Friday, November 8, 2019

Bergen Volunteers CHORE program featured on CNN Vital Signs

At the beginning of October, we invited members of the CNN International show Vital Signs to shadow our CHORE volunteers for a typical day out in the community. Vital Signs is a monthly half-hour health and wellness feature program hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

The CNN show Vital Signs reached out to us for an upcoming episode looking at what it means to age in 2019, specifically the concept of “aging in place.” They were intrigued by the CHORE program when they heard most of our volunteers are also seniors (53 of our 55 volunteers). 

The CHORE program was started back in 1977, as a response to the Older American’s Act of 1965. For over 40 years we have been performing minor household repairs for residents of Bergen County who are elderly and disabled. Each week we send out three vans with crews of volunteer handy people to about 50 homes in the community where they install grab bars and railings, change light bulbs, and perform simple plumbing and electrical repairs.

Monday through Friday the CHORE crews meet in our parking lot at 8:30 in the morning. Each crew grabs their storage clipboards from the office that has their jobs for the day, as well as any specific supplies they might need, and then they head out in their vans to visit about three or four homes. 

The CNN crew jumped into the CHORE van and followed our volunteers, Ed Morandi, Pete Tilgner, and John Pastore through their day. Our volunteers have backgrounds as complex as the projects they take on each week. For example, Ed has been volunteering for CHORE for the last 14 years, ever since he retired from owning a commercial printer. The crews learn from one another and develop a team. The camaraderie of the crews is a compelling aspect of the CHORE volunteer experience. 

On that particular day, the crew first set off to Ruby’s home where they removed air conditioners and added weather stripping to her back door. They then went to Camilla’s house where they replaced a showerhead and fixed a toilet. Finally, they added grab bars at Eric’s home. 

Throughout the day we heard from each of the clients how much they appreciated how CHORE enabled them to stay in their homes and take on projects that were too heavy or overwhelming to take on themselves. 

Demand for the CHORE service is so high that visits are often scheduled at least a month out. Clients pay only for the materials that are used. Grants from the Division of Senior Services of Bergen County, and by individual donors enables us to maintain our vans, coordinate all of the scheduling, and order bulk supplies so that we’re able to offer the labor free of charge to our clients. 

We’re so grateful that our hardworking volunteers had the chance to show others all they do to help members of the community stay safe in their homes, that our CHORE clients had an opportunity to express their gratitude for this service, and that so many others can see the good work that happens through the CHORE program.

Be sure to check out the whole Vital Signs episode when it airs on CNN International this coming week:

  • Saturday, November 9: 7:30am, 8:30pm
  • Sunday, November 10: 1:30pm, 2:30pm
  • Wednesday, November 13: 12:30pm
  • Saturday, November 16: 2:30pm
  • Sunday, November 17: 7:30pm

Here is where you can find CNN International: 
  • DirecTV - Channel 358
  • CNNgo App - Apple TV, iOS, Roku
  • Cable: Verizon FiOS - Channel 105
  • Satellite TV:  Orby TV - Channel 307
  • IPTV: AT&T U-verse/CenturyLink - Channel 205

For a full listing of when the show will air or to see the episode online after November 11th check out the Vital Signs webpage.

To learn more about how you can help support the CHORE program to reach even more members of the community reach out to us.

To donate to the CHORE program click here.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


On Tuesday, October 29th, Bergen Volunteers held its annual Hearts of Gold Dinner and Auction. Throughout the event, we highlighted the success of one of some of our programs such as All Wrapped Up, Redefining Retirement and CHORE. We also honored individuals and companies that have contributed to the success of these programs by voluntarily giving of their time and resources. Among our 2020 honorees was Cole Schotz and the acceptance speech (below) given by Lori Wolf spoke to the heart of what we do; turning caring into meaningful action to improve lives and strengthen the community.

