Wednesday, July 5, 2017


“Volunteering is so pervasive it’s invisible. We take for granted all the things that have been pioneered by concerned, active volunteers.”
—Susan J. Ellis, Energize, Inc. and

These words are so true of Bergen County. Volunteerism and civic involvement are so much a part of the air we breathe that we don’t always call it by its name. Here are a few of the encounters I have had with volunteers in the last couple of weeks:

The Bergen Campership Fund is a public/private partnership that raises money to help low-income children go to summer camp. The Fund was founded over 20 years ago and has been managed by dedicated volunteers for all those years. Sitting with them reading applications and allocating scholarships was both solemn and uplifting. For them, knowing that children they will never meet are having a happy, healthy, summer is worth the hours of meetings each year.

The house across the street from me was bought and torn down in a matter of weeks. In one afternoon, all the old trees on the property were chopped down—a shocking and devastating transformation of the neighborhood. Within hours, I discovered the Shade Tree Association and other activists in town. They have organized a tougher tree ordinance and mobilized residents all over town to support it.

My colleague is organizing a career workshop for adolescents in our Mentoring Youth program. Everyone she has asked to serve on a panel has said yes and named others she should invite. The enthusiasm to share and guide young people is exhilarating.

As I drive throughout Bergen County, I am now greeted with warm green signs declaring the town “Stigma Free.” In fact, 51 communities have declared themselves Stigma Free and are actively working to encourage mental health awareness and wellness. The Stigma Free movement is entirely volunteer-led and it is transforming our community for the better.

Muhammad Ali said that “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

One of the reasons Bergen County is such an abundant community is because so many pay their rent every day in so many ways.

The Bergen Volunteer Center is proud to make volunteerism in our community highly visible and to help turn all that caring into meaningful action.

Lynne H. Algrant

No comments: