Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Entertainers playing Santa

The Residents of the Lillian Booth Actors Fund Home played Santa for the moms from Bergen Volunteer Center’s Mentoring Moms Program.  

The Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey, is an assisted living and skilled nursing care facility, which provides a comfortable living environment for 124 entertainment professionals.  Wanting to provide a some holiday cheer and kindness, the group created lovely gift bags for 53 women to receive this holiday season.  Shopping, sorting and wrapping were all part of the project. 

One of the residents remarked “We had so much fun and it felt good to something nice for someone else.”  

To help others in need for the holidays please visit bergenvolunteers.org.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Imagine the difference an extra $2,300 can make for a struggling family. That is the amount of the average Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) earned by families in New Jersey. Now consider the fact that NJ has the 8th lowest EITC participation rate among the 50 states in the United States, with nearly 23% of eligible families leaving money on the table by forgoing EITC.  You can help low-income families claim EITC and other eligible tax returns as a volunteer tax preparer through the IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

You don’t have to be a math whiz, a computer genius, or have any prior accounting experience to become a VITA volunteer.  The Bergen Volunteer Center will provide you with the training you’ll need to have a rewarding experience, as you work one on one with people in our community.  Free income tax preparation is available through the VITA program to ensure hardworking families take advantage of all Earned Income and Child Tax Credits, leading to larger refunds and nearly immediate extra cash.  Not only will you be making a difference in our community, you will also obtain a valuable life skill while gaining a resume building experience.

In January, we will hold free training sessions to help you become certified VITA preparers.  Training's will take place over two Saturdays, January 21st and 28th, from 9 am to 4 pm.  Tax preparation sessions will occur across four Saturdays- 2/11, 2/18, 2/25, and 3/4- from 9 am to 1 pm.  All training's and preparation sessions will be held at the Bergen Volunteer Center (64 Passaic Street, Hackensack).

For more information on how you can become a VITA volunteer, contact Soojin Son at 201-489-9456 or sson@bergenvolunteers.org.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

In Our Hearts

The Bergen Volunteer Center and Bergen LEADS lost a great friend last week with the passing of Kevin Wright.

Kevin had a wonderful way of making Bergen County's history so relevant and so immediate.  The first time I heard him speak, he read random headlines from Bergen County newspapers.  The headlines from 1870 and 1890 were so similar to the ones in 2009.  As we tried to guess the era, Kevin had that delightful, impish smile on his face, as we got it wrong every time.

After the Arab Spring, Kevin urged us to remember that the very notion of representative democracy would not exist had George Washington not saved the bridge at New Bridge Landing. As we stood looking at the little bridge, he drew pictures of the hopes and dreams of people the world over--to live in a government for the people, by the people.

Whenever I think about the local economy, I remember Kevin describing Bergen County as the "Saudi Arabia" of New York--as our forests fueled the industrial revolution.  And local debates about growth, development and education were waged between the "pumpkin dusters" and the "city folk."

Kevin reminded us always that our history is rich, relevant and just below the surface of so much of what we do and experience today.

We have lost a good friend and a masterful teacher. He will be sorely missed, but I will delight in quoting his wonderful turns of phrase.

Lynne Algrant

Monday, August 29, 2016

A BIG Thank You to BCB - Your Community Bank

On behalf of the Board of Directors, the staff and most especially, the Mentors of the Bergen Volunteer Center, we want to thank BCB-Your Community Bank for establishing the BCB Community Bank Mentor Support Fund.  

Bergen Mentors, which is both Mentoring Youth and Mentoring Moms does such outstanding work to support some of our most vulnerable neighbors.  It is hard to describe the generosity of spirit Mentors bring to their mentees.  For them to know that the Bergen Volunteer Center is now has a fund to help in an emergency and to provide more and more exciting strengthening activities to help build trust, friendship, joy and love is so comforting to those who already give so much of themselves.

