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GBCA Celebrates 50 YEARS of Community Action

This year Greater Bergen Community Action celebrated its 50th year of providing programs and services to the underserved in Bergen County, and the cities of Jersey City, Paterson, and Passaic. Throughout the years GBCA has made huge impacts on the individuals and families in the communities it serves. Programs for early childhood and adult education, financial and housing counseling, and energy assistance among many others, have been pivotal in empowering individuals and families.

The 2017 Annual Spring Gala was held in Paramus, at The Terrace. To commemorate 50 years of Community Action, GBCA reached out to five of its allies in the War on Poverty to honor them at the event. Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative, The Center for Food Action, Family Promise of Bergen County, Northeast New Jersey Legal Services, and Bergen County Workforce Development consistently show unwavering commitment to individuals and families in North Jersey through their programs and services. Although their missions differ, the overall goal is to provide resources that help underserved individuals move toward a life of self-sufficiency.

The 2017 Annual Spring Gala was not only to celebrate the important work GBCA and these five other outstanding organizations have done, but to also recognize how much more work needs to be done through Community Action. Greater Bergen Community Action is proud of its journey and is appreciative to Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative, The Center for Food Action, Family Promise of Bergen County, Northeast New Jersey Legal Services, and The Bergen County Workforce Development Board for being supportive through the years.

GBCA Spring 2017 Gala Honorees

The Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative (BVMI) opened its doors in November 2009 as the only healthcare center to provide free primary care to working, low-income Bergen County residents who do not have insurance. Their vision is to improve the health and well-being of the people they serve, reduce the use of hospital emergency services and serve as a model of improving access to healthcare through volunteerism. BVMI aims to address the distinct needs of their patients through the Diabetes Care and Education Program, the Women’s Health Initiative and other chronic disease management programs. Today, BVMI has a dedicated team of 65 volunteer healthcare practitioners providing care to 1,000 patients annually.

The Center for Food Action (CFA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1967 that provides emergency services to northern New Jersey’s poorest and most vulnerable residents. CFA’s mission is to prevent hunger and homelessness and improve the lives of individuals and families living in poverty. CFA provides food, housing, utility and heating assistance and offers counseling and advocacy services to low-income individuals and families. In CFA’s first year of operation, 507 people received food; in 2015, CFA distributed more than 64,000 food packages to 17,000 different people. CFA has always relied on its volunteers to do much of the necessary work, and today the volunteers play a major role in its mission to end hunger and homelessness in our community. The accomplishments of the Center for Food Action over the past 40 years are the result of the many compassionate people in the community who support their efforts.

Family Promise of Bergen County (formerly the Interreligious Fellowship for the Homeless) has played a pivotal role in serving thousands of Bergen County’s homeless, hungry and needy families and individuals since 1986. The IRF became Family Promise in February 2010 and is dedicated to providing shelter and support to working families who become homeless. Family Promise’s mission is to provide hospitality to the homeless and to keep families together in times of crisis. Since 1991, The Family Promise Walk-In Dinner Program has provided dinner to approximately 150 people in the community every night. It is the only organization in Bergen County that provides services and support for working families who are experiencing temporary periods of homelessness. Family Promise is a national organization with 199 affiliates in 42 states.

The Bergen County Workforce Development Board (Bergen WDB) is dedicated to supporting workforce and economic development by connecting Bergen County residents to jobs and ensuring that employers have the skilled workers they need to compete and prosper. Bergen WDB is a local, business-led Board of Directors composed of private and public-sector leaders from business, education, labor, community and faith-based organizations, and government. The Bergen WDB oversees the Bergen One-Stop Career Center and acts as a liaison between the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and local businesses to create opportunities for employers and Bergen County residents. The ultimate goal of the Bergen WDB is to get people re-employed in Bergen County through the resources of the public workforce system.

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