Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mentor BIG Book GiveAway

It only takes one book to lead to a lifetime love of reading! The Volunteer Center’s mentoring programs held their first Mentor BIG Book Giveaway on Saturday, April 25, and it was a roaring success. The idea behind the event was to promote literacy to families involved in our Volunteers in Protective Services and Mentoring Moms programs, which provide mentors, respectively, to children who have experienced abuse or neglect and to mothers in need of guidance in parenting and life skills. More than 3,000 new books were donated by Reader’s Digest, Hertz Corporation, Heritage Point of Teaneck, United Water, and Pearson Education.

"Lots of schools have book fairs," says Cindy Andrake, Mentoring Programs Supervisor, "But most of the families in our programs can't afford to purchase books. We were delighted to see book bags filled to overflowing and excited youngsters, adults and mentors chattering animatedly about books they couldn't wait to read."

“Children, some of them for the first time ever, got to spend as much time as they wanted picking out books that were important to them,” said Eva Tobias, VIPS Program Assistant.

The Mentor BIG Book Giveaway was sponsored by the Volunteer Center's Business Volunteer Council to promote family literacy.

What book got you hooked on reading?! Write us a comment and let us know.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Derby Day is right around the corner!

Did you answer yes!! Then we are looking forward to seeing you on Saturday, May 2nd from 3:30 - 6:30 at the Volunteer Center's 17th Annual Derby Day party! We have a wonderful afternoon planned with delicious southern fare, authentic mint juleps, great music, wine tasting, prizes, an exciting live and silent auction and of course, the Kentucky Derby!

In the spirit of the Derby, prizes will be awarded for the Most Elegant Hat for the ladies and Most Outrageous Tie for the gents. We suggest that you wear comfortable casual-elegant attire and low-heeled shoes, plus a wrap or jacket if the weather is cool.

Here's a preview of a few items that will be featured in the Derby Day live and silent auction:

One week stay in Martha's Vineyard beach house
Sailboat ride on the Hudson
One week at lakefront retreat in the Catskills
Beachfront accomodations in St. Maarten
Weekend trips to Vermont
Laser facial treatments
Baseball autographed by Joe DiMaggio
Ted Williams autographed photo
Painting of racehorse Secretariat, signed by the artist and Ron Turcotte
Interior Design consultation
Gift certificates, home goods, gourmet items...
and much more!

You'll also want to take a chance on our 50/50 raffle - top prize could be $5,000!

It's not too late to invite more friends to join you - click here for more information or to order tickets online. Questions? Call 201-489-9454 or email

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Volunteer Week

This week is National Volunteer Week and we want to take this opportunity to extend our sincere gratitude to everyone who is lending a hand as a volunteer in our community. The work that volunteers do is often invisible, yet their passion and dedication help make organizations, schools, places of worship and towns the caring, vibrant places that they are.

This is your week, so go ahead and celebrate! While you are at it, raise your arm way above your head, bend at the elbow, and give yourself a big pat on the back!

Earlier this month we hosted "Celebrate Volunteers," an event where we publicly recognized volunteers. Take a look at a video taken at this event. Thanks to Guy Prandstatter and Christene Selleck of Youth Consultation Services (YCS) in Hackensack.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cheer for Chore!

Our Chore Service has received a $7,800 grant from the Bergen County Division of Community Development to provide home repairs that keep the elderly and disabled safe in their homes. Chore's work fits perfectly with the Division of Community Development, whose purpose is to provide funding for municipalities, businesses, and organizations to address community, housing and economic development needs. Chore's crews of dedicated volunteers perform the kind of minor household repairs that make a huge difference for those who can't do the repairs and can find no one else to do them: installing grab bars, fixing faucets, replacing lightbulbs, repairing switches, putting in/taking out air conditioners and storm/screen windows.

Maureen McCormick, Chore program director, extends a hearty "thank you" to the Bergen County Division of Community Development for its generous support of this important program!

