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Volunteer Center Provides Opportunity and Help

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself”—Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County sponsors the local chapter of RSVP, America’s largest volunteer network for people over 55, established by the Corporation for National Community Service.

Americans over 55 have a lifetime of experience to share, and the desire to make a real difference in the world. They’ve managed households, been business owners, salespeople, artists and executives. Now they are ready to put their unique talents and expertise to work in their communities, and enrich their own lives in the process.

Whether retired, semi-retired or still in the workforce, volunteers with the Volunteer Center’s RSVP Program can choose the amount of time they want to give, and whether they want to draw on their own skills, or develop new ones as they support projects and organizations that make a real difference in meeting important community needs. Volunteer jobs at over 42 local agencies are carefully screened to assure that the volunteers get the most out of their experiences. With RSVP, volunteers receive pre-service orientation, training from the organization where they will serve, and supplemental insurance while on duty. Mileage reimbursement is offered for travel to and from the agency location.

“When we ‘RSVP’ to an invitation for an event or a party, we are responding that we would like to be a part of that particular activity,” says Barbara Wiederecht, RSVP Director. “So too, by joining our RSVP Program, you are responding to the needs of the community, that you are willing to help bring about vital changes that make Bergen County a better place to live.”

The Volunteer Center also sponsors the Chore Volunteer Handyman Service, established in 1977 to fill a growing need of home repair services for elderly and disabled persons in Bergen County. Chore is a free service; clients pay only for the materials used to complete the repair. The primary goal of Chore is to help older homeowners age 60 and over, and physically disabled homeowners age 18 and above, remain safe in their own homes.

Chore currently has 45 volunteer handymen and women, most retirees themselves, who travel throughout Bergen County, performing such things as installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fixing leaky faucets, weatherizing doors and windows, fixing door locks, repairing broken windows and minor electrical work. The Chore Service volunteers also install grab bars and interior railings, items that are often essential for individuals recovering from illnesses and accidents and those faced with frailty associated with aging. The installation of these safety items is also available for renters, with their landlord’s permission.

The Chore Service addresses the needs of the senior and disabled population in several ways. We honor a person’s need to be independent, while remaining safe in his/her own home. Chore addresses the fact that the price for repair service often greatly exceeds the fixed income of our client population. Chore performs the tasks that senior and disabled persons can neither do for themselves, nor often, find anyone else to do for them—even to changing a light bulb! Additionally, Chore volunteers provide a link to the outside world to many clients who are isolated or homebound.

Chore provides meaningful opportunity for retired people to work on a volunteer basis, fulfilling a need for those wishing to help others and give back to the community.


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Boomers Resource Guide is a special supplement to the Senior Citizen's Guide