Donor Spotlight

Inspired by our Partners

A shout out to our good friends who made this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Party possible:

J&J State Street Pharmacy
A long-time partner of BVMI, J&J Pharmacy’s State Street location in Hackensack has been helping patients get the medication they need at a price they can afford for many years. When we asked, J&J immediately agreed to sponsor this event to recognize and reward the contributions of our volunteers. A huge “thank you” to Jimmy DeMicco and Michael Fedida for all they do for BVMI and our patients.

Upon accepting the award, Jimmy described “I am a firm believer that happiness is achieved by helping and serving others and that’s exactly what BVMI does. It is so fulfilling to collaborate with BVMI because it reminds me of why I became a health professional, to help people, and that is exactly what BVMI does day in and day out. ” Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative (BVMI) relies on our corporate, foundation, and local partners to help us provide free healthcare to the working uninsured of Bergen County, NJ. We do not receive any money from the local, state, or federal government.

Englewood Hospital and Medical Center
Englewood Hospital and Medical Center has been a valued partner since BVMI opened its doors in November 2009. In addition to providing free diagnostic services for our patients in the Englewood area, the hospital is always willing to provide space for fundraising and educational events.

Many thanks to Phyllis Brown-Edwards and Lori Villa for their help in arranging the event.

The Alementary Brewing Co.
The Alementary Brewing Co. is a local Hackensack landmark where BVMI volunteers and staff occasionally go for happy hour. Michael Roosevelt, co-owner and Chief Scientist, was thrilled to sponsor the event. He, along with Taproom Manager Chelsea Lancaster, attended the event and chatted with beer enthusiasts over a glass of Hackensack Lager.

Roosevelt is thrilled to be a part of the BVMI family, “Alementary is proud to support the Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative. As a member of the Hackensack family, we know how important these community services are – it’s not just those in need of medical care that benefit from the tremendous team at BVMI. We all benefit when our community is stronger and healthier. Cheers to BVMI and a healthy, prosperous Bergen county!”

2X the ♥

BVMI is feeling the love from the Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation. A few weeks ago, we received exciting news: the Foundation not only approved our grant application but decided to DOUBLE its investment!

Support from BCSF goes toward BVMI’s Women’s Health Initiative, specifically to help fund the nurse navigator position. Vicky Fliman, RN, provides education on breast health and cancer prevention for women patients, and helps them schedule – and ensures they get – prescribed tests like mammograms.

Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative (BVMI) provides free, life-saving primary care to hard-working Bergen County, NJ residents who don't have insurance. We have a Women's Health Initiative, a Diabetes Care and Education program, and a Chronic Disease Management initiative.

“Our women patients are so concerned about the health and well-being of their family members that they often put their own health last,” says Vicky. “Education and screening are crucial to early detection and it’s one of many ways we can make sure our patients stay healthy.”

Dee Dee Lowland, executive director of Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation, says “our board wanted you to know that we increased the amount of your ask because of the great work you do. We are so pleased with the information you provide about the program and know how grateful your patients are to have a clinic like yours. Keep up the wonderful work you do!!!”

“The Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation is a long-time and valued partner,” says Amanda Missey, BVMI’s CEO. “With their support, we can ensure breast health is a priority through our Women’s Health Initiative. We are especially grateful to them for a wonderful gift – times two!”


In the last few weeks of the 2016, over 125 families, community foundations, corporations, and supporters gave to BVMI. YOU make each and every day at BVMI possible…

…for the patient who finally returned to a healthy weight-range after a year of diet, exercise, and frequent monitoring
…for the working single dad who just underwent surgery and can play outside with his kids knowing that he once again has a healthy heart
…for the grandmother who beat breast cancer and is able to live to see her granddaughter get married

We couldn’t do it without you. Thank you for your ongoing support!

