The Volunteer Center of Bergen County
strengthens the community by connecting people through service and developing
PEOPLE and believe that through volunteer service people have the capacity to enrich their own lives and improve the quality of life in their communities.
DIVERSITY and recognize that all people have time and talents to share, and that communities are strengthened when people connect across their differences through volunteer service.
COLLABORATION and realize that we are at our best when we collaborate.
EXCELLENCE and commit to implementing innovative and effective strategies, holding ourselves accountable for results, and sharing our knowledge and best practices with others.
People helping people since 1966...
The Volunteer Center of Bergen County was founded in 1966 by the Junior League of Bergen County and a group of concerned residents who saw the need for a clearinghouse matching prospective volunteers with agencies that needed their help. This continues as a key service and is the primary concern of our Community Volunteer Services department.
In 1972, the Center began sponsorship of the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), which became an independent agency for 20-plus years but returned to sponsorship by the Volunteer Center in 2002. In 1977, the Chore Service was initiated with senior volunteer handymen/women providing minor household repairs for the elderly and/or disabled.
The next year, in collaboration with the Div. of Youth and Family Services, we took over management of Volunteers in Protective Services (VIPS), a program in which trained and caring adults help children who have suffered abuse, neglect or isolation. The programs’ name was changed to Mentoring Youth in 2010. Both Chore and Mentoring Youth have provided service continually and are going strong today.
In the late 1970s, again in collaboration with the Junior League, we established DOVIA (Directors of Volunteers in Agencies), an educational and networking organization for volunteer directors. This group became DOVIA of Bergen and Passaic Counties in 1996.
In 1996 we launched the Bergen Bike Tour, which is organized by CPAs, banking and corporate leaders with proceeds shared between the Volunteer Center and Tomorrows Children's Fund at Hackensack University Medical Center.
In 1997 we instituted a formal partnership agreement with Bergen County's United Way, in which our two organizations collaborate closely to provide volunteer services to the general community and to businesses of all sizes. In 1998 we began joint sponsorship of the Bergen County Golf Classic.
Volunteers from the Workplace was established in 1981 when CEOs from several companies requested assistance in involving their employees in service activities. Corporate volunteering has been a key activity of the VCBC since then. In 2000, in partnership with several companies and United Way, we launched the Northern New Jersey Business Volunteer Council, with a strategic focus on mobilizing companies and their employees to meet the needs of children and families. The BVC currently has 28 dues-paying member companies. The BVC and other corporate efforts are managed by the Volunteer Center’s Business Volunteer Services department.
In 1987, Volunteer Ventures was formed to develop evening and weekend group volunteer projects targeted to busy adults with limited time availability. Volunteer Ventures was phased out as an ongoing program in 2009. However, we continue to refer volunteers seeking involvement in short-term episodic volunteer projects to activities at partner agencies across the community.
In 1994 we became custodian of funds for the Bergen County Summer Campership Fund, a public-private venture in which children of low-income working families are given the opportunity to attend summer day camp.
Parent Aides for Teens (PATs) was initiated in 1995, adapting the VIPS model to help teen mothers become responsible parents; this program was terminated in 2006 due to lack of sustainable funding. Mentoring Moms was established in 1995 as an expansion of VIPS to provide peer mentors for overwhelmed mothers in need of guidance in parenting and life skills.
In 1999, we began annual publication of our extensive database of volunteer opportunities in the Guide to Volunteering, well-received and distributed throughout our community. In 2000, our searchable database of volunteer opportunities was posted on our website: www.bergenvolunteers.org.
In the wake of Tropical Storm Floyd in 1999, we formed the Bergen County VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) which assists the B.C. Office of Emergency Management, American Red Cross and other first responders in preparing for and responding to disasters. Our leadership of the VOAD has proved effective in mobilizing volunteers and agencies in response to subsequent events: the terror attacks of September 11, Katrina, the floods of April 2007 and the violent storms of March 2010. We are also involved in regional and national disaster response planning.
In late 2003, we suspended sponsorship of DOVIA in order to focus on providing training to build capacity of nonprofit agencies to better fulfill their missions, including effective engagement of volunteers. Our Nonprofit Training and Resource Center provides an outstanding curriculum in volunteer program management, Board development and other topics relevant to nonprofit management; our "Neighbor Academy" is offered free of charge and targeted to grassroots, community and faith organizations of limited means.
In 2007 we began development of Bergen LEADS, a community leadership program designed to give the next generation of leaders insight into the challenges and opportunities facing Bergen County. The program was launched in September, 2008, and the first class of carefully selected, exceptional prospective leaders was graduated in June 2009.
The Volunteer Center of Bergen County is an affiliate member of the Points of Light Institute & HandsOn Network, whose mission is to inspire, mobilize and equip people to take action that can change the world.