In 2015, we used the BCB Community Back Mentor Support Fund in the following ways:
  •      To reimburse mentors for expenses they incurred meeting with their mentees.  While many mentors never seek reimbursement, we are committee to having it available so that anyone with the will can be a mentor. With your support, we have increased the Mentoring reimbursement level to $35 a month.
  •      To help mentoring families in an emergency. We replaced a broken refrigerator and provide grocery store gift cards to restock it for a Mom in August. We purchased bunk beds for a family moving out of the shelter into their own apartment. When we discovered that some mentors were using their reimbursement money to buy groceries for their mentees, we started to keep grocery store gift cards on hand for that purpose. 

These examples are extremely important; they give mentors peace of mind as they advise their mentees. However, the best part of your support is the number and variety of experiences we were able to organize for mentors and mentees and for mentoring Moms, their children and their mentor.  These family strengthening activities are essential to building lasting relationships and lasting change in lives that have been fractured.

In 2015, Bergen Mentors organized the following activities:
  •          A trip to Gravity Vault for wall-climbing;
  •          A trip to the Bronx Zoo;
  •          A Thank You brunch for Mentoring Youth Mentors;
  •          A Mentoring Moms and Mentors Mother’s Day Brunch;
  •          The Bergen Mentors Picnic;
  •          A Halloween  party;
  •          Two Holiday parties; and
  •          A trip to the Botanical Garden.

It is impossible to quantify the impact of your investment, except to say thank you and to show you the transformation and joy your generosity has created.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Showtime for Mentoring Youth

Recently mentees from our Mentoring Youth program had the chance to see Les Miserables through an amazing arts program at the bergenPAC called Arts Access.

The Arts Access Program is an initiative developed by bergenPAC to further its mission of making the live performing arts accessible to all. bergenPAC is providing free tickets to organizations who serve individuals who would otherwise be unable to experience the live performing arts in an effort to enhance the quality of life of the residents in our diverse community.

Mentor, Christine, took her mentee, Destiny, to see her first show a few weekends ago.

“The show was great! I was really impressed by the cast, staging and orchestra. The production value was excellent. My mentee enjoyed it as well. This was her first show EVER, and she seemed to have really liked it,” said Christine.

Without programs like Arts Access children in our Mentoring Youth program would not have had exposure to a basic life experience many of us take for granted every day.

Thank you bergenPAC!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Bergen County Companies to Collect School Supplies for Children in Need

Business Volunteer Council (BVC), a program of the Bergen Volunteer Center, is sponsoring a collection to provide school supplies for hundreds of children who are from low-income families, in foster care, or who are homeless. Community-minded companies are invited to participate in the “Tools for Schools” initiative which runs until August 26th. Because of the generosity of our corporate sponsors; Suez, Five Star Premier Residences, PSEG, and BD, employee volunteers will collect school supplies and deliver them to non-profit organizations including Bergen Volunteer Center, Center for Food Action, Children’s Aid and Family Services, and Youth Consultation Services.

This September starts a new school year for the children in our community. However, not all of these children will have the supplies they need to be successful. One in five children do not have access to basic school supplies because of their family’s economic circumstances. “It’s hard to imagine as a parent, having to tell your children that we don’t have the funds to go school shopping. But this is the reality for many families in Bergen County” says Erica West, Director of Corporate Engagement. “Attending class without the required materials is anxiety provoking for children and it sends a message that their education isn’t valued. I believe as a community we are responsible for ensuring every child feels their success is not only possible but important. By providing basic school supplies to these students, they have one less obstacle in their way of succeeding in school.”

The BVC will coordinate the drive with companies to collect the school supplies based on lists that have been developed in coordination with the social service agencies. Any company wishing to participate can contact Erica West at the Bergen Volunteer Center at (201) 489-9454 Ext. 205 to receive an organizational packet with complete instructions on how to organize and conduct the campaign.

The Volunteer Center’s Business Volunteer Council gives businesses a platform to successfully engage employees through volunteer service and workplace giving. The BVC provides customized volunteer projects including skills-based volunteering and support for corporate social responsibility initiatives. The BVC makes doing good a good part of doing business by building high-impact employee-led programs that are locally significant and socially relevant. Companies with the right engagement tools and guidance can create incredible social change while having a fun, memorable team building experience!