The Gutenstein Family Foundation is an Early Supporter of Paso a Paso

“I’ve been so incredibly fortunate and lucky in this life,” says Robert Gutenstein, a longtime supporter of BVMI. “If givingAmanda and Bob Gutenstein a few bucks can give others a huge boost, why wouldn’t you do just that?”

Bob is a humble man who believes in the power of generosity as being a force behind change. “I believe in being a force multiplier, so I support those who help people who are in great need.”

Recognizing that the effect of obesity is a growing threat in the United States, Bob is the first to provide support for BVMI’s obesity program with a gift from the Robert G. and Ellen S. Gutenstein Family Foundation. “I feel comfortable spending my money because I know BVMI is watching it. With their limited overhead, I know the maximum benefits are going toward the persons we’re trying to help. BVMI does an incredible job providing a vital service to the working poor and they do so in such a way that these people don’t have to beg. Who wouldn’t want to support an organization like this?”

The Gift of a Day

Our donors give us a gift every day by making it possible for us to open our doors Mike Azzara
and provide vital healthcare for our hardworking Bergen County neighbors.

And every day that we open our doors, we change lives…

…for the patient whose blood sugar has finally returned to a normal range after a year of diet and exercise
…for the working-mom who finds out she’s cancer-free after months of battling a disease that nearly left her children without a mother
…for the grandfather who has learned to manage his blood pressure and is able to celebrate his granddaughter’s 5th birthday

At BVMI’s 7th Anniversary Gala, generous guests made sure that BVMI could continue to open its doors by responding to the Greatest Need Appeal, emceed by Mike Azzara, former CEO of The Valley Hospital and BVMI trustee. Through their generosity, BVMI can continue to serve nearly 1,000 patients, keeping them healthy so they can work, care for their families and contribute to the community.

Local Events Make a World of Difference

Popular interior decorating and design company,Greenbaum Interiors,joined forces with lifestyle magazine Bergen Health & Life to host a July event for BVMI at their beautiful showroom in Ridgewood. More than 50 people attended, giving BVMI the opportunity meet with local business owners and community members.

Donor Picture

Marsha Eisen, BVMI volunteer dietitian, spoke to guests about the need for health literacy among the population BVMI serves. “When I was working at the hospital, I was seeing people who were very ill from a lifetime of poor eating habits. When I first started at BVMI, I wondered why they needed me. Although many of the my patients were making bad choices, no one was really sick. Then, it hit me: BVMI truly is about primary and preventive care. If I can educate patients on how to eat healthy now, they might not need other services like surgery or diabetes education programs later.”

Susan Greenbaum Gross, president of Greenbaum Interiors, was pleased to be able to host the event in support of BVMI. “The work done by BVMI is inspiring and so necessary in our area. BVMI’s volunteer doctors and nurses are wonderful examples of all of the good we can do when we pull together and share our knowledge and resources.”
Greenbaum Interiors’ generosity did not end when the party did.

For the month of August, they will contribute 5% from all purchases made by supporters to BVMI. All three locations (Ridgewood, Paterson, and Morristown) are participating – just tell them you support BVMI. This family-owned business offers one-of-a-kind furniture, custom upholstery, special decorative treatments, design services, and much more. Pick up some new furniture and shop for a good cause!

The Paneks Share Their Love for BVMI

Sue and Bob Panek

Sue and Bob Panek have achieved something special: they just observed their 44th wedding anniversary! To celebrate, they threw a big party – with a twist. As long-time supporters of BVMI, they asked their friends, family and colleagues to forego bringing gifts and instead make a donation to BVMI in their honor.

Sue has a soft spot in her heart for BVMI because she’s a nurse volunteer. Like many of our volunteers, she describes BVMI as her favorite charity, where she can see and be a part of BVMI’s Culture of Caring. “I see the good we do. Where would our patients go if we weren’t here? I love the care we give because it is so integrated and the access to specialists is unbelievable. Everyone here cares. Everyone here believes in what we do.”

Thank you, Sue and Bob, for sharing your special day with BVMI!

