Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Volunteer Center Launches Board Matching Program for Corporations

“Non-profit organizations continually face the challenge of finding committed board members”, states Erica West, Director of Corporate Engagement at the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. “It is estimated that nearly 2 million non-profit board seats need to be filled each year.” The Volunteer Center’s BoardLink fills this gap by providing personalized matching services to skilled corporate professionals who have an interest in giving back to the community through nonprofit board service. By leveraging their 50 years of experience with non-profits and volunteer service, the Volunteer Center is poised to both fill a tremendous need in the community and also provide a real benefit to corporations. Integrating board volunteerism into the workplace is a powerful way to keep employees engaged and fulfilled and help them enhance their leadership skills, while also promoting corporate social responsibility. The community benefits tremendously by having strong leadership at local non-profits that are addressing needs in the community. BoardLink was launched in April 2015 in recognition of National Volunteer Week. 

The Volunteer Center has a growing cadre of more than 40 non-profits in the northern NJ/New York metro area who are interested and ready to take on new board members through BoardLink.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is one company that is working with the Volunteer Center to make BoardLink available to Novartis senior leaders. Their involvement reflects the company’s commitment to engaging their employees in philanthropic initiatives that will further their mission of caring and curing and improve the social environment in which Novartis operates. 

The Volunteer Center will work with Novartis employees to assess their interests and skills, and identify a local non-profit that is a good fit. The Volunteer Center will also provide training to Novartis employees on the roles and responsibilities of a board member, as well as the expectations of serving on a non-profit board. 

“By sharing their vision, strategic thinking and experience with a non-profit organization in the community, Novartis leaders can also enhance their abilities and grow professionally”, states Wanda Sims of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. We look forward to working with the Volunteer Center to engage our leaders in advancing the work of local non-profit organizations.”

For more information about BoardLink, please visit contact Erica West at ewest@bergenvolunteers.org, 201-489-9454, ext. 133.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Want to enjoy a really rewarding experience? Help Bergen County’s senior citizens and disabled people remain safe in their own homes. The Chore Service, sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, performs minor household repairs that senior citizens and disabled persons can neither do themselves nor get anyone else to do.

A Chore Handyperson volunteer goes on service calls one day a week from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm. Volunteers enjoy being part of a crew of two to four people who ride in specially equipped Chore vans. Each crew is assigned 4-5 service calls each weekday.

Last year, Chore volunteers visited over 2,000 homes and performed 4,000 repairs for grateful citizens. This year, the request for service is even greater, and additional volunteers will be needed to fill new and existing shifts.

Studies have shown that volunteers enjoy health benefits, from reduction of stress and lowering of blood pressure to improving self-esteem and enhancing the immune system.

Volunteering with a Chore crew offers an opportunity to get out, meet new people, stay connected with the broader world and share handyman skills.

Prospective volunteers should be able to perform minor household repairs such as those that able-bodied homeowners must do. Ideally, volunteers will be available on a regular basis so Chore can schedule a regular day with the same crew. Volunteer van drivers/handypeople are especially needed.

It’s a great volunteer opportunity for retirees, or people who work second and third shift jobs. Back-up volunteer handymen and women are also welcome.

Call Maureen at
(201) 489-7790 to find out how satisfying it can be to lend a hand to those in need.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Business Volunteer Council Quarterly Meeting

The Business Volunteer Council invites you to attend their quarterly meeting. 

June 25, 9:00am-10:30am
Breakfast, networking and seminar
Location: Meadowlands Racetrack Victory Bar
Guests and Members are free for this event

Network with like-minded professionals, share best practices on employee engagement, and learn about trending topics from experts in the field of CSR and the nonprofit sector.
This month, join us at the Meadowlands Racetrack Victory Lounge for breakfast and networking followed by a presentation on the impact of Pro Bono Skills Based Volunteering featuring Amy Klein, Executive Director of VolunteerConnect.
Amy will share how your business can enhance it's volunteer program by engaging employees in measurable short-term impact projects with nonprofits needing their support. Many nonprofits don’t have the financial means to pay for all the skills they need to carry out their missions. Employees who provide expertise in areas such as business analysis, marketing, strategic planning, and IT services can make a tremendous difference helping nonprofits create social change.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Bergen Leaders Present Public Forum on Suburban Downtowns

The 2015 Class of Bergen LEADS, Bergen County’s premier civic leadership program,  
presented a Public Forum on the topic “Revitalizing and Refocusing Bergen County Suburban Downtowns” on June 9, 2015 at Bergen Community College. The Public Forum showcased the Bergen LEADS class project, which was the culmination of the 10-month learning and leadership development program managed by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.

