual Bergen Bike Tour will be on Sunday, September 27, with numerous activities at Darlington Park, in Mahwah. Family-oriented and fun-filled, the event raises funds for the Volunteer Center of Bergen County and Tomorrows Children's Fund at Hackensack University Medical Center.

A few volunteer slots are still available! We can use your help between 6:30 am and 10:00 am. Volunteers will help to set up, serve breakfast, and prepare goodie bags. All volunteers receive a free, commemorative shirt and refreshments. Join the fun! To volunteer, contact Debbie Emery at 201-489-9454, x 118 or

Monday, August 31, 2009

“Lunch and Learn” for Volunteer Managers

People who manage volunteers -- especially youth volunteers -- are invited to attend a "lunch and learn" session on Monday, September 21, from 11:30-1:00 at the Volunteer Center. The focus will be primarily on youth volunteering.

The Corporation for National and Community Service reports that 68% of all K-12 schools are now involved with service learning and/or youth volunteering, and the Volunteer Center's website has tracked more than 6,000 requests for information about youth service opportunities so far this year.

The discussion will be relevant to those who work with volunteers at nonprofits, schools, government agencies, community or faith-based organizations. Leading the discussion will be Denise Schachter of Teaneck High School and Debbie Emery of the Volunteer Center. The program is free, but those who attend should plan to bring their own lunch. Pre-registration is required by September 17. For more information or to register, e-mail, or call (201) 489-9454, ext.114.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Step Right Up!

A local teen is showing us how one person can make a huge difference!

David Engle, from Glen Rock, NJ, started "Carnivals for Children on Wheels," which delivers the merriment of carnivals to kids who are underprivileged, homeless, and/or mentally or physically challenged. The carnivals are completely free and run entirely by volunteers!

"The summer before 9th grade I volunteered at an amazing therapeutic horse back riding facility called Pony Power of NJ,” says David Engle. “Once I volunteered there I realized that I had to give more of myself to help other people. I also knew that I was capable of running carnivals since I had run them with my father at our temple for many years. So I had the inspiration one day to combine my love for carnivals with helping other people and that is how Carnivals for Children on Wheels grew to what it is today."

Volunteers help with planning events and creating new carnival games, and also pitch in to develop fundraising ideas. Teens are welcome to sign up to volunteer! This is a great place to volunteer, because the result of every carnival is happy children! Not only that, they go home with arms full of prizes and faces full of smiles.

For more information, contact David Engle at or 201-956-1246. Check out

Monday, August 24, 2009

Gear Up for Fun - The Bergen Bike Tour

Looking for a fun family outing this fall? The 14th Annual Bergen Bike Tour is a great way for families and friends to get some exercise, enjoy the outdoors and do good in the community all at the same time. The Bergen Bike Tour will be held on Sunday, September 27, at Darlington County Park, in Mahwah. All proceeds benefit Tomorrows Children’s Fund and the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.

A special “Kids’ Ride" sponsored by Ford Motor Company will be held for little ones on big wheels and tricycles as well as those not yet ready for the 10-mile route. Kids can tour an antique fire truck on-site, and “Sly the Fox”, the NJ Nets mascot, will be stopping by to say hello and cheer on the riders. A post-ride picnic will include home-cooked bbq fare, a DJ, clowns, games and prizes. Two Jamis bicycles – a 2009 Allegro valued at $635 and a 2008 Commuter valued at $425 – will be raffled at $5 per ticket. Register online at or call 1-877-BER-BIKE (237-2453) or email

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Mark your calendars for Friday, October 16! That's when the Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer County (BVC) is hosting its annual (and very fun) Night at the Races at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The party includes a barbecue buffet with beer and soft drinks from 6PM-10PM, plus a silent auction and 50-50 raffle with proceeds benefiting the BVC. We'll have a private picnic area in a park-like setting next to the track and near the finish line, and we'll have our own private betting windows!

Tickets are $50 and are available here. For more information, contact Tess at

Thank you to our 2009 Night at the Races Sponsors
Presenting Sponsor - Hudson City Savings Bank
Event Sponsor - Rockland Electric
Paddock Sponsor - Quest Diagnostics
Corporate Sponsor - UHY Advisors
Corporate Sponsor - United Water
Corporate Sponsor - BD
Listing Sponsor – IKEA

We look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, August 17, 2009

6th Annual Rutt’s Hut Challenge

The 6th Annual “Rutt’s Hut Challenge” took place on July 30 at one of N.J.'s most famous eateries, Rutt's Hut in Clifton.

Sponsored by Quest Diagnostics, the contest pitted nine very enthusiastic employees who ate a combined total of 61 hot dogs in 30 minutes. In a surprise win Sue Moran and Ro Moretto, the only women's team in the contest, consumed 6 hot dogs each for a combined total of 12 dogs and the title of champions. Reigning champ Art “The Animal” Diaz conceded graciously, after ripping through 11 hot dogs to finish second.

Quest employees supported their colleagues with cash contributions, and all the funds raised are earmarked to provide fun, enrichment activities for children in the Volunteer Center's mentoring program. To date, the annual charity event has raised well over $15,000. All receipts are not in yet, but judging from the overflow crowd that cheered on the contestants, we anticipate that this year will top all others.

“This contest has been one of the most fun and rewarding on-going events we sponsor,” says Dave Hertzel, coordinator of REACH (Remember Every Act Can Help), Quest's company-wide employee volunteer program. “The spontaneous spirit of fun, the collaboration of all involved, and the joy of sponsoring the children so deserving of our employees’ efforts, has been a wonderful spectacle to behold.”

Photo slide show:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fundraising for the Bergen Bike Tour Made Easy on Firstgiving

Attention Bergen Bike Tour riders – we’ve made it easy for you to fulfill your pledge obligation!

With the Bergen Bike Tour just around the corner, riders and volunteers alike are preparing to raise money for the Volunteer Center. Each individual rider at the Bergen Bike Tour is asked to raise a minimum of $100 and families are asked to raise $200. Technology has made it easier for riders to ask their friends and family members for donations through email, online giving, and social networking sites.

This year, many riders have set up Firstgiving Donation Pages to solicit donations. This is the second year the Volunteer Center is using Firstgiving; based on enthusiastic response last year, we anticipate even more riders will set up a page this year.

To find out more about how to set up and use a Firstgiving page, here are some you can take a look at:

Individual Rider Pages -,
Team Page -
Volunteer/Employee Page -

If you would like to make a donation to a rider without using Firstgiving, please click here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Food Drive Helps Kids

The Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council (BVC) recently completed “Brown Bag Buddies,” an initiative to collect food for children of low income families. Fifteen companies took part, collecting and distributing over 5,000 lbs of food, valued at almost $16,000.

“The wages of the working poor have not kept up with housing, transportation and child care costs," says Tess Tomasi, BVC coordinator at the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, sponsor of the BVC. "Northern New Jersey has the highest child poverty rates in the state. Without school meals, families must turn to the food pantries to provide nutritional meals for their children during the summer.”

Since 2000, the BVC’s “Brown Bag Buddies” campaign has raised over $200,000 in food and donations to help provide meals for children who aren’t receiving school meals during the summer.

For information about the BVC and its activities throughout the year, contact Tess Tomasi at 201-489-9454, ext. 114 or email

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New Mentor Training Coming Up

The Volunteer Center mentoring programs want you! Training for the Fall is right around the corner.

Mentoring Moms are mentors and role models to isolated and/or overwhelmed mothers. Training for this program starts on October 5; please call Cindy at 201-489-9454, ext. 123 to register.

Volunteers in Protective Services (VIPS), are adult role models to children who have experienced abuse, neglect, trouble or isolation. Training for this program starts on September 16; both men and women are welcome to call and register today. Please call Francine at 201-489-9454, ext. 111.

So if you find satisfaction in helping opportunities for personal growth and fulfillment...enjoy making new friends...want to get back as well as give, then call today.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Wanted: Tools for School!

