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 .