Issues such as demographics, housing, transportation, parking and safe communities were presented and discussed, with creative solutions to current challenges presented. Several government officials attended, including Ray Cywinski, Mayor of Demarest and graduate of Bergen LEADS Class of 2010, and Freeholder Tracy Zur. The Public Forum was moderated by Francis Reiner, an accomplished professional planner, urban designer and landscape architect with more than 20 years of experience working in both the public and private sector, including the Hackensack Downtown Rehabilitation and Redevelopment Plan. The event was sponsored by Rockland Electric Company.

The 24 men and women in the Bergen LEADS Class of 2015 have met monthly since September to dissect issues, debate viewpoints and get a first-hand look at Bergen County’s infrastructure. The Forum is the culmination of the seminar year for the Class of 2015. After the Forum, the class participated in a graduation ceremony led by Bergen LEADS Seminar Co-Directors, former Bergen County Executive William “Pat” Schuber, and Volunteer Center CEO and Englewood City Councilwoman-at-Large Lynne H. Algrant.

Members of the graduating class are: Cindy Andrake, Tonice Bunting, Maria Deptula, Rhona Feimster-Vega, Beth Figman, Eric Hugo, Shonya Jordan, Blake Levine, Kimberly Lewis-Banks, Mark McKoy, Erika Monell, William Mulaney, James Narin, James O’Leary, Kristen Pakonis, Isabel Perez, Tenia Peterson, Scott Reddin, Marisa Santiago, JoAnne Seibel, Charisse Taylor, Paul Thomasset, Eric Tomaszewski and David Van Schalik.

Bergen LEADS is sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, which has successfully engaged Bergen County residents in civic life for 49 years. Bergen LEADS - led by former Bergen County Executive William “Pat” Schuber - carries on that tradition by providing an extraordinarily rich, diverse and stimulating program focusing on topical issues, leadership and community trusteeship.  Learn more at bergenleads.org.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Fifth Friday Celebrates 15 Years of the Volunteer Center’s Business Volunteer Council

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County’s Fifth Friday is a premier networking event, bringing together leaders from every sector in Bergen County. The May 29, 2015, Fifth Friday event focused the importance of corporate social responsibility by celebrating 15 years of the Business Volunteer Council’s impact on the community. 

The Business Volunteer Council (BVC), a program of the Volunteer Center, engages businesses and their employees in volunteer service and workplace giving, and enhances corporate social responsibility. Utilizing the mobilization of corporate employees, the BVC has helped solve serious social issues facing our community.

Business Volunteer Council Chair, Marc Sturiale, Premier Five Star Residences, and BVC member, Ellen Rafferty, BD, gave a brief presentation sharing the mission and 15 years of the Business Volunteer Council’s accomplishments to over 200 guests in attendance at Fifth Friday.

Since 2000, the BVC has mobilized over 5,300 volunteers, clocked over 30,000 volunteer hours and provided 1.8 million in resources to benefit our children and families in areas of hunger, health and education. According to the value scale of the national independent sector, the estimated total monetary value of BVC volunteer hours is $552,160!

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County is proud of all those who make the Business Volunteer Council such an important part of our community!

If you would like to learn more about becoming a member of the Business Volunteer Council, please contact Erica West, 201-489-9454 ext 133.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Volunteer Center Announces New Officers and Board Members

At its Annual Meeting on June 4th, The Volunteer Center of Bergen County announced newly elected Officers and Directors.

Michael P. Smith of Park Ridge was elected Second Vice President. Mr. Smith is Executive Director, Global Risk Management at KPMG and a volunteer with St. Bernard Project in New Orleans. Patricia Basilo of Tenafly was elected for a second, one-year term as Secretary. Ms. Basilo is a Business Development Consultant and a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, Eva’s Village and has been a participant in the Bergen Bike Tour for 12 years. She has been a member of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County for six years and has served as Chairperson of several committees and events. Rosemary Ervin, CPA and Partner with the Hunter Group was re-elected as Treasurer. She was the former Treasurer of the Girl Scout Council and is also active with Presentation Church in Upper Saddle River and the NJ Society of CPA’s.

Elected to a second, three-year term were: Katherine Norian, resident of Oradell, member of the Oradell Board of Education and Chairperson of several Volunteer Center events including Derby Day and Celebrate Volunteers; Jose Vicente, resident of Kearny, Financial Advisor at Ameriprise Financial Services and member of Bergen LEADS Class of 2011; Joanne Westphal, resident of Dumont, Vice President/Regional Marketing Manager Northern Region at TD Bank, member of Bergen LEADS Class of 2010 and Co-Chair of the Volunteer Center’s Business Volunteer Council.

