Monday, January 30, 2012

Candidates Sought for Bergen LEADS

Bergen LEADS - an innovative, 10-month learning and leadership program for adults who live or work in Bergen County - is now accepting applications for the Class of 2013. 

Under the guidance of former Bergen County Executive William “Pat” Schuber, the LEADS Seminar Director, participants are immersed in a stimulating curriculum that introduces them to topical issues of local importance and encourages them to explore their leadership styles, enhance their leadership capacity and become meaningfully engaged in helping to solve some of the challenges facing Bergen County.

The online application form for the Class of 2013, which begins September 2012, can be accessed at  and is due by April 13.  Each candidate must complete a simple individual profile form and provide essay answers to specific questions.  The new class of 30 participants will be announced in June.

“Our current economic challenges are certainly caused, in part, by a lack of effective leadership at many levels,” says Janet Sharma, the Center’s executive director.  “Consequently, a persistent question facing every sector is ‘where will the next generation of ethical, effective leaders come from?’” Enter Bergen LEADS, which prepares leaders to take the helm in the years ahead.

“Diversity of participants is essential,” continues Ms. Sharma.  Applicants from business, nonprofit, civic and faith-based organizations and government agencies, as well as from the community at large, are encouraged to apply.  Bergen LEADS seeks representation from the broad array of ethnic, racial, religious and socio-economic groups within Bergen County.  Tuition for Bergen LEADS is $2,000 per person; scholarship assistance is available for those with financial need.

“Bergen LEADS will help participants see the community – and themselves – through new eyes,” says Ms. Sharma.  “The curriculum is interactive, fast-paced and experiential.  Field trips and site visits built into each seminar day will bring Bergen County to life.”

Bergen LEADS has an active graduate organization – Alumni of Bergen LEADS (ABL) - to keep LEADS alumni engaged and active throughout their careers in Bergen County.

Additional information about the program is available at or by contacting Amanda Missey, director, at 201-489-9454. ext. 119, or

Friday, January 27, 2012

Homeless Vets Helped by Many

Generous donors contributed over $3,000 worth of clothing, toiletries and gift cards to the Volunteer Center of Bergen County's recent collection on behalf of area homeless veterans.   The drive was part of a national campaign associated with the Martin Luther King Day of Service to assist veterans, and was the single largest donation of goods ever received by the Bergen County Department of Veterans Services.

“It was very heart warming to see people of all ages and backgrounds donating items for homeless vets,” said Barbara Wiederecht, organizer and director of the Center's RSVP program.  To make a donation to help a homeless veteran, call 201-336-6325.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stay Out of the Cold and Volunteer from Home

Recently, our national affiliate HandsOn, posted a blog about ways to volunteer in the winter.

Here you can view that blog and get some great ideas of what you can do from home this winter to give back to our community.

Some examples are to:
  • Plan your outdoor springtime service project NOW!
  • Gather gently used clothes, toys, kitchen stuff, etc. that you can donate or sell at a yard sale to raise money for your favorite charity!
  • Try micro-volunteering!
  • Use your artistic or crafty talent!

Monday, January 23, 2012

It Ends Today

It Ends Today promotes anti-bullying awareness in schools and communities throughout the country by awarding scholarships to students who talk publicly about their experiences with bullying and its effects on them.  A nonprofit organization, It EndsToday was formed with one purpose: to end bullying now.  It Ends Today also encourages teenagers to speak out against bullying via the internet, in hopes of spreading its message more efficiently.

Christopher Rim, high school senior, founder and president, started It Ends Today during his sophomore year at the Academies@Englewood.  He also reached out to students at Academy of the Holy Angels, in Demarest, to establish a program, and since then It Ends Today has developed into an organized, established non- profit.

It Ends Today offers presentations about different kinds of bullying, the risks and consequences of each, and methods used to tackle bullying.  Presentations and interactive activities are geared for a variety of audiences, including students of all ages, parents and educators.  All presentations, which are live and utilize multimedia, are typically performed by students, but can also include guest speakers and range from one-hour assemblies to full-day events.

In an effort to solicit the help of student peers in spreading the message, It Ends Today, Inc. also offers a $2,500 scholarship opportunity! Students everywhere are invited to create and submit a video of themselves speaking about the effects of bullying, personal experiences, and more. The creator of the video that is deemed most inspiring will receive the scholarship.

For more information about It Ends Today, Inc. and its scholarship opportunity, please visit

Friday, January 20, 2012

Business Volunteer Council Celebrates 12th Anniversary

Being successful in business is about more than doing well.  It’s also about doing good.

Members and supporters of the Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council (BVC) will celebrate twelve successful years of service to the community on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 with a cocktail reception at The Elan, 111 Route 46 West in Lodi, from 6 pm to 8 pm.  Tickets to the event can be obtained by calling Tess Tomasi at 201-489-9454 Ext. 114 or email:

Since its founding in 2000, the BVC has mobilized tens of thousands of corporate volunteers to help children and families by addressing pressing issues like hunger, literacy and education, delivering over $1.2 million in resources to the community. 