RBC Capital Markets, LLC Hosts First BVMI Jeans Day

Recently, BVMI received a check from RBC Capital Markets, LLC, in New York City. RBC Capital Markets, LLC Jeans DayEmployees at the firm had chosen BVMI as the beneficiary of the Jeans Charity program, which raised more than $5,660 for BVMI.

“BVMI board member Mike Azzara kicked off the RBC BVMI Jeans Charity campaign with a visit to RBC Capital Markets in January 2016. At a packed trading floor meeting to start the day, Mike’s message and BVMI’s mission impressed us all. The result was an all-time Jeans Charity fundraising record. We appreciate BVMI’s national and local contribution to the healthcare system,” said Chris McCarthy of RBC.

“We are very grateful to the employees of RBC Capital Markets.  What a great way to raise money for a worthy cause – it’s something that everyone can feel good about participating in,” said Mike Azzara.  “We encourage other companies to take up the challenge by hosting their own onsite fundraiser to benefit BVMI.  It’s a great way to build team spirit and morale, while helping our hardworking neighbors in Bergen County get access to healthcare.”

BVMI has created a Jeans Day toolkit which includes flyers, signage, suggested social media posts notifying the community of your organization’s support of BVMI, and stickers for your employees to show their Jeans Day pride!  Contact Samantha Poremba, BVMI Development Associate, at or (201) 518-8487 for more information.

Support Straight from the Source

Suez Volunteers

SUEZ (formerly United Water) is a good corporate citizen, supporting many local nonprofit and educational organizations. BVMI is fortunate to be one of those agencies, receiving contributions of time, talent and treasure.

SUEZ volunteers will stuff and label almost 10,000 pieces of mail this year. The company is also helping to outfit BVMI’s new home by donating thousands of dollars worth of office furniture and fixtures. And BVMI was thrilled to receive a grant from the SUEZ Foundation for the purchase of two additional licenses for the electronic medical record (EMR) program. The EMR allows BVMI to electronically chart all patient visits and substantially enhances patient tracking.

Lori Murray, SUEZ Outreach Specialist, says “We are proud to partner with BVMI so they can fulfill their mission to assist those in need.” The feeling is mutual – thank you, SUEZ!

TD Bank Hosts BVMI Volunteers

5 Year PinsBergen Volunteer Medical Initiative (BVMI) welcomed more than 80 guests to its annual Volunteer Appreciation party, hosted by TD Bank. BVMI volunteers, who play a critical role in providing free healthcare to low-income, working, uninsured Bergen County adults, donated more than $503,000 in professional services last year.

“TD Bank and BVMI share a common goal – ensuring that Bergen County residents receive the best that both organizations have to offer. Giving back to the community is of paramount importance to TD Bank; that’s why our two organizations are such a good fit,” said Joshua D. Feldman, Vice President/Store Manager at TD Bank. “Being able to help BVMI recognize their volunteers is something that we feel privileged to be a part of. BVMI – and their volunteers – have TD Bank’s continued support!”

Pictured here are 19 of the 34 volunteers who received their 5 year pins.

“BVMI would not exist without our volunteers,” said Amanda Missey, CEO of BVMI. “We rely on them to provide the compassionate care that our patients deserve, and are very grateful that they have chosen to give their time and talents to change the lives of our patients.”

Thank you, TD Bank!

BCB Community Bank is a Good Friend to BVMI

BCB Community Bank is new to Bergen County and new to BVMI, but they’re already a good friend!BCB Bank

BCB Bank opened a branch in Rutherford a year ago, and quickly set out to lend a helping hand to nonprofit organizations.  Kathleen Hansen, the branch manager, came to visit BVMI and was so impressed with the difference that BVMI makes in the lives of our patients that she wanted to help!

As a result, BCB Bank sponsored a Wine & Welcome party last week.  More than 40 guests attended the event, which featured a BVMI patient whose life was literally saved through quick intervention.

