According to the Surgeon General’s report, Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation, published in 2023, a near epidemic of social isolation exists in the United States. The Community Chest of Eastern Bergen County is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Englewood, New Jersey.
The report outlined serious threats to society, with loneliness defined as “when the social connections we desire do not align with our actual experiences in relationships with others.” The problem is sobering: many people of all ages reported they are experiencing loneliness and social isolation. While more people who are socially isolated are low income, unhealthy, and without social connections, people from all groups can benefit from an outstretched hand and a friendly voice to help them get through the day. Dr. Murthy called for people to join with friends, coworkers, neighbors, and others to help those in need.
The Community Chest Responds to the Need
As The Community Chest of Eastern Bergen County has done since its founding during the Great Depression, it assessed the need and is responding with the launch of the Connections Initiative. The Community Chest, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Englewood, New Jersey, is following The Surgeon General’s recommendation to provide personal connections as a meaningful tool to help socially isolated people.
“During our 90th anniversary, we want to involve as many people as possible in our community in an effort to bring friendship, support and connectedness to those who feel isolated and cut off. Over the next six months, we will offer volunteers an opportunity to participate in this project as ‘Connectors’, reaching out to people, who are without support and resources,” said Dr. Shelly Wimpfheimer, Executive Director, The Community Chest of Eastern Bergen County.
The contact is intended to be friendly and supportive, not clinical in any way. “By extending a caring hand and cultivating a genuine relationship, the ‘Connector’ plays a pivotal role in reducing feelings of isolation and enriching the lives of those they connect with. The Surgeon General has identified personal connections as very meaningful to those who are socially isolated. A short conversation can be most helpful to those who are struggling with loneliness,” explained Dr. Wimpfheimer.
Become a “Connector”
The Community Chest’s Connections Initiative invites people to serve as ‘Connectors’ and engage people struggling with loneliness in short conversations. ‘Connectors’ can help by:
- Identifying individuals they know through their religious congregations, school, and the workplace;
- Making contacts with them via phone;
- Being friendly and supportive;
- Attempting to reduce feelings of isolation; and
- Trying to enrich lives by introducing them to new experiences.
‘Connectors’ must be adult volunteers, over 18 years old, interested in reaching out to people, who may be experiencing social isolation. The goal of their contact is to facilitate connection.
Virtual Connector Training Session
The Community Chest invites people interested in volunteering as ‘Connectors’ to attend a Virtual Connector Training session on Wednesday, November 8 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. During this orientation session, participants will learn about approaches to use to reach out to people, who may be shy or withdrawn or in some way uncomfortable about direct communication. The orientation also provides an opportunity to meet other volunteers and learn best practices in responding to service recipients. Register for the virtual event here: https://tinyurl.com/The-Connections-Training.
Connections Conference in 2024
The Community Chest is also sponsoring a Connections conference for professional helpers from all disciplines on Thursday, January 11, 2024 at Fairleigh Dickinson University-Teaneck Campus in the Student Union Building. Volunteers are needed to help with this effort. Neighbors ages 18 and over, representing all ethnic and racial groups, from local congregations and civic groups, and from local businesses and other community institutions, from the 15 towns The Community Chest serves, are invited to get involved in this project to help those in need. The Community Chest’s service area includes the following towns: Alpine, Bergenfield, Closter, Cresskill, Demarest, Dumont, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Harrington Park, Haworth, Northvale, Norwood, Old Tappan, Rockleigh and Tenafly. People interested in participating in the conference, should register here: https://tinyurl.com/The-Connection-Project.
Learn more about the Connections Initiative on The Community Chest’s website, www.thecommunitychestebc.org. For further information about the Connections Initiative, contact Dr. Wimpfheimer at (201) 568-7474 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributions to support the program may be sent by check made out to The Community Chest, located at 122 South Van Brunt Street, 2nd Floor, Englewood, NJ 07631. Donations are tax-deductible, as permitted by law.
About The Community Chest of Eastern Bergen County
Founded in 1933, The Community Chest of Eastern Bergen County, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization headquartered in Englewood, New Jersey, has supported local not-for-profit agencies for 90 years. The Community Chest leads initiatives and supports nonprofits that make our communities stronger and benefit people in need in eastern Bergen County. Each year, The Community Chest raises funds and allocates them to agencies demonstrating the capacity to provide services to local citizens. The organization also provides coordinating and planning services in its communities, serving as a bridge between agencies and organizations and investing in the stability and quality of the service network.
The Community Chest of Eastern Bergen County’s Board of Managers is comprised of community leaders dedicated to improving the lives of neighbors in need. People interested in being considered for board membership may contact Executive Director Dr. Shelly Wimpfheimer at (201) 568-7474.
For further information about The Chest of Eastern Bergen County, visit www.thecommunitychestebc.org/ or contact (201) 568-7474. Stay updated about the organization’s activities on Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly known as Twitter).