In its November 2016 issue, Bergen magazine called NVE “a community bank with a long history of making a difference in Bergen County.” That is our goal, not only for our customers, but for all residents, businesses and other organizations in and around the North Jersey communities we serve. Philanthropy is a core tenet that has been part of NVE Bank’s DNA for 130 years. But without the incredible efforts put forth by nonprofits and other groups that serve our neighbors in need, we simply could not do what we do.
Our staff members devote countless hours to community service, and NVE contributes a portion of our earnings to local nonprofit groups in an effort to ensure that our customers and communities remain healthy and strong. One of the organizations we support in this capacity — Rebuilding Together North Jersey (RTNJ) — provides a tremendous service to the communities it serves. We spoke to RTNJ Community Outreach Coordinator Lynn Buckingham about what she and her team do to support those in need in and around Bergen County.
NVE Bank: Please describe Rebuilding Together North Jersey’s mission.
Lynn Buckingham: Our mission statement reads: “Together we transform the lives of low-income homeowners by improving the safety and health of their homes and revitalizing our communities.”
NVE Bank: Who benefits from the work RTNJ does?
We serve low-income seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and families with children. We also assist community and nonprofit organizations by working on buildings for those organizations that serve a population similar to our homeowners (whether that be a veterans group, a senior citizens center, a group home for children or adults, or a shelter for women). We also focus on community revitalization, so we may help build a community garden or playground, or do a street cleanup to help an entire neighborhood where we may be working on one or more homes.
Most of the recipients of our services are low-income homeowners; however, through our partnership with the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, we can install 10-year lithium battery smoke alarms in the homes of anyone who needs them (regardless of age, income, or home ownership). The alarms are provided by the Red Cross and our volunteers do the installation and the fire-safety education.
NVE Bank volunteers working on a Rebuilding Together project in Teaneck.
NVE Bank: What would you most like people to know about the work RTNJ does?
Even in Bergen County there are people who cannot afford to make the necessary repairs to their homes that will allow them to age in place or to live in a safe, healthy, accessible environment. Rebuilding Together North Jersey provides essential, critical repairs so homeowners can remain in the homes and communities they know and love. We’re not just repairing homes; we’re rebuilding lives and revitalizing neighborhoods.
NVE Bank: What is your biggest fundraising or community initiative that takes place each year?
Our biggest community initiative is National Rebuilding Day. It takes place the last Saturday in April annually, and it’s the day when we work on the majority of our projects for the year — anywhere from eight to 15 homes and/or community buildings. It’s also when most volunteers come out for a one-day blitz, in culmination of months of planning and lots of prep work by our volunteers, board members, and staff.
Since our three-year effort on Hurricane Sandy recovery (2013-2015), we have begun to do more year-round work, as well. Examples include our fire-safety program (smoke- and CO-detectors) and other community revitalization projects, such as our recent Crime Prevention Day in Paterson, when we installed exterior motion-sensor lights and reflective house numbers to make homes safer and more visible for residents.
Our biggest fundraisers are our annual Trivia Night in October and our Fix It Up Raffle in the spring, which give raffle-buyers an opportunity to receive some Rebuilding services of their own. The winner receives the services of skilled tradespeople to help spruce up their homes and yards. This came about as a natural extension of the work we do for those who cannot afford to do it on their own.
NVE Bank: How has NVE Bank helped you to accomplish your mission over the year?
NVE has consistently supported our mission by providing a House Sponsorship (currently $7,500 annually) and encouraging employee volunteers to take part in National Rebuilding Day. NVE employees have not only been hands-on volunteers at a local project each year, but serve as home team leaders for their projects, which means they help plan and organize the project as a volunteer coordinator or logistics coordinator. This begins as early as February or March to help make the work in April a true success! Employees have also served on our Board of Directors.
Over the years, NVE employee volunteers have worked on homes and community buildings in Englewood and other communities where the bank has a presence, making it a true partnership with the communities we both serve.
NVE volunteers and Rebuilding Together staff at a Rebuilding Day site in Hackensack.
NVE Bank: How does the support of local businesses help you carry out your mission?
Without the support provided by our sponsors and local corporate donors (who make financial or in-kind donations) we would not be able to have helped the 520-plus homeowners we have served since 1998. Their volunteers come as a team, eager and happy to work together, and eager to help their neighbors in need. And while these volunteers can do a lot, they cannot do it without the funding that these local sponsors and donors provide. The volunteer labor is free, but the tools, supplies, permits, insurance, and so much more cost money. We could not do the work without our volunteers, and we cannot support our volunteers without our corporate supporters.
NVE Bank: What are some of the ways people in Bergen/Passaic County and surrounding communities can help?
After 18 years in Bergen County, there are still people who haven’t heard of us! As we expand to include Passaic County, we are reaching people who haven’t been able to get our services before, so we need help getting the word to homeowners and community organizations or local businesses that can help us. Here are some of the ways you can help spread the word!
- Refer people in need to RTNorthJersey.org.
- Let us know if you know of a homeowner or a community building that needs help.
- Ask for and share our applications.
- Let us know of a senior group or veterans organization, or a local Rotary or Lions Club that would welcome someone from Rebuilding Together as a guest speaker.
- Make a donation or let us know if you, a spouse, or a friend works for a company that might be interested in being a corporate sponsor.
- Join us on social media, like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Then “like,” “share,” or “retweet” our posts.
- Visit our website and check out the Get Involved page to see volunteer and other opportunities.
- Join a committee or attend a fundraiser.
- Sign up for our e-newsletter to stay on top of what we’re doing! Simply text “RTBC” to 42828 to get started.
NVE Bank: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A big thank you!
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NVE Bank hosts and participates in various community service, fundraising and awareness events throughout the year. Get all the latest news, information and pictures on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. To learn more about NVE Bank’s products and services, visit our website, stop by one of our convenient neighborhood branches in Bergen County, or call 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265) to speak with a branch associate.