Thursday, March 29, 2018


With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer but the benefits, however, are enormous to you, your family, and the individual and/or community. BUT- don’t take my word for it, read what a current mentor in the Mentoring Moms program wrote about her on going experience…

“I am very grateful to Mentoring Moms for creating an ideal match for me and "my mom". Our relationship is evidence that motherhood and sisterhood transcend differences in language and culture. Although we sometimes talk about the challenges of her circumstances, we also celebrate her achievements and I am inspired by her persistence. From our time together I have seen that true character shines through the most difficult situations and in many ways, I want to be like her when I grow up. I have learned how effortless it is to change a person's day by simply seeing an appreciating her as she is in any given moment. This has been a truly rewarding experience, and I recommend being a mentor to anyone with a little love and respect to give.”

Thank you Phillicia for all that you do as one of the mentors at Bergen Volunteer Center and thank you for underscoring the fact that ‘mentoring is a two way street’. To learn more about the effects of mentoring, click on the article below.

It’s a two-way street: Four ways mentoring benefits the mentor

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


I am writing this blog as Debbie Emery, daughter of the recently deceased, 91 year old, Louis Francis. My dad, a man with a large personality and larger heart, passed away on February 12th, widowed just three years earlier. I am also Debbie Emery, Director of Community and Youth Engagement for the Bergen Volunteer Center. You may wonder what one has to do with the other?
Tasked with both honoring and packing up a long and wonderful life, my sister and I had to figure out what to do with all the “things” collected these past 91 years. We knew exactly where to put the years and decades of love and memories. But the “things” all the “things”! There was clothing, paperwork, personal items, treasures and furniture. The one thing we learned from our dad was that there is probably someone or someplace that can benefit from those “things” and try to help someone first before simply getting rid of it all.

Because of my work with the Bergen Volunteer Center, I am aware of community programs that help. And the programs I was able to work closely with were literally under my nose, right here at the Volunteer Center. Mentoring Moms and Mentoring Youth were on my radar and the director was able to identify a young, loving family within the program that needed furniture. Making-It-Home made it possible to consider donating furniture to individuals and families that need it. So when my two worlds collided and knowing in my heart what my dad would have done, that choice was easy. First locate a family that could use the items, and work with the dynamos, Cynthia and Chris of Making-It-Home, to put all the pieces in place. 

So, we found the perfect Mentoring family and Making-It- Home took over. First Class Movers volunteered their truck, their muscle and mostly their hearts to pick up 91 years’ worth of a great life and share a bit of that legacy with a young, loving family in need of just a bit of support and furniture!

The family was overcome with joy and gratitude not only upon being a benefactor of my father’s legacy but also with the interior decorating tips provided by Cynthia.

For more information about Making- It -Home, Mentoring Moms and Mentoring Youth, please contact the Bergen Volunteer Center,, or 201-489-9454.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Bergen County Summer Campership Fund

In 1994, recognizing the need of lower-income families to ensure their children were in a safe, healthy, fun environment in the summer, a few volunteers led by Kay Gellert, with a major boost from the County of Bergen, and the Bergen Volunteer Center, established the Summer Campership Fund. Since 1996 the Summer Campership Fund has been supported by the generosity of individual and corporate donors thus making it possible to continue this invaluable program.

The Bergen County Summer Campership Fund is a scholarship program to send children from lower-income working families to local day camps. Contributions to the fund provide children with life-shaping experiences in a safe and healthy environment. Hundreds of working families in Bergen County are unable to afford summer day camp for their school-age children. As a result, many of these children spend their summer home alone while others are exploring and growing in a productive, healthy, memorable way. Not only does The Summer Campership Fund (SCF) provide day camp scholarships to children (ages 3-12) but, at times, provide other support to said families in emergency and/or crisis situation(s). Case and point, last spring when two young children lost their father, the SCF stepped in and provided scholarships which allowed these children to form memories that will last a lifetime while giving a respite from their grief. 

To apply for a scholarship, log on to

The summer camp experience can give a child an advantage in school and in life. Research shows that camp does the following:
  • Enhances self confidence
  • Helps kids unplug and build friendships
  • Reintroduces kids to nature
  • Fosters teamwork
  • Encourages personal growth
In 2017 the Summer Campership Fund helped 49 children have a terrific summer by providing $58,795 in scholarships. To help send a child to camp, send Tax Deductible Contributions payable to Bergen Volunteer Center – Campership Fund, 64 Passaic Street, Hackensack 07601. Give a child a safe and meaningful summer and be assured that every dollar raised goes directly to pay camp cost. Thank you for giving!