The Bergen Volunteer Center is celebrating 50 years of service in our community. We are redefining volunteerism by inspiring and developing the members of our Community to make an impact. The Bergen Volunteer Center turns caring into meaningful action by engaging volunteers to meet community needs.

Our core mission has remained constant but our ability to stay current and adapt in an ever changing economic and social environment has been the key to our enduring success. The Bergen Volunteer Center will continue to serve Bergen with strength and a robust, ever expanding purpose: Look Forward. Get Involved. Give Back.

For more information on membership in the BVC, call Erica West at 201-489-9454 Ext.205; e-mail ewest@bergenvolunteers.org, or visit www.bergenvolunteers.org/BVC.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hearts of Bergen - Chloe Fernandez

Meet Chloe,

Diagnosed at age 6 with a severe breathing and lung disorder known as PCD – Chloe Fernandez, now 9, of Ridgewood spent most of the next three years going in and out of the hospital dealing with this rare genetic condition.

PCD, or primary ciliary dyskinesia, is an inherited disorder that prevents the lining of the lungs, or cilia, from removing mucus and foreign material that enters the lungs through the airways and often leads to restricted breathing or severe difficulties with breathing.

During those three years of hospitalizations, at her mom’s urging, she kept a journal of her thoughts, feelings, dreams, and hopes. Although she is a student now in fourth grade in Ridgewood’s Somerville School, much of the last few years have been spent being home-schooled and away from her peers to reduce her exposure to germs.

To see what other kids were going through who had PCD, Chloe and her mom, Leslie, searched through the children’s hospital library at Hackensack University Medical Center looking for a book that could help her to know what to expect and how to manage the condition.

Both came up empty-handed, surprised that nothing was available. Then Chloe had an idea: She could write a book for children with PCD and help them. A few years before, Chloe had been inspired by an author who visited her school and talked about writing and books.

With the help of Make-A-Wish New Jersey, Chloe became the first-ever Make-A-Wish recipient to write a book. Titled “PCD Has Nothing On Me,” the 47-page illustrated book chronicles Chloe’s young journey through diagnosis, treatment, and hospitalizations in 13 chapters such as “Mommy, Why Me?” “No Playdates,” “Swimming Will Help,” and “Fancy Without Perfume.”

Her introduction includes four pages of thanks and appreciation to her doctors, nurses, medical staff, Make-A-Wish, teachers, friends, family and dog, Abby. “This book is dedicated to all the kids with chronic illness: Stay strong, stay positive, keep the faith and never stop believing in miracles,” she writes.

Following surgery last year, Chloe is on a regimen of seven medications, including steroids and antibiotics, a “mostly” vegan diet, and uses a nebulizer and airway clearance vest to help her breathe.

She recently did two book signings: in June at Barnes & Noble in Paramus and in July at Little Skye Children’s Boutique in Ridgewood. She said that Make-A-Wish surprised her before the Barnes & Noble book signing by providing a white stretch limousine to chauffer her to the event. It was the first time she rode in a limousine. She said almost 100 people were at the event and 60 books were sold.

Chloe equally splits all proceeds from her book sales to Make-A-Wish New Jersey, and Josephine’s Garden at the HUMC Children’s Hospital. She spent hours enjoying the garden as a pediatric patient and wants her book to “give back” to both organizations, and especially the children’s garden.

“That place was very special to me … I forgot about my IVs, and my worries when I was up there,” said Chloe. The garden was named after another pediatric patient, Josephine Rispoli, who, with her mother Heidi, dreamed of a garden for children at the hospital. Though Josephine succumbed to a malignant brain tumor in 2011, Josephine’s Garden opened at HUMC in 2012.

Chloe said that a book signing is anticipated at HUMC’s solarium in August or September.

