At Siena Village, Christian Health Care Center (CHCC) affordable senior-housing complexes in Wayne, Microsoft employees are teaching residents the ins and outs of laptops and cell phones. At Heritage Manor Nursing Home, seniors are playing chess with young adults on the autism spectrum who are members of North Jersey Friendship House. This non-profit organization is dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities build skills for productive lives. At Heritage Manor Nursing Home, residents are attending a carnival-style event organized by families of Wyckoff Reformed Church. The intergenerational activity includes puzzles, games, bowling, flower design, coloring, and a healthy dose of children’s laughter. Volunteering at Christian Health Care Center has been redefined.

“Volunteering by families and by groups from corporations and organizations is a growing trend, and helps CHCC continually expand and enhance its relationship with the community,” says Caroline Silva, CHCC’s Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator. “Volunteering as a group creates bonds and offers a sense of achievement as a group. Corporate employees get the bonus of participating in something memorable that can’t be experienced sitting in a conference room.”

Volunteers have been instrumental to CHCC’s growth since its founding in 1911. They worked tirelessly to raise funds to convert a 17-room farmhouse into what would become New Jersey’s first private psychiatric hospital. CHCC’s formal volunteer program launched in March 1961. The Junior Volunteer program for teens 13 to 17 was established in 1990. Last year, the CHCC volunteer force donated approximately 15,000 hours. This year, that number will increase exponentially thanks to the influx of groups volunteering.

“One of our members met Caroline at a community function. After talking, they realized that the Junior League of Bergen County could provide a service to Christian Health Care Center,” says Junior League of Bergen County member Stacy Petriello, who organized the group’s first volunteer visit to CHCC to play trivia with and distribute gift bags to Longview residents.

Other groups which volunteer at CHCC include Quest Autism Foundation Inc., St. Elizabeth School in Wyckoff, Westside Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood, Eastern Christian Schools, Greek Orthodox Regional Professionals, Lady Savant in Franklin Lakes, and Shining Star 21+, a program of the Wyckoff Family YMCA focused on focuses on enhancing life and occupational skills for developmentally disabled young adults.

“Brittany McNaboe was our first Shining Star 21+ volunteer at CHCC. She’s volunteered more than 2,000 hours over the past 10 years. We were so thrilled when she was recognized by the Health Care Association of New Jersey as the 2018 Volunteer of the Year,” Ms. Silva says. “Brittany’s enthusiasm for volunteering at CHCC resulted in fellow members of the group becoming volunteers. Up to six Shining Star 21+ members now donate their time every week. Last year, they served more than 300 hours.”

Volunteering, whether performed individually or in a group, boosts physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

“The volunteer experience at CHCC is rewarding on so many levels,” Ms. Silva says. “Our volunteers are an exceptional group of dedicated and caring individuals. They give so much and they get so much. Their efforts and commitment are invaluable.”

“Christian Health Care Center offers a variety of opportunities for our members help them feel productive and fulfilled,” says Dana White, Employment Supervisor of North Jersey Friendship House. “It is a true win/win for everyone. Our members walk away learning and reinforcing important life and work skills, while CHCC staff and patients interact with wonderful young men and women.”

For more information on volunteering at Christian Health Care Center, contact Karen Hockstein at (201) 848-4463 or khockstein@chccnj.org