Friday, November 16, 2018

Corporate Day of Service; SAMSUNG Gives at Lorimer Nature Center

Franklin Lakes, New Jersey – New Jersey’s Audubon’s Lorrimer Nature Center was a host site for Samsung’s 8th Day of Service on Friday October 12th, a national program where 4,000 employees across the U.S. are given the day off to make a difference in their communities. Coordinated through the Bergen Volunteer Center, over 20 employees from Samsung Electronics America’s NJ office helped ensure that trails stay safe and are accessible to handicap visitors. Volunteers shouldered shovels and rakes; hauled, dumped and spread over 21 tons of trail stone, driveway stone, and wood chips making areas of the sanctuary safer for children and adults. Samsung volunteers are helping to ensure that all visitors, regardless of abilities, can enjoy the nature trails and participate in classes, tours, and events.

The work Samsung volunteers completed was monumental in impacting the Lorrimer’s Center capacity of serving those with impairments, disabilities, and handicaps. Carol Diveny, the Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations of New Jersey Audubon was ecstatic to have Samsung volunteers spend their day at Lorrimer Nature Center. Diveny stated that, “This was all completed in one day--work that would have taken our nature center staff about 3 months to tackle. Thank you Samsung. You are Awesome!”

Interested in having your own corporate day of service? Contact Maureen Cameron at the Bergen Volunteer Center. 201-489-9454 ext. 204 or

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

ALL Wrapped Up Holiday Giving Program of the Bergen Volunteer Center

“Year after year, the generosity of Bergen County residents is a wonder to behold. All Wrapped Up brings holiday cheer to those who might otherwise feel left out of the joys of the season. Join us in making our own holidays brighter, by sharing the spirit with our neighbors in need,” says Lynne Algrant, Bergen Volunteer Center CEO.

In 2017, 708 families and 1,078 individuals, referred by 28 area non-profit agencies, were "adopted.” Nearly 750 donors from the community responded with contributions of gifts, gift certificates, toys, clothing and household items, totalling more than $276,000.  

The Bergen Volunteer Center seeks participation in its annual All Wrapped Up Holiday Giving Program. Individuals, families, corporations, co-workers, civic and religious groups can be matched through All Wrapped Up to children and families in need, troubled youth, lonely seniors and disabled adults, who otherwise might miss out on the joy of the holiday season.  

Participants can choose to Adopt-a-Family, which can range in size from two to seven people.  Donors will be matched with one of the 700 families for whom agencies request assistance.  The family profile includes genders, ages, sizes and specific gift requests that could include clothes, toys, gift certificates or household items. Donors should plan to spend about $50 per family member.

Participants, who would like to focus on one person in need, will be matched with an individual through the Heart-to-Heart program. Agencies request assistance for 1,000 seniors, or disabled adults, who live alone. Donors provide supermarket gift certificates, clothing and gifts and should plan to spend approximately $50.

To participate in the program, visit the Volunteer Center’s website at, click on the tab for All Wrapped Up to complete an application form and/or contact Debbie Emery at (201) 489-9454 Ext. 202 or email

Friday, October 5, 2018

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

For many, home is a place of love, warmth, and comfort. It’s somewhere that you know you will be surrounded by care and support, and a nice little break from the busyness of the real world. But for millions of others, home is anything but a sanctuary. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner every year. 

Did you know?       
  • Every 12 seconds a woman in the U.S. is beaten
  • Children from violent homes suffer emotional and often physical abuse
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 5 men will experience domestic violence during their lifetime
  • Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to exhibit behavioral and physical health problems.

This month, and throughout the year, remember that you can make a difference.
Domestic Violence – It is YOUR BUSINESS and OURS!

Bergen County will be holding several events to not only raise funds to end the cycle of domestic abuse but also to highlight the problem.

Fifth Annual Vigil and “Pathway to Sufficiency” Brick Dedication Wednesday, October 4 at 6:00 pm, Van Saun County Park – Lot #4, Paramus

 Purple Purse Challenge
The Allstate Foundation
(October 2- 28) Walk Together Against Domestic Violence Saturday, October 14 at 10 am ,Van Saun County Park 

The ART of Survival   Baring Our Soles  exhibit at Bergen County Libraries during the month of October.** This is an art program within Center for Hope and Safety (CHS).

 The ART of Survival Exhibit and Reception, October 9, 6 – 7:30 pm at the Art School Gallery at Old Church ,561 Piermont Road, Demarest

Here at the Bergen Volunteer Center, we try to disrupt the cycle of domestic violence through our Mentoring Moms and Mentoring Youth programs. For additional information, contact Kimberly Malone at and/or 201-489-9454 x213.