All kids need the right tools to get off to a good start in school. It’s difficult to learn anything without them, and it’s even harder to learn if you’re worried about being different from everyone else. Children in low-income families want to do what everyone else does at school: learn. Yet many come from families whose resources don’t stretch far enough to provide school supplies.

Every August, the Northern New Jersey Business Council (BVC) coordinates a back-to-school supply drive, and then works with partner nonprofit agencies to deliver what’s collected to children throughout the state. The BVC has distributed over $285,000 in school supplies and it’s more than just pencils – everything from backpacks to binders and from composition books to calculators. Please join the BVC effort this year to collect for needy children in Bergen County.

Watch a video about the program on NY1 or click here.

For more information please contact Tess Tomasi at 201-489-9454, ext. 114, or by email at

Monday, July 27, 2009

Companies put the pedal to the metal

Several area corporations have signed on as sponsors of the 14th annual Bergen Bike Tour, which will be held on Sunday, September 27, 2009 at Darlington Park in Mahwah.

Sponsors to date include TD Bank; Amper, Politziner & Mattia; Apax Partners; Esai; Jamis Bicycles; Joel Tanis & Sons; Lakeland Bank; Oritani Bank Charitable Foundation; PNC Bank; Sanzari Companies and Wounded Poodle Productions. Also signed on are Ford Motor Company, Garden State Wiper; Hackensack University Medical Center; Harwood Lloyd; Inserra Supermarkets; Murphy, Miller & Baglieri, LLP; NVE Bank; Prestige Family of Fine Cars; Andrew F. Rubenstein, M.D.; United Water; Withum Smith+Brown. Additional sponsors include Capital One; Doherty Enterprises; Malesardi, Quackenbush, Swift & Company, LLC; Saddle River Valley Bank and Wachovia Bank, N.A.

Proceeds from the Bike Tour benefit Tomorrows Children’s Fund at Hackensack University Medical Center and the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.

“Difficult economic times have really hit these two charities hard,” says Phil Murphy, chairman of the event. “They provide programs and services that help children with cancer, the frail elderly, people with disabilities and families in crisis. These services are in jeopardy, so we encourage community minded sponsors and cyclists to support this fun event.” More than 400 cyclists will ride routes of 10-, 25- or 50-miles through some of northern Bergen County's most scenic areas. There will also be a "Kids Ride" for little ones on big wheels, trikes and training wheels in the parking lot.

To become a sponsor of this stellar event, call Jane He at 201-489-9454, ext. 125.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Time to help the Hungry!

Let's all pitch in and help feed hungry families and children this summer! There's till time to join in the Northern New Jersey Business Council (BVC) summer food drive, which is called "Brown Bag Buddies." The BVC will be collecting food through July, and all food will be distributed through food pantries in Bergen County.

Kid-friendly foods most needed in the summer are: Canned Meat (tuna, chicken, etc.), Canned Vegetables, Macaroni & Cheese, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Cereal (low sugar kids cereal welcome), Dry Milk (e.g. boxed Parmalat), Canned Fruit, and 100% Juice.

If you'd like an organizational packet, which gives step-by-step instructions for organizing and promoting your Brown Bag Buddies campaign, call the Volunteer Center at 201 -489-9454 x 114 or email

Monday, July 20, 2009

Registration is Open for the Bergen Bike Tour!

Registration is now officially open for the 14th Annual Bergen Bike Tour! The Bergen Bike Tour is a fun, family-oriented event that raises funds for two outstanding local organizations: Tomorrow's Children's Fund and the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.

The Bergen Bike Tour begins and ends at Darlington Park in Mahwah, NJ. Routes of 10, 25, and 50 miles are designed to accommodate riders of every ability, from the beginner to the skilled cycling enthusiast. The Tour begins with breakfast for all the riders. All routes wind through some of Bergen County's most scenic areas and there is a Kids' Fun Ride for children age 8 and under. After the ride, cyclists, their friends and families are invited to enjoy a home-cooked picnic plus a wide array of activities - music, games, clowns, prizes - and a special visit from New Jersey Nets mascot, Sly the Fox! Registered massage therapists will also be on hand to relieve cyclists' tired muscles.