“Cole Schotz takes great pride in helping with the All Wrapped Up Program.  This amazing program helps make holiday wishes come true for disadvantaged New Jersey individuals and families.  Members of the firm elect to shop for babies, teens, disabled individuals, veterans and families.  We receive wish lists from Bergen Volunteers so that we know we are getting what they want and need.  It is heartbreaking to see what many of these individuals request.  The typical gift request is not an Iphone or an Xbox. Instead, what we see the most are requests for winter coats, hats, gloves, boots and even underwear and PJs. Pampers for babies and sheets and pots and pans are also frequent requests.  My colleagues and I shop from the list of requested items and then typically add something extra – perfume or cologne, a book, makeup, or a toy in the holiday spirit.  Gift cards for Shop-Rite or Walmart are also commonly included.  We shop in teams and department groups, individually and even with family and friends outside the firm- I can tell you that my kids look forward to participating annually. Since the gifts are collected in my office and one or more offices near me, I can tell you it creates a Santa Claus feeling to see the growing piles of presents and ultimately to load the trucks up for delivery to the agencies. The gifts we provide may be the only gifts these individuals receive.  We are proud to support this worthy cause and bring a smile to someone special at the holiday season.  Speaking both for myself and for many of my colleagues who have expressed similar sentiments to me, participating in this program and shopping for disadvantaged NJ individuals and families may make us as happy as we hope that the recipients are in opening their gifts. To me, this is what the holiday season is all about.” 

To quote the mantra used by our CEO, Lynne Algrant at the event, “When we say we love what we do, we love what we do!”  To give to any of our programs, click here .

Monday, September 9, 2019

Taking a Stand to Prevent Falls in 2019 - Successful Aging

National Fall Prevention Awareness Week is September 23- 29 when the focus is on raising awareness about how to prevent fall related injuries among older adults.  Research indicates that falls are the leading cause of injury related emergency department visits for older adults (65+), the major cause of hip fractures, and responsible for more than half of fatal head injuries.  More than 25% of older adults fall each year.  As a result about 30% of older people who fall lose their self-confidence and start to go out less often. Inactivity can then lead to social isolation, loss of muscle strength and balance thus increasing the risk of falling. The great news, however, is that falls are not an inevitable part of aging and that some can be prevented.
 The National Council on Aging cites the following common factors that can lead to a fall:
  • Balance and gait: As we age, most of us lose some coordination, flexibility, and balance— primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall.
  • Vision: In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina—making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see.
  • Medications: Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.
  • Environment: Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep it safer as they age.
  • Chronic conditions: More than 80% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke, or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain, or multiple medications.
What are some simple prevention measures to take to reduce the risk of falling?

  1. Health conditions - review your health conditions and medication with your doctor.
  2. Physical activity - keep moving by doing gentle activities such as walking, water exercises, tai chi.
  3. Footwear - consider changing your footwear.
  4. Home hazards - secure and/or remove common home hazards such as rugs, phone cords, furniture.
  5. Lighting - light up the living space. Keep areas brightly lit to avoid tripping over hard to see objects.
  6. Assistive devices - install/use assistive devices such as grab bars and stair rails.  (Mayo Clinic)
The CHORE and CHEER programs of  Bergen Volunteers which focus on improving the lives of seniors and successful aging also play a critical role in not only the prevention of falls by installing grab bars and railings ( CHORE) but also in providing assistance through the CHEER program. All CHORE labor is performed for free by a dedicated team of BVC volunteers; clients cover the cost of material. For additional information, visit our website and/or read articles cited.
‘Take a Stand to Prevent Falls’ as you explore and enjoy the bounties, splendor and celebrations of Fall.

For more information click here  and click here and read more!

Thursday, July 25, 2019



Once again the Bergen Volunteer Center has been cited for the awesome work that it does in the county as it continues to improve lives and strengthen the community through its many programs. The article, “Older Workers Reject Retirement for Employment, Volunteering” published on June 27, 2019 in USA Today highlighted one of our programs, Redefining Retirement. Redefining Retirement was established in June 2017 and has since matched over 100 retirees with non- profit organizations in need of their unique skills.