For further information about Chore and the other programs sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, call (201) 489-9454, or visit

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Local Companies Support Derby Day Event

The Volunteer Center's 17th Annual Derby Day party, one of the area's best known and highly anticipated spring events, is scheduled for Saturday, May 2nd from 3:30-6:30 pm at a private garden in Alpine. Several local businesses and corporations are lending their support to this event, which provides much-needed, unrestricted support for the Volunteer Center's programs and services, all of which benefit people in Bergen County.

The Reader's Digest's Association and The Provident Bank Foundation are Derby Day's major sponsors, called "Paddock Patrons". Other sponsors include Inserra Supermarkets, J. Fletcher Creamer & Son, Inc., Oritani Bank Charitable Foundation, Stryker Orthopaedics, 201 Magazine, Bergen Health & Life and several individual benefactors of the Volunteer Center.

Guests will enjoy a wonderful afternoon of delicious southern savories provided by Fabulous Foods, authentic mint juleps, wine tasting provided by Tri-Vin Imports, great music, an exciting live and silent auction of unique items, amazing trips and experiences, and of course, viewing of the Kentucky Derby! Guests will cheer on the 135th Run for the Roses on monitors provided by AV Insights. In the spirit of the Derby, prizes will be awarded for the Most Elegant Hat for the ladies and Most Outrageous Tie for the gentlemen.

Please join us for a delightful afternoon in support of the Volunteer Center. Tickets are $100 per person. Call 201-489-9454 for more information or purchase tickets online here. See you at the Derby!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Strategic Planning in Tough Economic Times

Every organization should have a strong strategic plan that determines who it is and where it’s going. Strategic planning is the process by which an organization identifies its resources, develops goals and to achieve those goals. “It’s more important than ever to make sure non profits have strong strategic plan in place,” says Tess Tomasi, Non Profit Training Coordinator at the Volunteer Center. “In these tough economic times, it’s important to stay on top of the issues that may come up.”

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County is presenting a workshop, Strategic Planning for Non-Profits, on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm 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.

The workshop will be taught by Marion Conway, who has a wide range of experience in the non-profit sector, including consulting and leadership roles. She works with nonprofits to develop strategic plans, and is a popular workshop presenter and facilitator of board retreats.

Participants in this workshop will gain the necessary information and skills to:

  • Prepare for the self assessment process in strategic planning

  • Use information from the self assessment to develop action plans

  • Communicate final mission, vision and plan to staff, board, customers and funders

  • Develop the necessary budget plans

To sign up for this class please call Tess Tomasi at 201-489-9454, ext. 114 or email Tess at

Monday, April 6, 2009

Celebrate Volunteers 2009!

Nearly 300 volunteers from across Bergen County were honored at Celebrate Volunteers on Wednesday, April 1. Despite the rain, representatives from 40 nonprofit organizations, schools and civic groups turned out to be honored by the Volunteer Center and their peers for outstanding accomplishments on behalf of those in need.

Brenda Blackmon, co-anchor of My9News, emceed the event and read off the names and accomplishments of 285 volunteers! Students in the Oradell School Advanced Bell Choir (photos below) wowed the audience with a melodic procession into the Grieco Auditorium at the Bergen Academies in Hackensack. Freeholders Julie O’Brien and Reverend Vernon Walton spoke briefly about the value of volunteers, and Bergen County Sheriff Leo McGuire echoed their sentiments.

Rt4West brought down the house with not one - but two - incredible performances of classic rock and bluegrass hits. Elaine Walsh, Volunteer Center board member and Celebrate Volunteers Chair, closed the program with some inspiring words and many thanks.

We are most grateful to Inserra Supermarkets, 201-Best of Bergen Magazine, Bergen County's United Way, Dassault Falcon Jet, and Lakeland Bank for generously supporting the work of the Volunteer Center and the efforts of Bergen County’s finest volunteers.

A splendid night was had by all!