For now, Chloe said that she is “feeling good” and enjoying the summer. She said it’s been “about a year” since she was last hospitalized for her condition. Upon mom’s advice, she said she is following a vegan diet except for an infrequent bacon and eggs breakfast. The vegan diet – basically a no meat, eggs and dairy diet - helps reduce build-up of mucus in her lungs.

In addition, her doctor advised her to take up swimming and she herself has joined a harmonica-playing group that meets Wednesdays at Holy Name Hospital. She also plays piano. Both swimming and harmonica-playing boost lung capacity and help assist lung function. Chloe said she plays and swims weekly to help her lungs.

In 2015, Chloe and her mom participated in Bergen Volunteer Center’s “All Wrapped Up” holiday giving program and learned about the many activities that volunteers perform daily throughout the county. She said she wanted to do something to support the center and its work.Chloe has decided to donate 100% of the proceeds of her book to the Bergen Volunteer Center now through the end of the year when the book is purchased through this link for the BVC to get create. Purchase PCD Has Nothing On Me today

In addition to being an author, Chloe has modeled and been featured in Ultra Style and Talent Magazine. “I’m very, very stylish,” she said with a smile. Currently she has another book in the works, and her mom, who monitors her social media accounts, said she has a few hundred Twitter and Instagram followers.

“I think it takes braveness and strongness to volunteer. Stay strong and stay awesome,” wrote Chloe in a copy of her book she donated to BVC’s library.

By Michael Olohan, BVC Volunteer

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Expert Exchange Series - Will You Wait A Moment?

Wednesday, August 17 
1:00 - 2:00 PM 

Bergen Volunteer Center is offering a variety of free live webinars on various topics. These one-hour online sessions are for anyone who wants to continually learn or get more information on a topic. While they are FREE, you do need to register to participate. Click here to register.

August's panel is about learning how the practice of Mindfulness can create space to transform from an over-reactive frame of mind to one of non judgement and peaceful awareness. In today's fast-paced, technology laden world, learning how to take a moment, offers boundless rewards. Experience how simple techniques can become a daily practice to open the mind to imagination, awareness, compassion and transparency that will ultimately benefit you, your organization, customers, shareholders and community. Come join 2WallStreetChicks in this interactive webinar that will lead you to more joy and balance in your life.

At the end of the webinar participants will know: 
  • What is Mindfulness and why it's critical in today's constantly changing world. 
  • Why Mindfulness will make you a better leader and person, and some practical strategies to have in your leadership toolkit. 
  • How Mindfulness strengthens your ability to be Resilient.
 All sessions will be recorded and can be accessed at www.bergenvolunteers.org. To view our previous Expert Exchange webinars click here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Resolution 2016

The following towns in Bergen County have passed a proclamation in Honor of Bergen Volunteer Center’s 50th Anniversary. These towns include Alpine, Bogota, Cliffside Park, Closter, Cresskill, Demarest, Edgewater, Fort Lee, Hillsdale, Ho Ho Kus, Little Ferry, Norwood, Park Ridge, Ramsey, Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, Ridgewood, Rutherford, Saddle River, Tenafly, Upper Saddle River, and Woodcliff Lake. More towns have put this resolution in their agenda and Bergen Volunteer Center is expected to receive them by November of 2016.

 Bergen Volunteer Center has been a champion of volunteerism, community service and civic engagement. It’s commitment to community engagement is longstanding, dating back to 1966 when it was established to meet community needs through the  power of volunteers. It’s direct service programs organize volunteers to provide invaluable support to some of Bergen’s County’s most vulnerable citizens.

Today, Bergen Volunteer Center is addressing critical challenges ranging from at risk youth, overwhelmed moms, and seniors. The Mentoring Youth program has recruited, trained and supervised volunteer mentors for children who have been abused or neglected. Since 1978 Mentoring Youth has provided a trusted mentor to more than 3,700 children. The Mentoring Moms program recruits, trains and supervises mentors for mothers whose children are at-risk for abuse or neglect. Since 1995 more than 500 mothers have been matched with a mentor. The Chore Service provides home safety repairs for senior citizens and the disabled free of charge through the volunteer efforts of senior citizens. The Business Volunteer Council organizes corporations to help eliminate hunger and illiteracy.