The Bergen Volunteer Center (BVC) was founded in 1966 and one might describe us as the original, ‘” connecting people who want to volunteer to organizations that need volunteers. BVC, a small but highly effective and mighty organization has grown exponentially. BVC created and manages a myriad of programs to meet the needs of our community. Bergen County is both a magical and complex place—it is a wonderful place to grow up and/or raise a family, but it is also a hard place to be isolated, alone or struggling. It is often a “Tale of Two Counties ” and our programs and initiatives mirrors and addresses this dichotomy.

Our direct service programs under the Department of Improving Lives engage volunteers in direct service to mothers and adolescents through mentoring and our Cheer and CHORE programs help senior citizens age in place safely. The other body of work at the Bergen Volunteer Center is our Strengthening Community programs where we teach civic leadership and civic engagement. We help people learn about the county, gain new perspectives and inspire them to get involved. As such, we are developing a pipeline of locally knowledgeable civic leaders, who are passionate about Bergen County. These leaders-- adults, college students and high school students—are using what they have learned from our Bergen LEADs, College LEADS and Teen LEADS to run for office, serve on nonprofit boards and make policies. It is absolutely amazing to see a group of future leaders ( high school students) research current issues (i.e. mental health) that adversely impact their school community and/or County and present their findings and recommendations to their principal, superintendent and members of the board of education.

The Bergen Volunteer Center located at 64 Passaic Street in Hackensack is here to help, serve, elevate and educate and as we continue our mission of ‘improving lives’ and ‘ strengthening community’. With your support, we will continue to make a difference in your neighborhood, your town and our County as we turn caring into meaningful action. Check us out and spread the word!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Lifesaving Initiative Coming to Englewood

An exciting, new lifesaving initiative called United Rescue is coming to Englewood this fall!  United Rescue is a nonprofit organization that provides free, pre-ambulance emergency medical care through a network of trained and equipped volunteers, enabled by GPS technology.  United Rescue is currently recruiting volunteers from across the Englewood community for its inaugural training class kicking off in September 2019.

In a medical emergency, every second counts — and in many situations, help could literally be next door.  United Rescue's community-based emergency care model solves this problem, by using technology integrated with the 911 dispatch system to alert its trained and equipped volunteers in close proximity to the scene of a medical emergency.  United Rescue volunteers are able to respond immediately when a 911 call comes in and provide lifesaving care before the ambulance arrives.

If you are a U.S. citizen over the age of 18 and live or work in Englewood, you are eligible to apply to become a United Rescue volunteer.  There's no cost to participate, and you'll be trained and equipped to save the lives of your neighbors, coworkers, family, and friends in the event of a medical emergency.  Applicants must pass a background check and will be interviewed by Englewood Health EMS staff.

If you'd like to apply to volunteer, refer a candidate, or have any questions, please contact Molly Leader ( and Rick Sposa (, Director of EMS for Englewood Health. 


Visit United Rescue's website to learn more and to download the application: www.UnitedRescue.US

Read about United Rescue's success in Jersey City in City Journal:

Watch a short, inspiring video about a life saved by a United Rescue volunteer in Jersey City: 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Volunteer Spotlight - Erik Renn

Erik Renn is a 19 year old full-time college student from Fair Lawn who has been impacting the lives of many in and around his community and Bergen County as a volunteer for several years. Mahatma Gandhi once sated, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” and Erik has been modeling and living this since age sixteen.   

At age 16, he joined the Fair Lawn Fire Department as a junior member. Erik approaches all that he does with a spirit of excellence and, as such, attended and graduated the fire department academy (which is no easy feat). He is now is a full- fledged member of the department.  With all of his responsibilities, Erik still makes time to volunteer with two organizations; Fair Lawn Police Explorer and the Making-It-Home program of the Bergen Volunteer Center (BVC).

The Fair Lawn Police Explorer program introduces high school and college age individuals to police work and allows them to work alongside officers on certain assignments.

