Every volunteer comes to BVMI with a different history, expertise, skills and expectations. Their experiences at BVMI vary as much as their backgrounds.  

Whether the volunteer is a physician who is managing a patient's diabetes or working the front desk to check people in, every volunteer is here for the same reason: to help Bergen County's working low-income residents get the healthcare they need and cannot afford.


Inspired by Volunteering at BVMI

All his life, Aret Varvar, RN, knew he wanted to help people. While pursuing a degree in law enforcement, he saw a flyer seeking EMT volunteers and decided to sign up, thinking it would tie in nicely with his studies.

Aret was hooked right away. One of his mentors, a seasoned EMT, suggested that he explore healthcare as a career. He did, and now, he can’t imagine doing anything else. “Thankfully, I stumbled across my passion.” He enjoys the challenge of identifying the one factor – however small – that is affecting a patient’s overall health. 

Without Our Partners, We Would Have to Close Our Doors

Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative changes lives and save lives, and we couldn’t do it without help from our partners in the community. On September 21, we had the opportunity to recognize six of them at BVMI’s 7th Anniversary Gala.

Quest Diagnostics was presented with the Corporate Leadership Award, and the radiology departments at all five Bergen County hospitals were presented with the Community Leadership Award. Since 2009, Quest Diagnostics has provided free lab work for all BVMI 

With BVMI, You Don't Have to Stand Alone

For Dr. Kay Fagan, volunteering as part of BVMI’s Women’s Health Initiative is a perfect match because she believes that “women are unique.” After working in a women’s prison, Dr. Fagan promised herself that she would continue serving in a clinical setting that values women.

When she received an email from a colleague about BVMI back in 2009, Dr. Fagan immediately saw an opportunity to “to practice in an underserved area with women who are 

Dr. Josef Machac Leads Obesity Team

When Dr. Josef Machac was in medical school, he was fascinated by every specialty there was. He ultimately focused on cardiology, but has believed throughout his career in the power of taking an interdisciplinary approach to medicine. He’s consulted on thyroid cancer studies, assisted in various dementia studies and examined issues relating to obesity.

Dr. Machac heard about BVMI when it opened in November, 2009. He was still working, but helped raise money by making presentations at Central Unitarian Church in Paramus. As he

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BVMI is Grateful for our "Snowbirds"

Dr. Timothy Corey is what we affectionately call a “snowbird” here at BVMI. For several months of the year, he volunteers at a free clinic in Englewood, FL.

When he returns to New Jersey for the summer months, he donates his time to BVMI. Dr. Corey, a dermatologist, has been volunteering with BVMI for two summers now.

BVMI Welcomes New Board Members

Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative is happy to introduce four new trustees to the BVMI board.  We are pleased to welcome Shannon Lazare, Mark McKoy, Dr. Ana K. Stankovic and Dr. David Sutter. Each will serve a three-year term.

We Love Our Nurses!

National Nurses Week 2016 (May 6-12) gives everyone another chance to say thanks. "We are immensely proud of the 33 nurses and nurse practitioners who love their profession – and their patients – enough to donate their time and talent,” said Amanda Missey, BVMI’s President & CEO.

It's Never Too Late!

Heidi Ahlborn, MD, became a BVMI primary care provider in 2015, but she’s no stranger to the medical field – or to us. A trained physician, Heidi had focused for 25 years on building a strong family, with five children. She placed her medical license on “inactive” status during that time.

Healthy & Happy

A healthy diet is important to a person’s overall health.  No one believes this more than Marsha Eisen, who worked as a Registered Dietitian for 36 years at Hackensack University Medical Center.

It Takes Two!

Many BVMI volunteers form solid professional partnerships – and friendships – with their fellow volunteers.  Working in such a caring environment – and for patients who so appreciate the care – ensures that BVMI’s volunteers look forward to their shifts!

Congratulations Michelle!

Michelle Kaye, MSN, RN, started volunteering at BVMI five years ago, bringing 18 years of experience as a nurse manager with her. Michelle’s one-day-a-week volunteer stint soon turned into a paid position when the nurse manager decided to “officially” retire.

Six Years and Counting...

Speak to Alice Wright, RN, and she’ll explain that she started volunteering at BVMI because of its mission –  then stayed because of the exemplary care that the nurses and physicians provided.

"I Started With a Vision"

Hands down, the auction at this year’s gala was the best one ever, not only because of the innovative auction items, but also because it raised $19,850.  And BVMI has volunteer Cynthia Chazen to thank. 

BVMI's Dream Team

Each year, guests arrive at BVMI’s Anniversary Gala with high expectations. This year will be no exception. BVMI’s “dream team” has led the event for five of the last six years.

¡Hablamos Español!

BVMI is fortunate to have three volunteer interpreters: Christian Monsalve, Anjelica Veca and Judith Venegas. Their job is twofold – to help the doctors, nurses, and other clinical volunteers and staff to fully understand the patient’s symptoms and to help the patient understand what follow-up is needed and how to take any medications that are prescribed.

Strengthening Skills through Volunteering

“Emergency room nursing is all about stabilizing and treating the patient’s urgent healthcare needs in the short term, whereas the work at BVMI is focused on the patient’s long term, primary healthcare needs,” explained Tom Scheuren, an RN with Chilton Hospital and valued BVMI volunteer.

A Labor of Love

More than 100,000 breast cancer patients were fortunate to have Dr. Harold Bruck as their surgeon. Each of them knew he or she was being treated by a highly skilled surgeon who also cared very deeply about his patients.

Celebrating our Five-year Volunteers!

More than 70 volunteers, staff and friends of Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative recently gathered at a Volunteer Reception hosted by TD Bank in Wyckoff.  The highlight of the evening was a special recognition for volunteers who had given five years of service.

From the Beginning

Even before the doors opened at BVMI, Dr. Howard Lipton’s impact was being felt. After retiring in 2006 and traveling to the destinations he always promised he would see, Dr. Lipton “wanted to do something more.”

The Importance of Communication

Volunteerism has been a part of Dr. Hommadov’s life since high school, when he was an assistant providing medical care to underserved, rural areas in Turkmenistan. High school was also where he learned English and Turkish, in addition to his native Turkmen.

A Focus on Mental Health

“During a medical visit, the practitioner sometimes notices that the patient is anxious or depressed or has a problem that is getting in the way of their happiness,” explained Susan Geltman, MSW, a volunteer social worker at BVMI.

Making Access to Data Easier

After retiring from 17 years at Aetna, Inc. as the head of the $4 billion Small Business Accounts Division, Dale Cook was looking for a non-profit organization where her strong analytical skills would be of value.

Transitioning from Private Practice to Volunteer

“When I was first introduced to the BVMI concept of primary healthcare for the uninsured, I knew I would become a volunteer there as soon as I could free up some time,” explained Dr. Noel Friedland, a specialist in internal medicine for 40 years and now a three-year BVMI volunteer.

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