Thursday, August 28, 2014

Remembeing 9-11 Through Service

As the 13th 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.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Volunteers Needed to Mentor Mothers and their Families

Women are needed to volunteer with the Mentoring Moms program of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.  These volunteers are trained to work with mothers who are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of children and life.  Fall training begins October 6, 2014.
Raising children is one of the toughest and most important jobs parents face.  It can be a struggle even when the parents have access to resources and social support.
But consider for a moment a single mom.  She has financial worries and few family members to depend upon nearby.  Maybe she, or a member of her family, is facing emotional, behavioral or physical challenges.
She’s living paycheck to paycheck, or maybe just lost her job in the recession.  How can she afford a place to live and food on the table for her family?  She is overwhelmed and doesn’t know how to get the help she needs—food stamps, affordable child care, tips on job searching and resume writing.  She has no one to talk with, to share her ups and downs, and relieve the stress she faces each day trying to keep it together for her family.  In situations like this, the children can be suffering, as well.
The statistics can feel overwhelming, too.   According to 2010 figures from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, an estimated 800,000 children in the United States were found to be victims of child abuse and neglect.  However, child abuse and neglect can be prevented. 
Research has shown that parents who have support from family, friends and the community are more likely to provide safe and healthy homes for their children.  When parents lack this support or feel isolated, they may be more likely to make poor decisions that can lead to neglect or abuse.
Registration is now open for the 4 week Mentoring Moms Fall training, which begins Monday, October 6, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. Call (201) 489-9454, ext. 123, or visit to learn how to become a Mentoring Moms volunteer.
There is an especially great need for bi-lingual Spanish speaking women to become mentors.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

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 19th annual Bergen Bike Tour, to be held on Sunday September 28 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. 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 2014,”   continues Murphy.  “Mark your calendars for Sunday, September 28th." 
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.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Program Planned for 6th, 7th and 8th Graders

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County will be offering a one-week summer service and leadership experience for teens this August.  The program, scheduled for August 25-29, will be held at the Volunteer Center in Hackensack from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm daily.
Ready, Set, Serve is an exciting and challenging summer program for Bergen County students who will be entering the 6th, 7th or 8th grades in September.  Teens will be immersed in a week of interactive, interesting and fun activities, learning leadership skills that will help them make a difference in their schools and communities.
The focus of Ready, Set, Serve is community service.  Through a state-of –the-art curriculum that includes both classroom instruction and experiential training, teens will participate in challenging exercises including community needs analysis, goal setting, team building, project planning, decision making and other dynamic leadership skills.
The Ready, Set, Serve experience continues beyond the one week in summer.   Participants will continue to meet monthly from September through March to discuss and work on individual or group service projects.  A graduation and project presentation will be held in conjunction with the Volunteer Center’s Celebrate Volunteers recognition event in April 2015.
“The ultimate purpose of  Ready, Set, Serve is to help create stronger communities - and a stronger nation - by igniting in young people the ability and desire to make meaningful, lifelong contributions to their communities,” says Debbie Emery, Community Volunteer Services Director at the Volunteer Center.  “Students participating in this program will have a great activity to add to their college applications and resumes, as well as service hours they can use to meet requirements of schools and religious institutions.
The fee to attend this program is $350 per student, which includes all class materials, snacks, beverages and lunch on the Friday, June 27 closing session.  Students provide their own lunch the other days.  The deadline for application is May 27th.   Tuition can be paid online at  Call 201-489-9454 Ext. 118  or email for more information.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Attention: Heros Wanted!

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 17th. 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, October 6, 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.