Thursday, August 29, 2013

Remembeing 9-11 Through Service

As the 12th anniversary of September 11th draws closer, many people are wondering what they can do to commemorate the tragic events of that day.
The 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance is a coast-to-coast initiative that seeks to observe September 11th as a national day of service, charity and compassion. The 9/11 Day of Service encourages individuals, businesses, schools and other groups to perform acts of service to the community to honor the victims, family members, and survivors of the September 11th attacks on America, as well as the rescue and recovery workers and the thousands of volunteers who gave so much on and following that fateful day.  The goal is to use this day to commit to doing something good for someone else.
The Volunteer Center of Bergen County can help match individuals with opportunities to volunteer; we provide a multitude of choices at hundreds of community agencies.  A comprehensive data base of hundreds of volunteer jobs in and around Bergen County can be found at the Center’s website.
Volunteer Center of Bergen County can be of assistance to those who wish to organize their own projects.   Here are ideas of other simple ways to help:
  • Give blood
  • Donate children’s books to a Head Start center or library
  • Begin collecting money or toys for holiday giving programs
  • Pick up litter in a park or along a sidewalk or roadway
  • Pull weeds in a park or along a sidewalk
  • Paint over graffiti (ask the building owner first!)
  • Offer to run errands for someone who is frail or who is not feeling well
  • Write letters of support to our men and women in the military
  • Donate pet food to a pet shelter
  • Become a mentor to a child, teen or adult through the Volunteer Center’s Mentoring Programs
  • Make tray favors to be distributed to those who receive meals on wheels
  • Offer to sweep a sidewalk or do some gardening for someone who is infirm
  • Donate socks, underwear, and other new items of clothing to a shelter
“We encourage residents of all ages and abilities to mark this day of remembrance with acts of service, helping the less fortunate or a cause in which they are interested,” says Janet Sharma, Executive Director of the Volunteer Center.   “Monetary donations to worthy causes are also needed.  It’s all about recreating the spirit of unity and compassion that arose from the 9/11 tragedy. ”
For more information about the above activities, contact the Volunteer Center of Bergen County at (201) 489-9454.   The Volunteer Center publishes a Guide to Volunteering, which lists more than 100 nonprofit agencies and 400 volunteer positions for people of all ages.  Copies may downloaded free of charge at  or a hard copy can be ordered online with a $5.00 shipping and handling charge.

Friday, August 23, 2013

TD Bank to Sponsor Children’s Activities at Bergen Bike Tour

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, will sponsor the Bergen Bike Tour Kids’ Event, which includes a Kids’ Ride for children 10 and under, and all children’s activities at the 18th annual Bergen Bike Tour, to be held on Sunday September 29, 2013, at Darlington County Park in Mahwah, NJ.  The proceeds from the Bergen Bike Tour will benefit Tomorrows Children’s Fund at Hackensack University Medical Center and the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, both of which have been the beneficiaries of this event since its inception.
"We are proud to support the Bergen Bike Tour and the Volunteer Center of Bergen County,” said Joanne Westphal, Retail Market Manager for TD Bank. “The Kids’ Ride not only supports a great cause, but also helps promote a fun and healthy lifestyle.”
TD Bank has supported the Bergen Bike Tour for many years.  We are thrilled that they will once again sponsor our Kids’ Event, which is always a favorite with the families,” says Phil Murphy, chairman of the event.  “The enthusiastic support of their employees makes the Bergen Bike Tour the fun and successful event that it is.”
The Bergen Bike Tour will feature 50-, 25- and 10- mile routes for cyclists of every level. The Kid’s Ride is held on a special course, where the youngsters ride their Big Wheels, tricycles, and training wheel bikes in a safe and entertaining environment. Fire trucks will be on site for children to explore, and clowns will cheer on our young riders.  After the Kids’ Ride, there will be face painting, pumpkin painting, crafts, games and prizes. A raffle of 4 Jamis Kids’ Bikes will be featured.  The day is capped off with a fun- filled barbeque, DJ music and other entertainment, which is typically enjoyed by more than 300 participants every year.
“This is an amazing event in that it is entirely local.  We are very proud that during the past decade we have been able to turn over an average of 80 percent of the Bergen Bike Tour’s proceeds to our two charities.  This rate far surpasses many events of its kind.  We are confident that with the help of the community and other corporations like TD Bank, we can exceed that in 2013,”   continues Murphy.  “Mark your calendars for Sunday, September 29th." 
 Registration is now openRegistration for adults age 16 and up: $35 ($45 on site); youth age 10-16: $15; children age 10 and under: $10; non-cyclists for picnic only: $5.
For further information about becoming a corporate sponsor, or organizing a group to participate in the Bike Tour call 1-877-BER-BIKE, or visit the website at and register on-line.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

KPMG Battles Hurricane Sandy ... and Wins!

By Kristin Smith
Hurricane Sandy unfortunately is still affecting many residents in Bergen County. Because of the huge aftermath of the storm, there are still volunteer opportunities surrounding the event. KPMG, a member of the Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council, took advantage of this to help fellow neighbors. 
Due to the hurricane, Little Ferry Washington School’s gym flooded with 4-5 feet of water. The school was in dire need of a few new coats of paint before school started again. At first, there was an expectation of about 12-15 KPMG employees that would help with this great cause. Yet, 75 replied!
It was a tremendous success for both KMPG, the BVC, and of course the Little Ferry Washington School. They accomplished so much in only a four day span. 55 employees painted the gym walls (100’ by 70’), 8 classrooms including 4 closets, 1 classroom bathroom, and a large corridor bathroom. KPMG’s team was extremely productive, to say the least.
Thank you KPMG for all your help and thanks to Parasido of Moonachie for some delicious food to keep the employees energized!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Upcoming Gallery Show Benefits the Volunteer Center!

