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Volunteer Stories of Impact

Frank, CHORE Volunteer

Ret. M. Director, Morgan Stanley

Wanting to Find Something Different

After serving for more than 40 years in senior business positions, I retired. During my career, and to alleviate some of the stress, I worked on and flipped many homes throughout Bergen County over the years, where I was able to hone my handiwork skills. I retired in June 2018 and quickly realized that I needed to get involved with something to keep me occupied. I wanted a change from executive-type work, In roles where I could see the impact of my efforts. A “Redefining Retirement” event in Westwood lead me to the Bergen Volunteers’ CHORE program. People are so happy to see us and are so grateful for what we do, Additionally, I have made lifelong friends with the others I volunteer with, all caring and loving individuals. As a positive, I continue to learn from my colleagues that come from so many varied backgrounds.

Bill, CHORE Volunteer

Ret. Master Electrician

Bringing His "Powerful" Expertise

I was blessed with “the handy gene” in more than 50 years of labor in the industry as an apprentice, union electrician, contractor, master electrician and electrical inspector I was always exposed to the work of other trades. I had an interest and learned a lot about carpentry, plumbing and other skilled trades by observation. CHORE was a perfect place for me to utilize my skill set in service to others. CHORE has given me an opportunity to help others in small ways. As a volunteer I have experienced gratification via the gratefulness of our clients. The program has given me more than I give it. Having the chance to see the needs of our clients and the sometimes difficult circumstances of their existence is enlightening and also a reminder of the good fortune that I and my family enjoy.

Gregg, CHORE Volunteer

Retired CPA, Internal Finance Banking Officer

Time Well "Spent"

I attended a Bergen Volunteer event where there were a variety of organizations that had volunteer opportunities. Bergen Volunteers had a desk and were looking for people for the VITA program. I had heard of it and thought it would be a good fit for me - both making use of my background and as an opportunity to both meet other people as well as give back to the community. The VITA clients are truly thankful, which makes the time spent that much more rewarding. Also, in seeing the finances of those that qualify for this program, I have an even greater appreciation for the need for services such as Bergen Volunteers.

Alina, CHEER Volunteer

Psychology and Economics Graduate

Making a Difference

I moved a few years ago from Belarus and was stay at home mom. I have a psychological and economics diploma from Belarus. I really missed the opportunity to bring value to people and I dreamt to be part of the US society and make difference. In addition, I wanted to have an opportunity to speak English. I Googled and found Bergen Volunteers. I was surprised by how it is easy to make new friends and how sweet clients can be.

Joanne, Retired Nonprofit Professional; HOA Trustee

Rediscovering Her Path to Giving Back

When I started my career it was in a nonprofit. I always liked helping people, but switched my career for a better income. I met with volunteers that had the outreach program to help folks figure out what they’d most like to do. I switched from computer work to running errands for someone who can no longer do that kind of work. I made friends with my client -- she has lots of wisdom and is very funny. I’m surprised by the amount of programs offered by Bergen Volunteers. The amount of programs the Bergen volunteers offer to Bergen County. Most people like me were unaware of the programs.

Staci, Bergen LEADS Alumna,

READS Volunteer

Finding “Fearless Joy”

I’m a Bergen County resident with deep roots in Philadelphia, PA and South Jersey. I’ve worked in nonprofit, healthcare, and education organizations for close to 30 years, aside from being an operations manager, I am also the founder and Chief Coaching Officer for Kitt White Coaching LLC, which is a transformational and leadership coaching practice that creates space for women and new leaders to design vibrant, intentional lives grounded in wellbeing. My life motto is fearless joy. I view challenges as avenues for clarity and creativity. I am the co-chair for the Women in Leadership Team Member Resource and a member of the Multicultural and Black Team Member Resource Groups. I am also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the advisory board for Hackensack High School’s School-Based Youth Services program and sit on the Board of Directors for the International Pemphigus and Pemphigoid Foundation. The students are smart, curious, honest, and kind. One day a student I had read to for several weeks told me that she was going to read to me. She read two books that day and did a phenomenal job and her smile let me know how proud she was of herself. It was a reminder of the impact of connecting with another person in seemingly simple ways. Bergen Volunteers offers options to reconnect with the best parts of who we are as people.

Andy, CHORE Volunteer

Retired Carpenter Foreman

Learning from the Masters

Since the early 1970’s, I was responsible for reading blueprints and laying out framing, and maintained a fully-equipped woodworking shop at my home in Old Tappan, where I also built two additions. I also learned from one neighbor who was a master electrician and from another who was a master plumber. What surprised me most? How much enjoyment I get out of working with senior clients.

Shay, CHORE Volunteer

Construction Technician

Finding a Fun, Natural Match

I have a background in woodworking, electricity, electronics and general handiwork. And I always fix things around my house as my wife said nothing ever dies here. Helping with the CHORE program was natural for me. I love working with other volunteers. They come from different backgrounds and you can always learn new things from each other.

Richard, CHORE Volunteer

Ret. Comp Tech and Risk Manager; Emergency Volunteer

Experiencing the Impact, Firsthand 

My wife's parents needed grab bar installations in their bathtubs, and we learned about the CHORE service from a physical therapist who worked with them, and when my professional career ended in late 2018, enrolled in CHORE in February 2019. I have been doing home handiwork and repairs since my childhood, on my parents’ home and my own, so it was great to apply my skills again here. The most impactful result of volunteering is being able to see how the tasks we can do for the clients in some cases these seem simple and "no big deal" are a huge help to their day to day life.