This resolution demonstrates the power of volunteerism in promoting community and civic engagement and promulgating the idea that at 50, Bergen Volunteer Center is not getting old; it is just getting started.

Hearts of Bergen- Ashley

Meet Ashley,
Ashley started her gold award (the highest achievement for a girl scout) in 2015. She began working with the Bergen Volunteer Center and the Bergen County Bureau of Veterans Affairs on a project to serve the homeless and low-income veterans in Bergen County. Working with Debbie Emery Director of Community Engagement, she set up the event called The Veterans Resource Fair, which took place on April 20, 2016. Ashley, with the help of corporate and community volunteers, distributed toiletries and clothing items donated by individuals and companies from our area. Ashley said that looking back, she did not think the veterans would have such a profound impact on her. For her, it was a life changing experience to connect and talk to these veterans. Ahsley said, “The best thing was the joy on their faces after receiving what they needed. Each and every veteran I talked to had a different perspective and outlook on life. Each of their stories was incredible and important to hear.”

Hearts of Bergen- Rita

Meet Rita,
Rita has volunteered at the Bergen Volunteer Center and Hackensack University Medical Center as a way of giving back her time to assist others in need. She says “ I have gained much experience and knowledge over the years in various areas and disciplines and I am pleased to share that with many”. Rita started volunteering years ago while planning for retirement. It makes her feel useful.
For Rita being a part of the Bergen Volunteer Center's Mentoring Moms program and spending time with moms who need a helping hand, encouraging words and validation that they are cared for, is the best part of it all. At Celebrate Volunteers back in March, Rita received a certificate of recognition from the Mentoring Moms program and the Bergen Volunteer Center as they celebrated volunteers.

Hearts of Bergen- Chris

Meet Chris,

Chris started volunteering when he was 13 years old at many different places. It all started when he needed service hours for confirmation. He liked it so much, he continued to volunteer. He volunteers for his local soccer club, food banks and clothing drops. Volunteering makes him feel good about helping others. He says that when volunteering with a big group, it’s really fun. Helping others makes him feels good about himself. He is proud to be a contributing member of society. For Chris, volunteering makes him feel fortunate. When he was in high school, he received an award as a part of a leadership program.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hearts of Bergen- Lisa

Meet Lisa,
Lisa is an outstanding volunteer. She volunteers at the Ronald McDonald house, the Church in Ridgewood, Kiawah Cares and Bergen Volunteer Center. She likes to volunteer as it helps her connect to the community. She uses her time to give back to the community and make an impact. Lisa has been volunteering for 30+ years because she has the time to do it. Since she has moved many times, it was a way to get to know her community better. Lisa likes to do something meaningful with her time to help benefit others. The best part about volunteering for Lisa are the relationships and friendships she has made. She has received a certificate for her work and donating her time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Business Volunteer Council Joins Forces with Veteran Experts

By Erica West

On June 9, 2016, Bergen County members of the Business Volunteer Council “Joined Forces” with experts in Veteran Affairs, at Sharp Electronics, Mahwah, to explore the benefits of hiring service men and women and providing them a supportive work environment to thrive.

Eli Amdur, career coach and columnist for North Jersey Media, opened the discussion by reminding us, “We need to do more than say thank you to our veterans; we need to support them.”

Yes we do, but make no mistake, hiring a veteran is far from an act of charity.

Veterans have more world experience, leadership skills, and applied more critical problem solving in high stress situations, at 22, then most of us will our whole lives. So, you’ll have to excuse me if I’m confused; aren’t these some of the top qualifications employers say they’re seeking from candidates?

Yet, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports the jobless rate for all veterans is 4.6 percent. More alarmingly, Gulf War-era II veterans (September 2001 to present) is 5.8 percent. Many of Gulf War-era II veterans, more than any previous recorded combat, are women. Making the number of jobless service woman, staggeringly higher at 6.4 percent.