By: Kristin Smith

Andrea Placer is a well-regarded artist, who is having a solo exhibition of drawings and photography at the Piermont Fine Arts Gallery, 218 Ash Street, Piermont Landing, Piermont, NY, from August 29th through September 15, 2013.  Hours are Thurs. & Sun.: 1-6pm; Fri. & Sat.: 1-9 pm and by appointment.

Not only will you be able to view her beautiful paintings and photography, but during Labor Day weekend (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday) 10% of her gallery sales will be donated to the Volunteer Center of Bergen County! Andrea Placer will show her works and, by supporting the Volunteer Center, help to strengthen the Bergen community. 

For more information about Ms. Placer’s show, call 845-398-1907, or visit, to learn more about the artist and for directions to the show. 

Come out to enjoy the show and help the Volunteer Center!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hurricane Sandy Progress

by Kristin Smith

The Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund has been working hard since its founding on November 2, of 2012, only five days after Sandy hit. This independent non-profit organization, headed by First Lady Mary Pat Christie, is dedicated to helping families, small businesses, and communities that are still affected by the devastation of the storm.  The organization focuses on four major areas: rehabilitation of affected homes, social services, including mental health initiatives, financial and legal counseling, and development of small businesses. 

Nine months later, the charity’s success has been remarkable.  The fund raised $38 million dollars, and has to date allocated $15 million in grants to New Jersey non-profit organizations working with New Jersey relief-efforts. $1 million has been awarded to six different county-based Long Term Recovery Committees, including Bergen County!  The progress of the HSNJRF appreciated and, fortunately, is not stopping any time soon.

To date, the Bergen County Long Term Recovery Committee, which is headed by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, has received $600,000 in grants from the Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund, and another grant request of more than $1 million is under review.

To learn more about the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, visit

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Wanted: Heros (a.k.a. Mentors)

Two of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County’s programs, Mentoring Youth and Mentoring Moms, are looking for mentors who are willing to help local families.

For more than 30 years, our Mentoring Youth program has helped children with emotional, behavioral, or social issues. A study by Big Brothers/Big Sisters has shown that a child with a mentor in his or her life is 52% less likely to skip school, 46% less likely to experiment with drugs, and 33% less likely to hit someone or start drinking. With a solid mentoring match, youth experience a positive atmosphere that not only improves their academic performance, but also their sociability.

The next four-week Mentoring Youth training program begins on Wednesday, September 18th. Training is held on Wednesdays from 7:00-9:30 pm at the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, in Hackensack, and there is no charge. Trainees will learn communication skills, about child and adolescent development, and about issues regarding child maltreatment.

Yet, it is not only the children who are in need. Mentors are also needed to help overwhelmed mothers. Mentoring Moms, another program sponsored by the Volunteer Center, helps mothers cope with the myriad daily challenges of raising a family.

Being a mother is hard work; every day there are anxieties, and mothers with no support system may be leading themselves into isolation, resulting in neglect of their children. A mentor can become the mother’s support system and be an encouraging friend, helping the mom break overwhelming challenges into smaller, solvable steps. 

Fall training for the Mentoring Moms program starts on Monday, September 30 from 7:00 to 9:30 pm at the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. Trainees will develop communication and listening skills and learn from previous mentors’ experiences.

For more information about the Mentoring Youth program contact Eva Tobias at 201-489-9454 ext. 121.

For more information about the Mentoring Moms program contact Cindy Andrake at 201-489-9454 ext. 123 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

All in a Day's Work

Our BVC (Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council) is hosting its second annual All in a Day’s Work corporate service day – so get ready!
Area companies are invited to do good and feel good on Friday, September 20, when they can select from a vast array of volunteer projects -- painting to gardening, working with senior citizens or little kids.
The day kicks off with a good breakfast, energizing Zumba lesson, and lots of inspiration from the BVC. After a healthy start to the day, our volunteers will be ready to go out and improve our community.  In the midst of working hard for others, volunteers will be treated lunch and a souvenir to remember the day!
For more information about this year’s All in a Day’s Work visit us online at Interested companies may contact Ellen Lutvak at 201-489-9454 ext. 133 or at
Special thanks to AIADW presenting sponsor TD Bank and with other sponsors: Wells Fargo Advisors, Eastern Bergen County Board of Realtors, Five Star Premier Residences of Teaneck, and United Water.
Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to not only feel good but also to give back to your Bergen community!

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Great Golf Outing

By Kristin Smith

The sixteenth annual Bergen County Golf Classic was a resounding success! We raised more than $80,000, which will be shared equally by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County and Bergen County’s United Way.

The weather gods were smiling on July 29 – sunny, in the 80s with low humidity – and Ridgewood Country Club provided a perfect venue for a challenging 18 holes on the Barclay’s course.  Guests traveled from as far as Kansas City and Florida to join us for this terrific outing.

Since 1998, the Bergen County Golf Classic has raised more than $1.1 million for the Volunteer Center and United Way. This year, both organizations have been very involved in Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, so proceeds from the Golf Classic will provide a welcome infusion of funds.

View photos here.

We could not achieve this success without the generous support of our sponsors.  A special thanks goes to PSE&G, our presenting sponsor for the last 10 years. We are also grateful to United Water, The Hertz Corporation, Holy Name Medical Center, GE Energy, Emblem Health, Russo Development, KEMSCO Construction & Equipment Co., Furino & Sons Inc., (201) Magazine, Park Ave BMW, Burns & McDonnell, UPS, Eii Inc., Columbia Bank, The Dapper Foundation, The Clearing House, O’Connor Davies, Henkels & McCoy, J. Fletcher Creamer & Son, and Synetek Solutions.

We hope to see you all again next year!