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.

·         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 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.