Membership in the BVC provides companies with opportunity for networking, professional development, community impact, recognition as a good corporate citizen and free or discounted fees for BVC seminars, events and service activities.

“Now is a great time for companies to join the BVC.  We’re rolling out a dynamic new program, and will announce details at our anniversary event on January 24th,” says Amanda Missey, BVC Manager.  BVC member companies will have free access to nationally-recognized leaders in the realm of corporate social responsibility.  Their employees will have more opportunities for meaningful hands-on involvement, including county-wide volunteer events and customized projects.  Employee participation in hands-on volunteer projects are a great way to increase their satisfaction, build strong teams and get recognition for the company’s community involvement efforts.”

Companies interested in finding out how the BVC can help them to position themselves as effective corporate citizens can call 201-489-9454 Ext. 114 by January 20th, to register to attend the anniversary event, or to get additional information about the BVC.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Expand Your Universe. Mentor.

January 2012 marks the eleventh Annual National Mentoring Month.

The Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership jointly created National Mentoring Month, and are collaborating with the HandsOn Network, as well as other non profit groups to reach out to Americans to “Expand Your Universe.  Mentor”.

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County, which is the local affiliate of the Hands On Network, has been sponsoring mentoring programs for more than 30 years, and is currently seeking men and women age 18 and up to become volunteer mentors to meet the increasing demand. 

Through our Mentoring Youth program, caring men and women provide guidance, friendship and support to youth age 5-18 who have suffered abuse or neglect.  Currently over 100 girls and boys are waiting to be matched with someone with whom they can develop a positive relationship. There is an especially great need for men to mentor boys.  The next training is in April, call Francine to learn more, 201-489-9454, ext. 111.

Mentoring Moms are women who offer their experience and life lessons to help isolated and overwhelmed mothers of all ages.  The volunteers spend time with mothers who are having difficulty coping with parenting, finances, child discipline, and facing daily challenges. The mentors listen, share ideas and offer encouragement, so that the mothers can learn to cope and, in the process, improve their lives and those of their children.  Training begins on January 30.  Call Susan to register, 201-489-9454, ext. 124.

Free six-week, 15 hour training sessions are provided to mentors in both programs.  During this time, the volunteers take workshops on developing listening skills, communication and problem solving.  Guest speakers such as current mentors and social services case workers share their experiences so that new mentors have the background and knowledge to help support their mentees.  All mentors undergo a comprehensive screening process which includes fingerprinting and other background checks.

Both programs also need Bi-lingual Spanish-English volunteers, and both programs will offer training again in April 2012. 

Janet Sharma, executive director of the Volunteer Center, says, “To be a mentor, you don’t need any special skills,” says Janet Sharma, the Volunteer Center’s executive director.  “You just need to be able to listen and to offer friendship, guidance and encouragement to a child or an overwhelmed mom.  And you’ll be amazed by how much you’ll get out of the experience.  So, share what you know.  Become a mentor.”

Friday, January 13, 2012

“Lunch and Learn” for Volunteer Managers

Come and join colleagues when the Non Profit Training and Resource Center of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County hosts a Volunteer Managers’ “Lunch and Learn”  Roundtable on Thursday, January 19 , from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Volunteer Center.

The Roundtables are free, but you must pre-register.  To RSVP, call 201-489-9454 Ext. 118 or sign up online (link) by January 17th.

Bring your own lunch and we’ll provide soft drinks.  Driving directions and parking instructions will be e-mailed to registered attendees before each session.

All professionals who work with or manage volunteers in non-profit, corporate, community, governmental or faith-based settings are encouraged to participate.  Rountables are offered monthly, providing an opportunity for professional growth and interaction with colleagues as well as a forum for sharing ideas and effective practices. The programs are informal yet interactive, with time for networking and group problem solving activities.  Additionally, attendees get updates on programs and services offered by the Volunteer Center to enhance agencies’ volunteer engagement.

 “These Roundtables are informational as well as inspirational”, says Debbie Emery, The Center’s director of Community Volunteer Services.  “Lively exchanges help participants keep their skills sharp, learn new ideas, and get answers to questions about making the most of their volunteer workforces.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"I am a Mentor" Day

Join with mentors and mentoring programs around the country and help inspire others to learn how they can make a difference in the life of a child.  Now in its 11th year, National Mentoring Month focuses attention during January on the need for mentors, as well as how each of us—individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits—can work together to increase the number of mentors to assure brighter futures for young people.  The Volunteer Center of Bergen County is working wit the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and the Corporation for National and Community Service to focus attention on the critical need for mentors. This year’s National Mentoring Month theme is Invest in the future. Mentor a child.

How can you help?

