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.