Thank you, BCB Bank!



Thank you!

 BCSF breast modelThe Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation (BCSF), committed to “helping women survive,” has been a supporter of BVMI for four years. BCSF offers grants to healthcare facilities that provide free mammograms and breast diagnostic services to uninsured and low-income patients; BVMI was selected as one of 49 free clinics nationwide to receive funding.  BCSF’s generous support has ensured that BVMI has the necessary staffing to follow up on mammogram referrals, and provided funding to purchase a breast model to teach women patients how to properly do a breast self exam.

BCSF’s support of BVMI does indeed help our patients survive.  Recently, a BVMI patient was extremely distraught when she received a diagnosis of breast cancer.   BVMI volunteer Harold Bruck, MD, calmed her fears and answered her questions so she understood the challenge she is facing.  BVMI’s team will be there going forward to help her access and get the treatment she needs to get well.


“It Takes a Village…”

Investors Foundation

Investors Foundation

We’ve all heard, “It takes a village to raise a child.” We at BVMI know it takes a good neighbor to sustain a community. A good neighbor like Investors Foundation, who recently supported BVMI with a $2,500 grant to support BVMI’s mission of providing free primary healthcare to low-income, working Bergen County residents who do not have insurance (47,000 people!)

“Investors Bank is pleased to support BVMI in its efforts to provide special health programs to the low- and moderate- income community it serves.  This population is in dire need of these kinds of services and we are glad to help,” said Ada Melendez-McGuinness, Vice President and Director of Community Development.  “We commend you for taking on these worthy initiatives and happy with the partnership we have developed  which mirrors our respective values of caring for others.”

Thank you, Investors Foundation!

BVMI’s Greatest Need

Michael Azzara

Michael Azzara

For six years, gala guests have  responded generously to BVMI’s request for support during the Greatest Need portion of the evening.  This year it was Mike Azzara, BVMI’s former chairman of the board, who asked people to “dig deep.”  And they did.

The need is urgent.  For 1,000 Bergen County residents, BVMI is their doctor.  They come to the center with a variety of health issues – some life-threatening, some chronic and some less critical.  The goal is to treat them and then educate them so that subsequent appointments become wellness visits.  When patients are healthy, they can go to their jobs, help their families and contribute to the community.

This year’s Greatest Need raised $53,000, helping BVMI to close in on its gala fundraising goal of raising a quarter of BVMI’s annual budget.  Thank you all for being part of the Greatest Need and for “digging deep.”  

“It’s the Way the World Should Work”

Elaine and Myron (Mike) Adler


Elaine and Myron (Mike) Adler

Elaine Adler, together with her husband Mike, is no stranger to the world of philanthropy and non-profits.  They are the founders of the Adler Aphasia Center and created their eponymous foundation.  With so many demands on their resources, when Elaine was asked why they contribute to BVMI, she simply said, “Doctors who give of themselves are high on my rating.”

She continued talking about the unusual mix that BVMI has orchestrated:  all five area hospitals are on board; vital services like blood tests, mammograms and x-rays are donated; and insurance is provided so that doctors can practice without worry.

“Everyone is disciplined and working together.  It’s the way the world should work,” replied Elaine.  “The poor get many services for free.  The rich can pay for them.  It is the working class that is caught in between and needs help.  BVMI gives them that help.”  Fortunately for BVMI, the mix that has been orchestrated includes committed friends and donors like Elaine and Mike.


Honoring a Former Employer

Anonymous Donor

A couple of weeks ago a very generous donation came unsolicited from a person we didn’t know. Our curiosity was piqued and we contacted the person to thank them and find out more about the gift.

It turns out that the donor was a former employee of The Chartis Foundation who recently left the company, but, before leaving, wanted to make a donation in honor of his time there. He recalled that Chartis was particularly drawn to BVMI and its role of providing free access to primary care within the current healthcare system. As access to healthcare is a major focus of The Chartis Foundation, he felt there was a lot of alignment of goals between the two organizations. He said he “was happy to support the cause!”