1. Share the Facebook event page with other mentors, mentoring programs and supporters of mentoring.

2. In January, change your profile picture to the “I Believe in Mentoring” badge.

3. Post your experience about being a mentor. Here’s a message you can adapt:  “Did you know I am a mentor with [program]? Being a mentor to [first name of child] is rewarding and has helped me to [have fun, make a difference, learn new things, be a better parent, gain a better understanding of other cultures, etc.]. You can make a difference in as little as an hour a week. Find a mentoring opportunity in your local community today at”

4. Be sure to tag your program in your posts so people can learn more about the program where you mentor.

5. Feel free to post comments and suggestions on this page so other mentors can learn how you are promoting mentoring during National Mentoring Month.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service

Make January 16, 2012 a day “on”, not a day “off”.

Back in 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Holiday as a national day of volunteer service, asking Americans from all walks of life to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy by taking an active role in their communities -- to make it a day “on” instead of a day “off.” 

“This year’s MLK holiday, the first since the opening of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, DC, offers a unique opportunity to build on Dr. King’s marvelous legacy by renewing our commitment to the ideals he promoted,” says Janet Sharma, executive director of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.  “One of these most powerful ideals is service to our communities.

"We encourage individuals and groups to seek out ways to get involved, and we encourage agencies, municipalities and schools to think of projects that can engage people in service as a tribute to Dr. King,” continues Ms. Sharma.  Ideas for projects might be include getting a space painted, having closets or pantries organized, or sponsoring a collection of items that agencies need, such as food, office or school supplies, baby or children’s products.

A wealth of ideas can be found at  In addition, the Volunteer Center will be collecting donations of back packs, toiletry items, sweatshirts (size L and XL), and gift cards to Walmart, Shop Rite, McDonald’s, Subway, and Pizza Hut, during the week before the Martin Luther King Holiday, January 9-14, which will be distributed to homeless veterans .  Click here to learn more about this project and to find other ideas on how you can get involved locally. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

It’s A Wrap!

The New Year is off to a flying start and the joy of the holiday season is just a blur in the past.
However, we do want to extend a very special thank you to all of the donors and agency staff members who made the 2011 All Wrapped Up Holiday Giving Program a tremendous success for nearly 4,000 people in our community.

More that 800 donors helped 900 individuals and 860 families who needed support for the holidays.  Whether you adopted an individual and/or a family, or supported All Wrapped Up through a donation of cash or gift cards, your generosity, kindness and concern are greatly appreciated.  Because of you, someone’s holiday was a little brighter, a little happier and a much more special.

So as we put “All Wrapped Up” to rest, we relish in the thought that you were able to Do Good and Feel Good.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Maximize Volunteer Resources!

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County is offering a  comprehensive, six-hour  course in “Essentials of Volunteer Management” on Thursday, January 26 from 9 am to 3 pm at the Volunteer Center.

Participants will “learn the ropes” from initial development to successful achievement, including these critical steps :
  • Planning the Volunteer Program
  • Recruitment and Placement
  • Orientation and Training
  • Supervision and Recognition
  • Evaluation of the Program
Effective practices and emerging trends in volunteer management will also be discussed, as will marketing to prospective volunteers and supporters with social media and traditional media, engaging leadership-level volunteers, and targeting recruitment efforts to specific demographic groups.

The economic benefits of an efficiently run volunteer program are obvious.  Independent Sector, a Washington coalition of major charities and foundations, places the value of time donated by volunteers at $21.36 per hour, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that nearly 64 million people volunteer an average of 52 hours over a 12 month period.  Volunteers can help the engine of your organization hum with productive activity!

A $75 registration fee includes breakfast, lunch and curriculum binder.   Participants from Volunteer Center Member Agencies pay only $50; contact the Volunteer Center for more information on becoming a Member Agency. Class size is limited, and the registration deadline is January 20.   Enrollment is first-come, first-served, so register now!

For more information about customized training or to register for “Essentials of Volunteer Management”, send an e-mail to:, or call Tess Tomasi at (201) 489-9454 Ext. 114.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Donations Needed for Homeless Veterans

The Volunteer Center will be partnering with the Bergen County Division of Veterans Services to assist homeless veterans as part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.   Beginning Monday, January 9, the Volunteer Center will be accepting donations of backpacks, toiletry kits (toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, soap, comb/brush, razor, shaving cream, small bag to hold items and a set of towels), and sweatshirts  -- sizes large and extra large.  Gift cards to Walmart, Shop Rite, McDonald’s, Subway,  and Pizza Hut are also welcome. 

Donors may drop off these items at the Volunteer Center, 64 Passaic Street in Hackensack, during the week of January 9-13, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, with evening hours till 7:00 pm on Thursday; and from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon on Saturday, January 14.  Call Barbara at 201-489-9333 or email  for more information.   Find out more about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the MKL Day of Service at

Sunday, January 1, 2012