Bergen Volunteers Buzz
July 2020
What is the Buzz?
Bergen Volunteers Buzz is our monthly newsletter highlighting organizational news, events, updates, and volunteer opportunities. Look out for our newsletter at the beginning of every month to stay connected with your friends at  Bergen Volunteers!
“Please don’t thank me. I get far more out of the experience than I put in.”

In some form or another, I have heard this sentiment from volunteers and LEADers throughout my five years as CEO. The sheer magnitude of time, talent and treasure that people devote to others through our organization is awe inspiring.

The Bergen Volunteers’ value statement includes sections labeled:

People
Diversity
Collaboration
Excellence

These are beautiful concepts that I watch the staff devote themselves to hourly by crafting programs that inspire talent and meaningful impact. 

At a period of time when our community, our nation and our world needs greater empathy and insight, I know that Bergen Volunteers is instrumental in helping people gain and deepen their understanding of others. As we push ourselves to take a hard look at the true impact of policies and systems, regardless of their intent, I know that meaningful volunteer experiences are essential to widening one’s perspective.

Since I moved to Bergen County in 2006, in some way or another, Bergen Volunteers has been at the center of every experience I have had and almost every new friendship I have made. Much like the organization is a community hub, it has been a hub in my personal and professional life. I do not see that changing as I embark on a new chapter.

So with much gratitude and humility--please know that I have gotten far more out of my experiences with Bergen Volunteers than I have put in. And the best part is because Bergen Volunteers is the premier collaborative hub--I am not saying “good-bye”--just “‘til we meet again.”

Stay safe,
Upcoming Events
Program Updates
Bergen LEADS and READS
Bergen LEADS Class of 2020 will graduate on July 7, 2020. Congratulations to all the graduates who really had an interesting journey through this pandemic. We are busy planning for the new Class of 2021 which will kick off in September. We will wait to see what the landscape looks like for our College and Teen LEADS programming and for Bergen Reads!
CHEER
CHEER has already started grocery shopping and errands for our isolated seniors. Our CHEER Program is helping over 30 clients to get fresh groceries by using safe protocols. The protocols have set standards for contactless shopping between our clients and our volunteers. More volunteers will restart their weekly visits in July.
CHORE
CHORE is set to begin Phase 1 of their re-opening on July 6. Clients who received services last year to install AC units were contacted and a list was compiled of those who required them again this year. Volunteers are eager to get out and help the community again, with new social distancing and safety protocols in place. Phase 2, which will include the installation of grab bars, is in the planning stages and is hoping to be off the ground in August.
Making-It-Home
Making-It-Home is preparing to reopen in Phase I, visiting formerly homeless families who have moved from emergency shelters to new but empty apartments. Beginning next week, we’ll learn about our clients’ needs and take measurements of their new spaces. Then we’ll recruit volunteers to bring them furniture - and help ensure their health, safety, and the prospects for a new beginning. If you’re interested in volunteering your time, please contact Cynthia at cmassarsky@bergenvolunteers.org .
Mentoring
During the past 3 months of quarantine, the Mentoring Moms & Dads and Mentoring Youth programs have been operating virtually. The majority of our referrals are for male youth between the ages of 12-15. As a result, our strongest need is for adult male volunteers willing to commit to our 18 month program. Additionally, we need mentors who are bilingual in English and Spanish. Our next training session is slated for Saturday, October 3rd, from 9am - 4pm. Based on current, urgent needs in areas such as Englewood, Ridgefield and Fort Lee, we would be willing to offer a temporary, abbreviated training on July 29th, so we can match our youth in waiting. To learn more, please contact Lisa Tredici at 201-489-9454 ext. 208. To sign up to be be a mentor, click here .
Redefining Retirement
We would like to thank all our retiree volunteers for all they have done and are doing, even if it is staying at home to keep others safe and healthy! That in itself is a major contribution to their communities. We also appreciate that many of our retirees have experienced prolonged deferrals of their volunteer activities and although may be ready to get back to normal, must consider when and how carefully to do so. The Redefining Retirement team has begun working with its non-profits to understand their plans for reopening and when volunteer activities might be resumed in a safe manner. In addition, we are discussing new or different ways that our particular group of volunteers might be able to connect and contribute in the face of a continuing challenging environment. We expect to know more in the coming months, so stay tuned! Need to reach out? Contact us at retirement@bergenvolunteers.org or 201-489-9454,x210.
VITA
This year’s tax program was cut short by the pandemic but did manage to help a lot of individuals and families early on. In the short time VITA was running we had 28 VITA volunteers providing 784 hours of service. The volunteers prepared 99 federal returns and 104 state
returns accumulating $110,235 in refunds.
Volunteer Opportunities
A great way to receive information about what is going on with volunteering in our area is for you to create a user account on our Get Connected database. While many opportunities are unavailable at this time due to COVID19, you can post your information including your skills and your interests. You will receive information on opportunities that match your information. Access the database here . While in person volunteering is limited during this time of the pandemic, remember how much our non-profits will need your continued support as community activity opens up and we get back to the business of helping others. 
Thank You
The Food Distribution for Cliffside Park and Fairview took place on June 3, 2020. Dry goods, fruits, vegetables, and chicken were handed out to 1020 households!

Thank you to a fabulous collaboration between Bergen Volunteers, the County Executive and Freeholders offices, the mayors, staff and police departments of Fairview and Cliffside Park, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s and Sherriff’s offices, our food partner, the Community Food Bank of Northern NJ and the Franciscan CCD in Fairview for making it all happen!
Bergen Volunteers bergenvolunteers.org