We applaud his generosity and sincerely thank him for thinking of us.

Volunteering Today – Protecting Tomorrow

Janet Finke


Janet Finke

It was 2004 and BVMI was a barely-formed spark in the minds of a few people – all of them medically-oriented. BVMI was fortunate that Janet Finke answered their call to bring her knowledge and experience of non-profit organization management to the group.

In the 11 years since, Janet has continued to volunteer her talents because she “loves the mission, the culture, the people. Despite our diverse personalities, we’re cohesive because we have a common goal.” She has also been a consistent donor.

To safeguard the future of the organization, Janet has included BVMI in her will. “A bequest shows that you believe in the organization,” she explained. “It’s simple to arrange and I urge our friends and supporters to consider doing the same.”


Rolf and Emily Henel

Moving BVMI Foward

Rolf and Emily Henel

“Emily and I first became involved with BVMI because of Allen Demby, who encouraged me to join the BVMI board,” said Rolf Henel.  “Then, we increased our commitment – with both time and money – because we were impressed with the doctors and nurses who were volunteering.  They are deeply caring and extremely skilled.”

Rolf also felt his business experience and background in pharmaceuticals and medical devices at Pfizer and American Cyanamid (now also Pfizer), where he retired as a Division President, would help BVMI take the next steps forward.  He joined the Board of Trustees and now, five years later, is the Chairman.   “We remained involved because we’re convinced of the worthiness of the cause.  A healthy mom or dad impacts the entire family and community for the better.”

Passion for Primary Care

Chartis Foundation

de simone granholm cropped

Art De Simone, MD with Mary Granholm, Chartis Fellow

Speak with Jim Kagen for even the briefest of moments and you’ll be convinced of his passion for primary care centers, the underserved population it helps and his desire to provide funding to sustain them.  As proof, the Chartis Foundation has donated more than $1 million to more than 30 nonprofits and BVMI ranks high on this list.

As consulting director for The Chartis Group and president of the Chartis Foundation, Mr. Kagen and Chartis’ Board of Trustees were the force behind the first donation of$50,000 in 2013 with the promise of $50,000 more for each of the next two year.

With two of the grants approved, Mr. Kagen said, “We got a glowing report from BVMI last year and – should it be repeated – the grant will probably be renewed.”

The grant funds the position of a Chartis Fellow, a nurse practitioner who handles patient visits as well as urgent care phone calls.  It has allowed BVMI to  expand its healthcare support services in the areas of health literacy, women’s health and wellness, and diabetes care and education.  BVMI is extremely grateful for this generous support from the Chartis Foundation.

With BVMI Since the Beginning

The Russell Berrie Foundation Russell Berrie Foundation logo

It all started when a BVMI trustee told a Russell Berrie Foundation board member about an innovative health care initiative in Bergen County that provides free care for patients who cannot afford health insurance and do not qualify for Medicaid. The Russell Berrie Foundation responded, awarding its first grant to BVMI for $5,000.

That was in 2009. Additional grants to BVMI would follow from 2010 to 2012. BVMI continued to grow, serving more and more patients. Especially significant was the number who were diabetic or pre-diabetic – 30% of the patient population. As the need for a program to address their needs became more urgent, in 2013 BVMI pro-actively approached the Foundation for funding, since diabetes care and prevention is one of its mission areas. The Russell Berrie Foundation acted swiftly, and in 2013 granted $25,000 to hire a Certified Diabetes Educator. A $25,000 Challenge Grant followed in 2014.

The Foundation noted that, in addition, to BVMI’s focus on diabetes education and treatment, it recognized the collaborative relationships that BVMI maintains with the five area hospitals, its strong volunteer base, and network of area physicians who see BVMI patients at no charge. BVMI’s partnership with the Russell Berrie Foundation has created a diabetes education and care program that has affected hundreds of lives – amazing!