Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Celebrating Older Americans Month

Older Americans Month is a time where we recognize the many contributions of senior citizens throughout their lives. They have gone above and beyond to serve their community as mentors and volunteers. You’ll find no finer display of older Americans using their talent and passion to give back than the volunteers from Redefining Retirement, Bergen Reads, CHORE, and CHEER. Not content to just spend their well-earned retirement relaxing, they give their time freely where they are most needed.

The Redefining Retirement program encourages older adults to utilize their unique skills to strengthen the community. Participants are connected and matched to opportunities with non-profit agencies based on their life experiences and personal interests. In the current environment, many volunteers have found ways to continue to improves the lives of others, even while they are following the guidelines to stay healthy, stay safe and stay home.The Redefining Retirement team is working to be ready for a program comeback,hopefully in the fall. 

Bergen Reads, reading buddies, including retired educators, work one-on-one with students from Kindergarten through 4th grade to improve their reading. Volunteers sit down with students in Teaneck and Hackensack public schools on a weekly basis. They serve as tutors and mentors, and advocate on behalf of the student to make sure they don’t fall behind. With schools being closed due to the global pandemic, they may need to look to expand the scope of their services. Moving lessons from the classroom to the living room has created new challenges, and it is easy for struggling students to fall through the cracks. The team may explore ways to provide virtual services to offer the individual attention that students need to succeed.

CHORE is a service program whose goal is to keep the elderly and disabled safely living in their homes. All of the CHORE participants are retired, with some volunteering well into their 80s! Every week, volunteers perform tasks such as installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fixing leaky faucets, weatherizing doors and windows, minor electrical work, and much more. There is no charge for labor; clients only need to pay for the cost of materials. One of their specialties is installing grab bars and banisters, which cut down on preventable falls and hospitalizations. Beyond providing essential repairs with minimal cost, clients are touched by the kindness of CHORE volunteers. They understand that a little conversation can go a long way to ease social isolation.

Much like CHORE, the CHEER program is aimed at supporting the independence of seniors and people with disabilities. Volunteers provide much needed services such as weekly grocery shopping and prescription medicine pick up. Now that many seniors are being advised to shelter in place, these services are more important than ever. Volunteers form strong connections with their clients through their friendly support and companionship. While they currently cannot offer their company in person, CHEER volunteers have been conducting regular check-in calls. Not only do they try to make sure their clients are feeling well, but they are combating loneliness, one phone call at a time.

We’re always looking for generous seniors who would like to share their talents with the community. If any of these programs interest you, please contact us using the e-mail addresses below to learn how you can get involved: 

For information on Redefining Retirement, contact

 For information on Bergen Reads, contact Melissa LaRobardier at

For information on CHEER or CHORE, contact the Successful Aging Team at

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month. Though 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness in their lifetime, nearly two thirds will never seek treatment. Together we can help end stigma and educate the public on mental health issues. 

You are Not Alone

We are living in a time of unprecedented uncertainty. Unfortunately, isolation, job loss, and other problems that have been exacerbated by the global pandemic are also having a major impact on mental health. Though at times it may be overwhelming, try making time to relax, practice self-care, and reach out to loved ones. If you are struggling, it’s important to know that you are not alone and there is help.

If you or someone you care about is going through a mental health crisis, don’t hesitate to call a mental health hotline:

Bergen Volunteers Cares about Mental Health

Some of the biggest contributing factors to mental health problems are family issues, low self-esteem, and poor physical health. At Bergen Volunteers, we prioritize helping vulnerable populations cope with life’s challenges and supply them with the tools they need to thrive.

Successful Families encompasses mentoring programs for parents and at-risk youth. We are all affected by the things that happen to us on a daily basis, both the negative and the positive. The Mentoring Moms & Dads and Mentoring Youth programs provide access to solid support systems for those that need them. Mentees can build resilience that not only allows them to overcome obstacles, but also makes it easier to handle future challenges.

To learn more about being matched with a mentor, or even becoming one yourself, 
contact Lisa Tredici at

Engaging in volunteer activities not only imparts a sense of belonging, but when you do something you believe is meaningful, you feel empowered. Bergen LEADS, College LEADS, and Teen LEADS are programs that develop leadership skills and self-confidence. By finding new approaches to problem-solving skills, LEADers make a lasting impact in the community and gain valuable tools that they can use in their personal life.

Redefining Retirement utilizes the amazing skills and experiences of our retirees, matching their talents and interests to serve our communities.  Providing networking, collaborative efforts and training to the non-profit community strengthens our community-wide resources and responds to the physical, social, and mental wellness of others. 

To learn more about our Strengthening Community programs, 
contact Debbie Emery at

Seniors are often overlooked when it comes to mental health. According to Aging Care, “In older adults, depression often co-occurs with other serious illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, dementia, Parkinson's disease, and changes in mobility and independence.” With the goal of keeping seniors living independently in their homes, volunteers from the CHEER and CHORE programs perform essential tasks such as small home repairs, grocery shopping, running errands, or simply offering friendly conversation. Whether it’s preventing injury by installing a grab bar or delivering much-needed medication, these services reduce the impact that physical health has on the mental health of CHEER and CHORE clients. 

To learn more about CHEER and CHORE,
 contact the Successful Aging Team at