So where is the discrepancy?

Part of the problem is veteran numbers are growing and jobs aren’t growing fast enough. And even amid the listless hiring rates of a slack economy, men and women with combat experience are being purposely ignored by some employers who fear they may have the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. This type of stigma is creating roadblocks to veteran’s transition to corporate America.

Veterans who apply for corporate jobs should carry not a stigma, but a glowing recommendation. They are wired to work long hours with minimal sleep, start early, be trained quickly, and complete assigned tasks — all with a certain intensity and focus that only can be sharpened by combat experience. These are just a few of many qualities veterans possess that make them ideal employees. Eli Amdur highlights, 16 additional strengths in his 2010 article, From uniform to workplace: your next big victory. Why America’s veterans are great hires. 

Some companies, including New York-based financial giant Citi Bank, have recognized that service members carry unique talents from the battle field into the boardroom. They have paved the way among fellow corporate giants in hiring1,000s of veterans. So what can we do here in Bergen County on a local level?

As, Bergen County businesses, we are poised to do more than simply salute our veterans; it is our responsibility to be part of the solution. The great news is you can start today.

Below are a list of some resources our panelist assembled to help you and your business get started.

  • Make an organization-wide commitment to hiring and retaining veterans. From top to bottom, and across all departments, a commitment to veterans must be ingrained into the culture of the organization, and often, hiring managers and Human Resource staff need to be trained on the intricacies of hiring veterans.

o    You can partner with the Bergen County Veteran Services for veteran referrals by contacting, Ariel Luna, Director of Veterans Services
  • Create support services for veterans and their families, including increased workplace flexibility programs, and an employee resource group for veterans.
  • Access/training to self-care tools for stress relief and relaxation (i.e. PTSD FREE App / SIG Online Membership Tools) 
  • You can contact Brett Cotter, Stress is Gone or Gabriel Ramos, Director of Engagement at Headstrong Project to assist with establishing usable resources for veterans in the workplace.
  •  Build trust and a relationship with the veteran community. Build visibility among veterans and veteran organizations. State that you are — a veteran-friendly employer. Use your organization’s website to showcase your commitment to veterans. Create a section dedicated to veterans. 
o    Contact Lucy Del Gaudio, Community Captain Team Red, White, and Blue and other local veteran organization to begin building a relationship.

Additional Resources

·         Veterans Employment Toolkit. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. http://www.va.gov/vetsinworkplace/

·         The Veteran’s Hiring Toolkit. U.S. Department of Labor

·         From uniform to workplace: your next big victory. Why America’s veterans are great hires -Eli Amdur

Thank you to our incredible experts:
  • EliAmdur, Amdur Coaching and Advisor Group, author of weekly Career Coach column for North Jersey Media
  • Ariel Luna, Director of Veterans Services
  • JuliaOrlando, Director of the Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Services Center
  • Gabriel Ramos, Director of Engagement at Headstrong Project
  • Lucy Del Gaudio, Community Captain Team Red, White, and Blue 
  • Brett Cotter, author and founder of Stress is Gone
  • RebeccaMiller Pringle, Keller Williams Town Life Realty 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Congratulations are in order for two of our own

by Cindy Andrake

Recently two inspiring women who are mentored as part of the Bergen Volunteer Center program, Mentoring Moms, accomplished something very special. One graduated college and another received a scholarship to support their future education!

Below are two inspiring stories of moms who want to share with you that you too can accomplish your dreams.

Monique has been matched with her mentor, Faith Samples-Smart, since 2001 and has worked hard as a single mom supporting her children while finishing her GED and, most recently, her Associates degree in Management from Berkeley College. Monique is the very definition of resilience; she keeps moving forward and upward no matter the challenge.  Pictured below is Monique with her son on the day of her graduation.  Well done and way to go Monique! We’re proud of you.

