Bergen Volunteer Center CEO Shares Importance of Voluteering

Bergen Volunteer Center CEO, Lynne Algrant, describes the Center's programs, such as Bergen LEADS, which fosters volunteerism and leadership in the community.

#1917 11/4/2016






"Steve Adubato here, this is One on One. It is my honor and my pleasure for the first time to welcome to our program Lynne Algrant, who is the chief executive officer of a great organization called the Bergen Volunteer Center. How you doing? I'm doing very well, thank you. People who don't know what the center is, describe it. Sure. So we are actually fifty years old this year, and we are both a clearing house for people to find volunteer opportunities, and we run direct service programs so we're harnessing the power of volunteers to meet community needs. How did you get into this? You know, I was an educator initially in my career, and then did non profit work with kids, and for a while I lived in the Cleveland area, and I had the opportunity to run a civic leadership program for Cleveland. Right. Growing new leaders for a new Cleveland. And I loved that work. The intersection between non profits, the for profit community. Hmm. And the public sector. And how that builds community. So when we moved to Bergen County, I was searching around for something to do and found the volunteer center at the very point when they were thinking about starting the Bergen Leads program. Yeah, talk about Bergen Leads. I'm excited about that. So Bergen Leads is... Yeah, Bergen Leads is a civic leadership program by and about Bergen County. So it's for adults. We have about thirty participants a year, and I call it a shoe leather masters. Hmm. No textbooks, we really use the community as our learning space, so we meet with the heads of hospitals, we meet with superintendents of schools and classroom teachers when we're studying education, and every month, we meet monthly, we have a particular topic and issue, but we also send the participants out to do site visits around the community, and then come back and share what they've learned. So we're thinking about leadership, we're thinking about Bergen county, and what its needs and opportunities are, and we're getting people excited about being civically active right here where they live and work. What a great idea. It's a lot of fun. We've been doing it, we have... we just started our ninth class, and I have to tell you, it... Hmm. Every year our topics stay pretty much the same, law and public safety, local government, but the issues area changing so much, and so often, so that even though we're talking with a lot of the same places, over the course of nine years things in Bergen county have changed dramatically. And, you know, I need to say that I'll be working with your organization together with our friends at the Meadowlands Chamber, and Jim Kirkos got us hooked up together..."