Elected to a first, three-year term were: Jim D’Agostino, Jr., resident of Montvale and Vice President, JD Companies; Michael Huxley, resident of Franklin Lakes, Vice President and Sr. Private Client Advisor, Wilmington Trust; Kathleen Pless, resident of Saddle River and Senior Loan Underwriter, Investor’s Bank; Mayra Sacco, resident of North Haledon, former Managing Director and Business Manager of the Government Solutions Group in BNY Mellon’s Corporate Trust Division; Farah N. Ansari, Esq., resident of Edgewater, Associate at Schenck Price Smith & King, LLP and First Vice Chair of the Taxation Section of the NJ State Bar Association.

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County strengthens the community by connecting people through service and developing civic leaders. For information about Volunteer Center programs and services, call
201-489-9454 or visit www.bergenvolunteers.org.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Volunteer Center CEO's Letter to the Editor about Teen LEADS appeared in The Record


Today's Teens Are Tomorrow's Leaders

Regarding "Getting a different view from Tenafly teenagers" (Page L-6, June 6):
Ridgewood Teen LEADS with Lynne Algrant, CEO of Volunteer Center of Bergen County, Paul Aronsohn, Ridgewood Mayor and Albert Pucciarelli, Ridgewood Deputy Mayor
"Once I am of age, I will never miss the opportunity to vote at every local election. It is a privilege that should not be missed."
These are the words of Ridgewood High student Isabelle Stern, who participated in Teen LEADS, a civic leadership program for teens.
The article refers to this program, which was developed by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County and is based on our highly regarded leadership program for adults, Bergen LEADS.
Teen LEADS is presented through schools as an extracurricular activity or in conjunction with an elective course, and it is currently offered at Ridgewood and Tenafly high schools. Teens are given the opportunity to explore, in-depth and experientially, the inner workings of local public policy while also discovering and developing their own leadership styles.
In Ridgewood, Teen LEADS participants delved deep into issues of health care, municipal government, education and environmental issues, compiling and analyzing data, meeting with local leaders and policy makers and working together tnot only to identify problems, but to provide real solutions.
Teen LEADS empowers our youth to be the informed, inspired leaders we will need and depend on to be stewards of our future. As a community, we should be proud of — and pay attention to — our youth, who have the interest, ability and fresh perspective to make public policy happen.
Lynne H. Algrant, CEO, Volunteer Center of Bergen County

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Volunteer Center Presents Leadership Workshop to Emerson High School Students

On May 22, the Volunteer Center of Bergen Country presented a Student Leadership Workshop for 42 student leaders form Emerson High School’s Student Council and student service clubs. The enthusiastic youth leaders spent the day working on leadership styles, team building and service planning, all for the benefit of the varied clubs and student government at their school. 

Students in grades 9-12 took a look at their current club and organization activities and began to brainstorm ways in which they could reach out to and get more involvement from their peers. The workshop included presentations, discussion and a variety of hands-on activities designed to explore leadership styles, working as part of a team and creative problem solving. 

Under the direction of Debbie Emery, Director of Community Volunteer Services for the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, the teens looked at their personal strengths, goals and areas for improvement. Their ultimate goal is to create a more unified, while still diverse, student body, working together to make a greater impact in promoting care and concern for their community and future. 

“Teens are creative and excited about generating change and strengthening their school, their community and ultimately their world, stated Debbie Emery.“ We had a wonderful day working and dreaming and thinking out of the box.”

To find out more about the Volunteer Center’s youth service learning and leadership programs, including the summer program Ready Set Serve, visit bergenvolunteers.org or contact Debbie Emery at 201-489-9454, ext. 118 or demery@bergenvolunteers.org.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Volunteer Center Receives Grant From PNC

The PNC Foundation recently awarded a $10,000 grant to the Volunteer Center of Bergen County. Funds will support the Volunteer Center’s Mentoring Moms program, which matches overwhelmed mothers, many of whom are single parents, with caring mentors who provide emotional and practical support by helping them with everyday parenting challenges, including financial issues and other struggles. 

The funds will be used to support the recruitment, screening, training and supervision of mentors, as well as to provide activities to strengthen families and enhance educational opportunities for the children involved in the program, such as a free book fair and a back to school workshop. 

PNC, through the PNC Foundation, has supported Mentoring Moms for the past 11 years, helping struggling mothers to work toward providing stability and safety for their families, and encouraging healthy child development for their children so that they can succeed in school. PNC grants are provided by the PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group. 

“We are so grateful to PNC for supporting the mothers and families in our program,” says Cindy Andrake, Program Director for Mentoring Moms. “Funding for workshops and events allows us to provide valuable learning opportunities which not only impacts mothers, but their children as well.” 

More women are needed to become mentors—there is an especially great need for bi-lingual, Spanish-speaking mentors. To find out how to become a mentor, or to pledge a donation to support the Mentoring Moms program, call (201) 489-9454 or visit www.bergenvolunteers.org and click on mentoring programs.

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County strengthens the community by connecting people through service and developing civic leaders.

The PNC Foundation actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a $350 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.