In May, Linda Kase’s mentee, Chiharu, received a scholarship from the ZONTA Club of Northern Valley. Chiharu, a single mom who is raising two teenage sons, is currently attending Bergen Community College with the hopes of finishing her degree at Ramapo. When Chiharu received notice she won the scholarship, she was allowed to bring one special guest with her to the acceptance dinner.  Who did she invite?  Her mentor, Linda Kase!  At the dinner, Chiharu gave an inspiring acceptance speech to the club members. Linda sent in the following picture from the dinner with the following note, “Thank you for introducing Chiharu and me, it is an ongoing success, enriching both our lives.”

To learn more about the Mentoring Moms program visit us online at bergenvolunteers.org or call Cindy Andrake at 201-489-9454.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Hearts of Bergen- Scott

Meet Scott,
Scott volunteers at about 16 different organizations. Some of the places he volunteers at are Center for Hope and Safety, Bergen Family Center, Bergen Volunteer Center and Center for Food Action. To him volunteering is about making someone else’s life better. He says that “you get as much back or more of what they you give” when you help others. Also, it was a great way for him to meet new friends.
Since High school he has been volunteering since his whole family was involved with charities and non profits. Scott’s mom and grandmother were a great example for him because they seemed to feel volunteering was worthy and they enjoy it. His favorite part about helping out was how good it made him feel.
20 different groups have honored Scott. He was Hometown hero by Bergen Health and Life magazine. Russberrie gave him an overall volunteering work award and a national recognition he has received was point of light.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hearts of Bergen- Marlene

Meet Marlene,
AKA “Brief Babe”, starter of The Adult Care Brief Bank right here in Bergen County. Not only was Marlene a part of Bergen LEADS but four years ago she decided to start The Adult Care Brief Bank. This idea began when her aunt became incontinent and there were no agencies to help low income seniors to afford products needed.
Her everyday job consists of collecting items to give to Meals on Wheels of North Jersey who then distributes these items to low income seniors. She has collected over 90,000 products so far. When asked how volunteering and starting this great company made her feel she replied with “fabulous!” She also said that this project means everything to her and the best part was the thank you notes she received.

Friday, May 20, 2016

For My Mother

By Lynne Algrant

“To My Mother: Who once found me daydreaming in the middle of the kitchen floor and mopped around me.” 
                                                               -Toni Cade Bambara

Each year at the Mentoring Moms Celebration brunch in May, I think of this wonderful book dedication.  The notion of supporting someone’s dreams is so powerful and so delightful.

When you walk into a room of Mentors and Moms you are surrounded by people who support others’ dreams.  At this year’s celebration, we cheered for a Mom who recently graduated from Berkeley College and another Mom who won a scholarship at Ramapo College for her academic achievement.  These women are changing their lives through education and they are cheered on by Mentors, other Moms and Staff—a whole community that supports their dreams.

Additionally, all of the moms attending the event went home with a bagful of household toiletries donated by the Eastern Bergen County Board of Realtors.

The Mentoring Moms Program has launched a new initiative—the Chat N Chew.  Facilitated by motivational speaker and author, Faith Saunders and co-facilitated by Tracey, one of our Moms, Chat N Chew is an opportunity for Moms to serve as a peer support to each other.  They are paying forward the support and guidance they have been given by Mentors.

Helping women to provide a safe and stable home for their families is the mission of Mentoring Moms.  Here at the Bergen Volunteer Center, we are so proud and honored to help mentors turn their caring into meaningful action. And now, we are facilitating the chain reaction where those who have been mentored are supporting each other. 

Learn more about the Mentoring Moms program by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Bergen Volunteer Center and its community partners support our local veterans

We are so excited about the success of our first Veterans Resource Fair, held on April 20th.  The collection focused on spring/summer supplies and clothing needed to help out the needy and homeless veterans of Bergen County. 