To find out more or to register, visit or call 1-877-BER-BIKE. See you on September 27th!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sail On!

On a recent brilliant summer Sunday, 14 children being mentored through the Volunteer Center's Volunteers in Protective Services (VIPS) program had the unique opportunity to go sailing on the Hudson River, courtesy of a very gracious mentor and the Minisceongo Yacht Club in Stony Point, NY. The mentor coordinated a small fleet of sailboats and yachts, whose owners hosted the children and their mentors for the entire afteroon. Upon returning to dry land, all enjoyed a fantastic and enormous barbeque.

Boat owners were delighted to share their love of sailing with the kids and everyone is looking forward to doing it again next year! Each child walked away with a sailor cap and a day they won’t soon forget. The VIPS program recruits, screens, trains and supervises caring adult volunteers who mentor children who have been abused and/or neglected. For more information, call 201-489-9454, ext. 115 or visit our website.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Are you a volunteer? Do you have skills?

We hear a lot these days about "skills based volunteers" and we want to pick your brain. What is a "skills-based" volunteer? Do all volunteers have skills? If they aren't "skills-based," what do they do? How did this term come about and why is it the new craze in volunteering? The term and the concept have created buzz around Volunteer Centers for a while, and we'd like your input. What is your definition of "skills-"based" volunteer vs. "volunteer"? Susan Ellis, a consultant well known in volunteer management circles, has also posted this topic on the Energize, Inc. website.

Have a look and give us your opinion of how this is affecting volunteering in Northern New Jersey.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

We Want YOU!

The highest office in our country is calling YOU to action. From June 22 to September 11, United We Serve, an initiative launched by the Obama Administration, will engage Americans from coast to coast in addressing community needs with a focus on education, health, energy and the environment, and community renewal. The Volunteer Center is very excited about this initiative and will be here all summer to help you find out about volunteering in our community.

While United We Serve is initially 81 days of service, it will grow into a sustained effort to promote service as a way of life for all Americans. In addition to the Volunteer Center website, is a terrific online resource that can help you not only find volunteer opportunities, but also create your own service projects.

*Information taken from

Monday, June 29, 2009

Brown Bag Buddies help the hungry

The Northern New Jersey Business Council (BVC) is helping needy families this summer through "Brown Bag Buddies," a summer food drive. In response to an editorial in The Record ("No Picnic", Wed., June 24, read it here), the BVC spread the word about the importance of involving
area businesses and corporations to ensure that families and children do not go hungry this summer.

"Believe it or not, July and August are the busiest months of the whole year because the kids are home from school,” says Thelma Fedele, director of community and government relations for the Center for Food Action. “Children are not getting school lunches or breakfasts and, at the same time, donations of food go down."

Now in it's ninth year sponsoring "Brown Bag Buddies," the BVC welcomes all businesses - large and small- as well as civic and faith-based organizations to participate. Our goal is to collect $30,000 in food and cash, which will be donated to the Center for Food Action, by the end of July. You may request an organizational packet, which gives step-by-step instructions for organizing and promoting your Brown Bag Buddies campaign, by calling the Volunteer Center at 201 -489-9454 x 114 or emailing

Friday, June 26, 2009

10,000 and counting!

The Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council (BVC), which is sponsored by the Volunteer Center, recently completed an astonishing feat: collecting and distributing 12,673 children’s books! The project was the BVC's the 10th annual "Books in a Bag" initiative to promote early literacy. Books were collected at BVC member companies and distributed to early childhood centers serving primarily low-income families in New Jersey; we also sponsored a "Big Book Give-Away" for families participating in our mentoring programs.

Books in a Bag kicked off on March 2 on “Read Across America Day" and wrapped up at the end of the school year. This year’s participating companies included BMW of North America, Patton Boggs, Spectra Laboratories, TD Bank, UPS Information Services, Ricoh, Classic Residence by Hyatt, Heritage Point of Teaneck, Hertz, Pearson Education, Reader's Digest, and United Water. The campaign was underwritten by Pearson Education, Spectra Laboratories, United Water, and UPS. Thanks to our sponsors and to all the donors of books who made "Books in a Bag" so successful!

The Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council is comprised of of 32 businesses that work year-round to help children and families in need. For more information on membership in the BVC, please call Tess Tomasi at 201-489-9454, ext.114, or e-mail

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Congratulations LEADS Graduates!

The inaugural class of Bergen LEADS, Bergen County’s first community leadership program, recently celebrated its “graduation”. Bergen LEADS is a 10-month experiential learning and leadership curriclum designed to prepare aspiring and acknowledged leaders to tackle the unique challenges and embrace the opportunities in Bergen County.

Under the guidance of former Bergen County Executive William “Pat” Schuber, who serve as the LEADS Seminar Director, participants are immersed in stimulating courses that not only introduce them to topical issues of local importance, but also enable them to explore their leadership styles, enhance their leadership capacity and become meaningfully engaged in helping to solve strategic issues facing Bergen County.

Congratulations to the members of the graduating class of Bergen LEADS 2009: Gary Albrecht, Kathleen Bikoff, Ria Bloss, Pastor Rae Brown, Kimberly Caesar, Eric Cawood, Tod Christianson, Mary Connolly, Donna Corrieri, Liz Corsini, David Dubin, Richard Garcia, Marion Gregg-Whited, Mark Heard, Mary Hudson, Laura Kelly, Paul Koretz, Tony Luciano, JoAnn Mathews, Tanya Mayer, Sanetta Ponton, Ellen Rafferty, Sebastian Rodriguez, Mary Rossettini, Treva Spencer-Dupree, Michael Stern, Gretchen Viggiano, Helen Wronski.

For more information, visit the Bergen LEADS blog and website

Bergen LEADS is sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hey Teens! Do something interesting and have some fun this summer!

Do something interesting and have some fun this summer!

Our current economy has made it hard for teens to find summer jobs. Adults are getting positions traditionally filled by college student’s home for the summer, so college students are filling roles traditionally filled by high school students.

But -- there is a solution! Try volunteering! Volunteering can give you some practical experience. You can gain new skills, build your work experience and enhance your resume. Community service activities are an important component for many schools and colleges. And volunteering helps you develop a good work ethic.

There are lots of volunteer jobs available this summer. Check the list the Volunteer Center has put together. You can also utilize our online database at Click the Bergen Volunteens button, and then volunteer opportunities.

So -- Volunteer! The rewards can be valuable, and what else are you going to do all summer?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


The Volunteer Center was in the house Saturday, June 6, in support of a great cause. Banana’s Comedy Club, in Hasbrouck Heights, was packed with friends old and new who came out to have a good time and support the Center's good work.

MC Steve Guilmette hosted the show and gave a great plug to the Volunteer Center. Comedians Steve Keller, Nore Davis and Dan Wilson brought many laughs for all generations. Thanks to everyone who came out -- and shared some laughs for a good cause.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Beauty Is As Beauty Does...

Mentors, moms and kids in our Mentoring Moms program enjoyed "makeovers" galore when Parisian Beauty Academy, in Hackensack, hosted the third annual event for our program. Fifty guests were treated to haircuts, facials and manicures, with services provided free of charge by stylists who donated their time.

Many of the women we mentor live on a shoestring and rarely have the opportunity to enjoy this kind of pampering. As one mom said, "This was such a treat - I haven't been to a hairdresser in years!" It was great fun for everyone.

The Mentoring Moms program recruits, screens, trains and supervises caring mentors for overwhelmed mothers in need of guidance in parenting and life skills as well as in moving from welfare to work. Mentoring Moms is sponsored by the N.J. Div. of Youth and Family Services, PNC Bank, TD Bank and the Junior League of Bergen County.

For more information on the Mentoring Moms program or how you can help please visit the Volunteer Center of Bergen County’s website.
Special thanks to Barbara Patterson (l) and Jane Villar (r) from Parisian Beauty Academy.