To read about the signs of an abusive relationship, click on article:

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Bergen Volunteer Center’s Redefining Retirement Program Begins a New Season

Currently, Redefining Retirement is working with the five Bergen County “Age Friendly” Communities— Englewood, Garfield, Ridgewood, Teaneck, and Westwood — plus Hackensack, leading once-a-month informal Information Sessions in those towns.

2018 Information Sessions are currently scheduled as follows:
·         Englewood Library, Tuesdays 1:00 – 3:00:  October 9, November 13, December 11       
·         Garfield Library, Mondays 11:00 – 1:00: October 1, November 5, December 3  
Hackensack--Johnson Public Library, Wednesdays 12:00 – 2:00: October 3, November 7, December
·         Ridgewood Parks and Recreation Department, 10:00 – 12:00:  Tuesday October 9, Wednesday November 7, Monday, December 10  
·         Teaneck Library, Tuesdays 11:00 – 1:00:  October 2, November 6, December 4  
·         Westwood Community Center, Thursdays 9:00 – 11:00:  October 4, November 1, December 6

 “One of our overarching goals is to help Bergen County as a community understand the asset and valuable resource older adults are and will continue to be as our society ages chronologically, but not necessarily mentally or physically,” says Louisa Hellegers, who leads the Redefining Retirement program.

Since the launch of Redefining Retirement a year ago, over 50 volunteers have been matched with volunteer roles. Volunteers have been placed at Meals on Wheels North Jersey; Bergen Family Center, Englewood Community Chest, Holy Name Hospital, Flat Rock Brook Nature Center, Ridgewood Historical Society/Schoolhouse Museum, Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization, and Garfield YMCA, to name a few. 

For more information, contact Louisa Hellegers, Manager of Redefining Retirement, at or call 201-489-9454, x205.

Monday, September 24, 2018


Every summer for the past 8 years the Parisian Beauty Academy, a Paul Mitchell Partner School in Hackensack, has invited the Mentoring Moms families of the Bergen Volunteer Center to their state of the art salon for a private event.  This annual event is a family favorite for mothers who often struggle to make ends meet and can’t afford routine haircuts in a professional salon. The cosmetology students, instructors and staff at Parisian offer free haircuts so that every mom and child who attends the event leaves the salon with an attractive haircut and a smile on his/her face.

Thank you to the staff of Parisian Beauty Academy for your continued commitment to help others in the community. Through your benevolent act, you have also increased the self - confidence of others.  Amelia Earhart noted, "A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees."  New trees are springing up in schools and homes because you gave.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Local Residents Join New Class of Bergen LEADS

Bergen LEADS, the County’s first and only civic leadership program, will begin its seminar year on September 17.  The program, sponsored by the Bergen Volunteer Center, prepares leaders to tackle the tough challenges facing Bergen County today and in the future. 

            The class, which was chosen though a competitive process in early 2018, will meet monthly to dissect issues, debate viewpoints and develop approaches to community problems.  Under the guidance of former Bergen County Executive William “Pat” Schuber, Bergen LEADS Seminar Director, participants are immersed in a stimulating curriculum that not only introduces them to topical issues of local importance, but also enables them to explore their leadership styles, enhance their leadership capacity and become meaningfully engaged in helping to solve some of the challenges facing Bergen County.

 “We are thrilled with the level of commitment and energy that this new class demonstrates.  A critical component of Bergen LEADS is developing in participants a sense of responsibility for the community,” says Lynne Algrant, Bergen LEADS Director.  “We’re eager to see what this class will accomplish.  Will they champion a cause?  Run for office? Launch a social enterprise venture?  Lead a community organization?  The sky’s the limit.”

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

The members of the Class of 2019 are:

Mahwah  resident Kerry Barrett of Pony Power Therapies; Boiling Springs Savings Bank’s Gerard Beaman of Bloomfield, Stephanie LiCausi of Woodland Park, Joanne Lopez of Roselle, and Linda Pesch of Dumont; Westwood resident Lisa Bontemps of Westwood for All Ages; Woodcliff Lake residents Michael Casale of Orange and Rockland Utilities and Jill Strassberg; Hackensack residents Victor Brown of Bergen Community College, Zonie LaSane of County of Bergen;  Closter resident Dahlia Cooper of Girl Scouts of Northern NJ; Paterson resident Lucinda Council of Merrill Lynch in Paramus; Bergenfield resident Danielle De Laurentis of The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation ; HoHoKus resident James Delia of Wells, Jaworski, and Liebman, LLP; Fair Lawn resident Leslie Felner of the Bergen County Care Fair; Teaneck residents Inez Johnson of GPS Empowerment,  Rayshawna Fraser of GLAAM, Inc., and Natalie Robinson of Pearson; Oradell resident Kathleen Keating of McCarter & English, LLP; Ramsey resident Dorothy Kalksma of Konica Minolta; Clifton resident Eugene Liauw of GYMGUYS in New Milford; North Haledon resident Jennifer Luberto-Stuber of Riverdell Regional High school in Oradell; Ringwood resident Maria Mansfield of Hackensack Merdian, John Theurer Cancer Center in Hackensack; Montville resident Nicole McDonough of Archer & Greiner in Hackensack; Pompton Plains resident Sandie Pardey of NJM Insurance Group in Parsippany; Newark resident Keith Parham of United Energy Advisors; Tamiment, PA resident Rainer Solano of Right at Home in Oradell; Emerson resident Nicholas Tseng of PSEG; and Rochelle Park resident Valerie Vladyka of Schenck Prices Smith & King, LLC.

Bergen LEADS seeks individuals from all ethnic, racial and socio-economic backgrounds who espouse different political, religious and social views for future classes.  Visit  for more information. Applications for the next Bergen LEADS class will be accepted January 1 to April 10, 2019.

The Bergen Volunteer Center turns caring into meaningful action by connecting people to volunteer opportunities.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

SUCCESSFUL AGING How Not to Fall into Fall – Standing Tall Against Falls

Fall which begins on Saturday, September 22, 2018 is a favorite time of year for many people. The leaves begin to display their beautiful colors, we take longer walks as the evenings become cooler and families and friends gather to celebrate various holidays. September 22, 2018 is also significant because it is the first day of, National Fall Prevention Awareness Week. This is a time to raise awareness and discuss preventative measures about ‘falls’ which is one of the biggest threat to our senior adults and family members. According to the CDC, an elderly person dies every 20 minutes due to a fall. Alarming!

  • One in 3 adults fall each year. 
  • Falls are the most common cause of hospital admission for trauma. 
  • Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among older adults. 

Listed below are some things that may help to reduce your risk of falling:

  • Exercise : Engage in regular physical activity, especially balance and strength building. 
  • Medication: Ask your doctor if your medication increases your risk of falling. 
  • Vision: Have regular examinations. 
  • Technology : Alarms, Stair lifts (
  • Home Safety: Identify and correct falling, slipping or tripping hazards. 

The CHORE program at the BERGEN VOLUNTEER CENTER can also play a critical role in the improvement of your loved one’s safety in the home. The CHORE volunteers ensure that senior citizens and the disabled remain independent and safe in their homes with a reduced risk of falling by installing grab bars and railings. All CHORE labor is performed for free by BVC volunteers; clients only cover the cost of materials.

Stand Tall Against Fall as you explore and enjoy the bounties, splendor and celebrations of Fall!

Friday, September 7, 2018


CHEER is Bergen Volunteer Center’s newest program and is funded by a grant from the Bergen County Department of Human Services as well as from community corporations, private foundations, and individual donors.

CHEER provides a helping hand to isolated and frail seniors of Bergen County which allows them to retain their independence. Trained CHEER aides and volunteers conduct weekly visits to assist with shopping, errands, laundry, and light housekeeping. Aids and volunteers often develop lasting relationships with these seniors as they offer companionship and, whenever possible, create opportunities for them to be engaged in their communities.

CHEER has had the privilege of partnering with a number of Schools for those with Autism in Bergen County. These partnerships have been beneficial not only to our clients (the seniors) but also to the students. The students practice skills that, when integrated, increase their ability to live independent lives while being effective contributing members of society.  These student volunteers may be at different points on the Autistic Spectrum but the over- arching goal of this partnership for the students is progress towards independence, productivity, integration and self-sufficiency.

Samantha M., a student at Alpine Learning Group Inc. has been a CHEER volunteer for the last two years.  Her behavior specialist has reported that during that time Samantha has made progress and improved her skill set  in many areas and is now able to :

  • Navigate the aisles in a supermarket independently
  • Identify and select items from a given list
  • Categorize and arrange fragile/non fragile items
  • Engage clients in conversation
  • Establish a routine with her clients

This is a win-win situation because not only are the client’s needs met but Samantha’s social and communication skills are improving and she is also able to transfer skills from one client/situation to the next. As stated by Cortney Debiase, teacher/behavior specialist of ALG Inc., “ She ( Samantha) has built a wonderful relationship with her client and upon entering the home, they both light up and greet each other. It has been a wonderful pairing and Samantha looks forward to going shopping and seeing her clients”.

The CHEER program continues to provide on-going opportunities for the students to learn and/or continue to develop valuable new skills. To get more information about the CHEER program, contact Michele Ogden at 201-489-9454 x 203 and /or

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


MEET: Elma Chowdhury

In a few weeks, I will be packing up my life – putting away my clothes, my pictures, my home, in storage boxes and driving down to Baltimore for college. I will begin my freshman year of college at Johns Hopkins University – my dream college ever since I was in third grade. As I prepare for the next chapter of my life, I find myself reflecting on the past four years of my life, my time in high school and everything I did to get to this point. My family will be quick to remind me that admittance into my dream college is due to my own perspiration, however, I know that luck had a hand in this as well.

It was luck that Debbie Emery, Director of Community Volunteer Services, introduced me to the prevailing issue of homelessness in Bergen County. Her influence sparked my interest in studying homelessness and imagining programs to ameliorate the issue. It was luck that Debbie, then, took me under her wing and introduced me to her Bergen Volunteer Center family. My internship with the BVC was, honestly, the springboard that allowed me to jump into my future. Through my internship, I learned so much about my community – everything from its people to its organizations – and created so many meaningful connections.

As a BVC intern, I had the opportunity to develop and practice many important skills, such as humility, patience and communication. There were times when distressed Bergen County residents would climb up the BVC stairs, asking for help. I would listen to them, along with Debbie and the ladies up front, and direct them to the appropriate program to receive help. I also remember visiting the Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Services Center. It was humbling to witness the beds and the rooms kept for homeless individuals. Through these interactions, the BVC expanded my understanding of the human condition.

Debbie had put me in touch with the Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative, a non-profit clinic. This was another force of luck; I began to intern at BVMI from the summer of 2017 and throughout my senior year of high-school. Through the clinic, I was able to explore access to healthcare for the underserved population, another issue I am interested in. All of these together shaped my desire to study Public Health and bring a positive change in my community.

Elma, we at BVC cannot wait to see the positive impact and influence that you will have in making our world a better place.  KEEP ON SOARING HIGH!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Redefining Retirement Program Announces Fall Information Session Schedule!

Bergen Volunteer Center’s Redefining Retirement program matches retirees with nonprofits and community organizations that need support in a wide variety of specific, skills-based volunteer roles.

Currently, Redefining Retirement is working with Bergen’s “Age Friendly” Communities— Englewood, Garfield, Ridgewood, Teaneck, and Westwood — plus Hackensack, hosting once-a-month informal sessions.  Volunteer “Matchmakers” are at these sessions to interview applicants and discuss their interests and experiences so that they can connect you with identified volunteer opportunities.

2018 Information Sessions are currently scheduled as follows:

  • Englewood Library, 1:00 – 3:00: September 11, October 9, November 13, December 11       
  • Garfield Library, 11:00 – 1:00: September 10, October 1, November 5, December 3  
  • Hackensack--Johnson Public Library, 12:00 – 2:00: September 5, October 3, November 7, December 5   
  • Ridgewood Parks and Recreation Department, 10:00 – 12:00: September 5, October 9, November 7,  December 10  
  • Teaneck Library, 11:00 – 1:00: September 4, October 2, November 6, December 4  
  • Westwood Community Center, 9:00 – 11:00: September 6, October 4, November 1, December 6 

Since the launch of Redefining Retirement a year ago, over 50 volunteers have been matched with volunteer roles. Volunteers have been placed at Meals on Wheels North Jersey; Bergen Family Center, Englewood Community Chest, Holy Name Hospital, Flat Rock Brook Nature Center, Ridgewood Historical Society/Schoolhouse Museum, Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization, and Garfield YMCA, to name a few. 

“One of our overarching goals is to help Bergen County as a community understand the asset and valuable resource older adults are and will continue to be as our society ages chronologically, but not necessarily mentally or physically,” says Louisa Hellegers, who leads the Redefining Retirement program. She goes on to say, “It is a rewarding experience for everyone to see how the partnership between a retired volunteer and a nonprofit enables caring to be turned into meaningful action.”

For information about the Redefining Retirement program and the scope of the Bergen Volunteer Center programs and volunteer opportunities, visit our website at   To reach Louisa Hellegers, Manager of Redefining Retirement, email at or call 201-489-9454, x205.