We at the Bergen Volunteer Center had the distinctive pleasure in November 2018 of adding Erik to our team of dedicated and skilled volunteers who daily ‘turn caring into meaningful action. No job is too small or too large for him as he assists the Making-It-Home volunteers in retrieving, storing and delivering gently-used furniture to formerly homeless persons, veterans, victims of domestic abuse, seniors and/ or individuals with disabilities in Bergen County.
In keeping with his work ethics, not only has he already amassed 100 hours with BVC but he has also garnered the respect and gratitude of both clients and staff. The annual Celebrate Volunteers event where agencies and other non- profit organizations acknowledge and celebrate exemplary volunteers was held on April 11th at Bergen Community College and Erik Renn was introduced to the world. Is there any wonder that Erik Renn was honored at this event? Congratulations and thank you for giving!  We wish you continued success in all of your academic and professional endeavors.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


This year was the third year that the Bergen Volunteer Center participated in Volunteers In Tax Assistance (VITA) program which is a free income tax preparation service designed to assist individuals and families. Tax clients, residing in Bergen County, that met the criteria for specific anti-poverty tax breaks, included the disabled, retired, elderly, and people who support dependents who are in college. This year, with the help of thirty (30) trained volunteers, more returns were filed than ever before. To accommodate the families, the volunteers working on weekends and some nights logged 1076 hours to complete all of the returns.  

A total of 177 federal tax returns were completed, averaging $1,480 refund per household. 184 state returns were filed for residents of the states of NY, NJ, AZ, CT, MA, and VA, averaging a $1,294 refund. In total, VITA clients received $314,000 in tax returns and were saved $45,000 in tax preparation services.  Incredibly amazing!

Both the clients and the volunteers felt incredibly rewarded and truly the success of the program underscores what research shows that volunteering is a two way street. “Volunteering can expand your horizons and utilize existing skill sets, while also giving you the opportunity to develop new ones. One of the most rewarding is the contact with the individuals you connect with while serving. As a volunteer, you can directly see the benefits that your work produces, whether you’re a mentor, helper or everyday participant. Seeing your actions make a positive difference for others is a strong motivator to continue serving”.

The youngest of the volunteers, Jordan and Jacob, are juniors at Mahwah High School and this was their first volunteer experience. They have both expressed how rewarding being a VITA volunteer is and they are excited to participate again next year. Research states that volunteering can improve/enhance current skills and one student indicated that his communication skills had improved during this process.

Bergen Volunteer Center’s, Debbie Emery who along with other BVC staff members managed this year’s VITA program  expressed the sentiments of all when she said, “it was a privilege to work with such dedicated and compassionate volunteers; I am so impressed with their care and concern for the clients’ well-being.”  The transformative power of giving- join the movement!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

April is volunteer month: Tips to get you started!

Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community. The benefits, however, can be even greater for you, the volunteer. Volunteering and helping others can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. Volunteering also provides a platform for you to share your skills and area of expertise to the benefit of organizations. Click here to see an example  Giving in even simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness.

You are donating your valuable time, so it’s important that you enjoy and benefit from your volunteering. The best way to volunteer is to find a match with your personality and interest. To make sure that your volunteer position is a good fit, research suggests that you  ask yourself if there is something specific that you want to do such as 
  • to improve the neighborhood where I live
  • to meet people who are different than me
  • to try something new
  • to do something with my spare time
  • to see a different way of life and new places
  • to have a go at the type of work I might want as a full-time job
  • to do more with my interests and hobbies

After you have identified your area of interest, be sure to engage the organization and or coordinator of your selected program by:-
Asking questions. You want to make sure that the experience is right for your skills, your goals, and the time you want to spend. Sample questions to your volunteer coordinator might address your time commitment, if there’s any training involved, who you will be working with, and what to do if you have questions during your experience.
Making sure you know what’s expected. You should be comfortable with the organization and understand the time commitment. Consider starting small so that you don’t over commit yourself at first. Give yourself some flexibility to change your focus if needed.
Now that you are armed with ALL this information, begin to enjoy the advantages of volunteering by visiting and viewing the hundreds of volunteer opportunities on the database. Sign up, enjoy your assignment and yourself and do not be afraid to make a change!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019