This project was a partnership with the Bergen County Bureau of Veterans Affairs and Ashley Crawley, high school student and candidate for the Girl Scout’s most prestigious honor, the Gold Award.  Volunteers from BCB Bank, Suez, Five Star Premier Residence, Backpacks for Life, and Atlantic Stewardship Bank were also on hand to sort items, serve food, offer financial literacy lessons and provide “personal shopping” for each of the veterans in attendance.

“It was a heartwarming experience spending time with the Veterans who attended the Bergen Volunteer Center Veteran's Resource Fair,” said Paul Van Ostenbridge, President and CEO of Atlantic Stewardship Bank.  “I had the opportunity to assist one of my new friends in preparing for a job interview and it left us both feeling extremely positive.  Another Veteran shared with me that he was in Vietnam and when he returned to the states, there were no programs like this one.  He was sincerely grateful for the care and friendliness shown during his visit to the Resource Fair.”

Individuals, families, civic groups, faith-based organizations, our non-profit partners and our corporate neighbors supported the event through donations of much needed toiletries, new clothing, and gift cards. 

“This event was an uplifting opportunity for volunteers to give back to people who have served our country.  We look forward to hosting this event in the future.  Working together, we know we can accomplish so much for these deserving men and women who have supported our country,” remarks Debbie Emery, Director of Community Engagement for the Bergen Volunteer Center.

A very special thank you to our sponsors of the Veteran’s Fair:  BCB Bank, Five Star Premier Residence, and the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Bergen Volunteer Center bridges partnership between Microsoft and the Korean American community

The Bergen Volunteer Center brought together two if its valued corporate and nonprofit partners, the Microsoft Store of Wayne and Asian Women’s Christian Association of Teaneck (AWCA), to launch free computer literacy classes for Korean American seniors.  The fifteen-week long program, which began in March at AWCA, is aimed at educating Korean American seniors to become proficient in basic computer skills such as email, internet, and social medial. 

“Being comfortable with technology is so important at any age, but for seniors it is vital to keeping them connected to loved ones, active and engaged.  We have been honored to facilitate this exciting partnership between AWCA and Microsoft” says Lynne Algrant, Bergen Volunteer Center CEO.

The Bergen Volunteer Center is proud to sustain robust county-wide and multi-sector relationships and is passionate about sharing those relationships with anyone to build a better community.  For more information on how you can turn your caring into meaningful action, please visit www.bergenvolunteers.org.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Scholarship Offered for Bergen LEADS

The Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce (MRC), a leading business service organization in the South Bergen area, is offering scholarships to Chamber members who are selected to participate in Bergen LEADS, an innovative, 10-month learning and leadership program for adults who live or work in Bergen County.

Men and women from the private sector, nonprofit agencies and government organizations, as well as community volunteers, are encouraged to submit an application form, available at www.bergenleads.org. Tuition for the program is $2,000; the Meadowlands Chamber will offer $500 scholarships for up to four of its members who are accepted into the Class of 2017. MRCC members are invited to contact the Chamber at 201-939-0707 for more information about the scholarship opportunity.

“In order to grow a strong economy in the greater Meadowlands of Bergen County, we will need dedicated and strong leaders,” says Jim Kirkos, CEO of the Meadowlands Chamber. “The Bergen LEADS program is the perfect incubator to identify those leaders and the program is a natural extension of our advocacy.”

Bergen LEADS is a program of Bergen Volunteer Center, which has successfully engaged Bergen County residents in civic life for 50 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.

“We’re seeking individuals from all ethnic, racial and socio-economic backgrounds who espouse different political, religious and social views,” says Mr. Schuber. “In short, we want our class to represent and celebrate the rich diversity of Bergen County.”

Participants will be selected on the basis of demonstrated interest in the community, achievement in their professions and/or volunteer activities, and potential for responsible and effective leadership. Applications for the Class of 2017 are available at www.bergenleads.org and are due on April 10, 2016. For questions about the application, contact Beanne DeGuzman at bdeguzman@bergenvolunteers.org or 201-489-9454 ext. 203.

Funding for Bergen LEADS is provided by participant tuition plus generous contributions from individuals and area corporations and foundations.

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