Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Looking to get outside? Looking to volunteer? Now you can do both!

Spring is here. Did you ever think about volunteering at one of the local nature centers? At this time of year, help is needed to clean up the grounds and prepare the facilities for warm weather. Most facilities welcome individuals, families, students and even schools and youth-based organizations to help them out. So get out your work gloves, your sturdy shoes and go play in the dirt. Here are some places to contact if you want to get outside, do good and feel good – Flat Rock Brook Nature Center in Englewood, Teaneck Creek Conservancy, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission in Alpine, and the Meadowlands Environment Center in Lyndhurst.

For more on volunteering please call Debbie Emery at 201-489-9454, ext. 118.
Picture courtesy of Teaneck Creek Conservancy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Get Your Derby On!

Folks, grab your most festive hat or most outrageous tie and join us on Saturday, May 2nd for the Volunteer Center's 17th Annual Derby Day party! We're serving up a fun, festive afternoon of savory southern food, authentic mint juleps, wine tasting, great music, raffles, auctions and of course, the viewing of the Kentucky Derby - all to benefit the Volunteer Center of Bergen County's programs and services. With President Obama's call to service, the Volunteer Center is experiencing a greater demand for volunteers - and we're seeing more citizens who are inspired to volunteer. With our 42 years of experience, the Volunteer Center is uniquely positioned to respond to these needs. Derby Day is a great way for the people of Bergen County to learn more the Volunteer Center and to support the important work we do in the community. So come on over and see what it's all about! The party will be held at a private garden in Alpine and in the spirit of the Kentucky Derby, awards will be given for the “Most Elegant Hat” for the ladies and “Most Outrageous Tie” for the gentlemen. Tickets are $100 per person. To make reservations or for further information, call (201) 489-9454 or visit www.bergenvolunteers.org and click on the Derby Day icon.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Doing Good, Feeling Good

A year ago, when I was freshman in high school, I made a teacher cry; not tears of frustration, but tears of joy.

In the dark, cramped basement of a Newark church that had been converted into a preschool, I had just finished reading to the students and handing each of them a brand new book to keep. Many of the children were overjoyed, but one little boy was particularly riveted by the book he had received. This boy, I discovered, had been shy and withdrawn, and had never had any interest in books before.

“I have been trying to get him to read all year,” his teacher remarked in wonder, and her eyes actually filled with tears. “Somehow you reached him, Elena.”

At that moment, I felt a new connection to my volunteerism. Since the eighth grade, I have been organizing book drives in my community to collect books for underprivileged schools throughout the area. Additionally, I personally visit schools in Newark and Paterson to read to the children, like I was doing that day in the church. I was not used to seeing the impact of volunteer work firsthand; I was not used to seeing how my project inspired other. But that day, I was the one inspired. I made a teacher cry, and I have never felt more honored.

Submitted by by Elena Tesser, student at Indians Hills Regional High School

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Do you donate online?

With it becoming ever so easy to donate to your favorite non profit agency online, the question is have you donated online? Let us know your experiences.

Get your own Poll!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Online Volunteering - Easier Than You Think

On a rainy day like today or the many more we will have this spring, you might think that the last thing you want to do is go volunteer. Well, we've got you covered! If you would like to volunteer but have trouble getting out due to weather, an injury, a disability or sheer laziness, you can still VOLUNTEER!

With so many advancements in technology you can now volunteer right from your home. Websites like www.onlinevolunteering.org and Volunteer Match (look on the lower right hand side of the website for “Virtual Opportunities”) offer many internet based volunteer opportunities. You can help non-profits with research, writing, recruiting, blogging, IT, and much more. Non-profits are always looking for extra hands and it’s easy to get involved.

Virtual ways you can help the Volunteer Center are by joining our online community on Facebook or LinkedIn and recruiting your friends to get involved.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Celebrate Your Volunteers with the Volunteer Center

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County will host its annual Celebrate Volunteers recognition event on Wednesday, April 1, 2009 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.

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.

“This event is a great way for organizations to honor their volunteers,” explains Janet Sharma, the Volunteer Center’s executive director. “It’s not a competition, and everyone is a winner!”

Reservations are on a first come, first served basis, and are due by March 24, 2008. The cost is $10.00 per person. Call Debbie Emery, (201) 489-9454 ext. 127 to reserve a place.

Volunteers from Pony Power Therapies, Inc.
Volunteers from Mended Hearts Inc. Chapter #140

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Teen's Perspective on Volunteering

I woke up to my blaring alarm clock at 7:00 am and almost fell out of bed. Normally, it’s not a big deal. Usually, I wake up earlier, but it was a Saturday, meaning I aim to skip mornings entirely.

However, after regaining a bit of lucidity I realized today was the day I promised to volunteer at my library. I was one of the members in a reading program for young kids. It was simple enough. Parents who may have work or other responsibilities can drop their child off and my job was to read to them.

After getting there I was directed to the children’s section of the library. I was introduced to a young boy and I asked him what he wanted to be read. He pointed to a children’s anthology, a collection of classics like the Gingerbread Man and Mother Goose nursery rhymes.

More parents came to drop off their children. Some went with others, some chose to stay by me. After two hours and a large pile of books later, my shift was over. Most of the kids were still there and were ushered to my replacement. As I headed out, a few of the kids gave me a few waves and some large smiles. That was about it, but it was more than enough.

I know it’s not the most incredible volunteer opportunity. I doubt that I changed any lives but I did make somebody’s day. That was good enough.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to go back. I entered high school and became extremely busy. Balancing tests, homework, and jobs; by the time there is a moment of freedom, the only thing you can think about is friends or relaxing. And usually any other time my schedule opens up is at awkward hours, making it impossible to find a place to volunteer.

To add pressure, are the volunteer hour requirements. Now, I know that I should say that volunteering should be done because it’s right, not to get something out of it. That’s absolutely true, but repeating it doesn’t change minds. Still, unless you can find something worthwhile it’s impossible to get through. Nowadays it’s nearly impossible to figure out on your own.

Luckily there are places, like the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, to help find opportunities that match you with what you need. This is just one of those things that really become that much easier and that much more rewarding if you’re get a little help.

Submitted by Matt Barnett, High School Senior at the Bergen Academies & Intern at the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.