Paul, CHORE Volunteer

Construction Technician

Seasoned HR Professional;
Board Member

I spent my entire working life in large companies doing HR. I have always had a passion for home repair, and the CHORE program gave me a great opportunity to give back during my retirement by doing something I love. Before I joined CHORE, I thought everyone in Bergen County lived in nice homes, drove new cars. It opened up my eyes to other people's lives and I better understand that many folks are not as lucky as I am.

Dan, Administrative CHORE Volunteer

Retired Music Teacher

I was a music teacher and Englewood resident for over 30 years, looking to stay active. After engaging in Teaneck’s “Redefining Retirement” event, I learned about opportunities and built upon my basic handiwork skills realizing that anyone can learn and get involved in the CHORE program. But a back injury and a couple of surgeries kept me off duty. Michele the program manager helped me find purpose with the program again as in a desk role which is still essential to the program. I return dozens of inquiry calls, and connect with folks. Some of them have amazing backgrounds but live in difficult situations. You realize the benefit when clients who are at risk for falls, or who have been unwell, can have a set of grab bars installed to improve their aging in place status. The program helps me realize how lucky I am.

Levonda, Retired Law Enforcement Officer

From Police Force to Diligent Office Help

Lavonda's accomplished law enforcement career included positions as a deputy sheriff, court officer and senior court clerk in the Bronx. A friend who worked in Family Court told Lavonda about Redefining Retirement, as we wanted to get out of the house during pandemic times, and work in an office setting, following up on CHORE assignments, with calls and thank-you notes to clients. She understands and appreciates that many of these seniors have limited opportunities to talk to people, so it brings her great joy to change that, if only for a few minutes.

Steve, READS Volunteer

College Textbook Developer

Pursuing Education for All

I ran the development department for college textbooks at Pearson Education. I study every aspect of language, and earned my masters in linguistics just about ten years ago. I’m amazed by hearing the eight-year-olds in third grade improving their comprehension, vocabulary and self-confidence through the Bergen READS program. It is joyful to watch them.

Rachel, READS Volunteer

Teaneck Resident

Inspired by Her Upbringing in Diverse Teaneck

My late mom, Vivienne Cooperman ... is and always will be my inspiration. She raised me in Teaneck where I had an awesome educational experience. I wasn’t aware,until I left Teaneck as an adult, how utterly behind much of the rest of the world is with regard to integration, valuing people as equals, and affording equal unbiased opportunities to all. Hence, my desire to volunteer in Teaneck stems from my long held belief that all people should be regarded equally and respectfully, and my desire is to help work towards this goal.

Lucy, READS Volunteer

Retired Teacher, READS Volunteer

Sharing the Excitement for Reading

I am a retired teacher who continues to enjoy interacting with children, especially in an academic environment. Bergen Volunteers affords me the opportunity to be involved in both of those experiences. They are always excited during our reading time, and honestly I feel the same way. Bergen Volunteers has made me feel that I’m making a difference, which means the world to me.

Diana, READS Volunteer

Retired Park Ridge Music Teacher

Serving in New Jersey

I spent 32 years in education with the last 28 years in the Park Ridge School District. Teaching children has been the most enjoyable experience for me, and I wanted to continue that when I discovered the Bergen READS opportunity. Bergen Reads has added an additional purpose to my routine. I’m happiest when I’m helping others. Before the school year is out, the children I’m working with will improve their reading skills. This will include their fluency and vocabulary.The anticipation of seeing the children and knowing that what I am doing is making even a small difference, brightens my day and creates that positive atmosphere that is so important in life.

Cono, Ret. Medical Lab Project Manager and Designer

From Design to Doing

I was a construction project manager/designer for a national medical laboratory my decision to volunteer with CHORES was something that my mother said of how lucky she was to have me to fix and maintain her home and wondering how other senior people do it if they don’t have someone like me, that stuck in my mind and when I found out about the type of work CHORES did I wanted to help. Although I’m relatively new with the CHORE program I find satisfaction in seeing the people happy to see us when we arrive and of appreciation when we leave, what is surprising to me is that I do look forward to the one day a week of going out with other volunteers to do this work.

Pat, READS and Partner

Finding Purpose in Her Free Time

Finding Purpose in Her Free Time with Bergen Volunteers and Our Partner Nonprofits I retired just over two years ago. My husband and I raised three sons with busy work schedules where I was gone for long days. I took advantage of every program in town to fill the hours I couldn't be home with my children. Bergen Volunteers has enabled me to give back. I have found such a fulfilling way to spend all of my sudden free time. The organizations I have connected with are doing such important work serving the community and I am proud to be a part of that work. I have connected with the Food Brigade, Table to Talbe, and Bergen READS all through Bergen Volunteers. It makes me feel happy to spend my time in such a productive way.

Andy, Ret. NJ Dept.of Health Officer

Changing Roles for Wellness

I worked for the New Jersey Department of Health for nearly 36 years. I had varying roles, but for my final ten years, I reviewed projects and license and certificate of need applications for health care facilities. I have done a variety of volunteer work since I retired at the end of February 2017. Much of it has involved helping seniors, usually older than myself. I thought that it would be nice to help young children to sharpen an essential skill -- reading. Their teacher, Ms. Dawn Thompson, and students appreciate our tutoring work, and I’m happy to hear that and help out.

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