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 that sends 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

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:

· Helps children build a unique interest

· Allows for the development of new skills

· Leads to a new type of friendship building

· Allows for confidence to be reinforced by success

· Helps with mental stimulation and physical activity

In 2018 the Summer Campership Fund helped 40 children have a terrific summer by providing $55,361 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 turning caring into meaningful action.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Status of Cannabis in Bergen  County: Canna-Business? Canna-Bank? Canna-Town?

Hackensack, New Jersey - In 2009, the Bergen Volunteer Center introduced the Fifth Friday series as one of its educational and civic -minded leadership programs that helps Bergen County residents stay informed on topics ripped from the headlines. Fifth Friday is a powerful networking and public policy series that attracts leaders from every sector of Bergen County and gives them the opportunity to hear from high profile speakers and share perspective on topics that affect their daily living and working.

In 2018, more than 500 people attended Fifth Friday forums and joined the conversation about: Women in Leadership, A Look at New Jersey’s Largest Public Hospital, and The Future of Retail Space in Bergen County. The Bergen Volunteer Center is excited about the 2019 series which kicks off on Friday, January 25th at the Stony Hill Inn. 

The topic of discussion will be: The Status of Cannabis in Bergen County and the discussion will be led by a panel of esteemed presenters that includes William Caruso of Archer and Greiner P.C., Sheriff Anthony Cureton, Dianna Houneou, Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, New Jersey Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Scott Rudder, President of the New Jersey Cannabis Association.

The Fifth Friday forums have been extremely successful, due in part to you- the attendee, a host of volunteers and our many generous sponsors. Thank you to Investor’s Bank, Archer and Greiner P.C, PNC Wealth Management and The Record for your sponsorship of the January 25, 2019 event .Sponsorship opportunities are still available! Fifth Friday Forum sponsors receive tremendous value for their investment, including: complimentary tickets; logo inclusion on websites, social media channels, email blasts, print and press releases; and recognition and signage on-site at the event.

Interested in joining us at Fifth Friday or becoming a sponsor? Call Elizabeth Reich at 201-489-9454 ext. 211 or e-mail for more information.

Bergen LEADS  Applications for 2020 Now Available!

Hackensack, New Jersey – A persistent question facing every sector is, “Where will the next generation of ethical, effective leaders come from?” The answer - Bergen LEADS. Bergen LEADS is a program of the Bergen Volunteer Center. The Bergen Volunteer Center strengthens the community by connecting people through service and developing civic leaders. Under the guidance of former Bergen County Executive William Schuber, the LEADS Seminar Director, Bergen LEADS is now in its 12th year.

Bergen LEADS is a 10 month community leadership program for adults who live or work in Bergen County. Interactive, fast paced and experiential, the program is delivered through a series of “Issue Days”, which include discussion with community leaders, site visits, small group interaction and personal reflection. Each class completes a capstone project which provides an opportunity to develop solutions to real issues in Bergen County. Relationships generated from Bergen LEADS transcend the program due to the active alumni that coordinate events and networking opportunities. 

Bergen LEADS applications for the Class of 2020 are now available at and are due by April 12th. Bergen LEADS seeks representation from a broad array of ethnic, racial, religious and socio-economic groups. Lynne Algrant, CEO of Bergen Volunteer Center and Bergen LEADS co-seminar director knows that, “Diversity of participants is essential”. Applicants from business, nonprofit, civic faith-based, and government organizations, as well as from the community at large, are encouraged to apply. Tuition is $2,500 and scholarship assistance is available for those with financial need.

To apply: Contact Melissa LaRobardier at 201-489-9454 x 206 or for additional information.