A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store

A truly successful event involves expert planning and coordination. The National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section exemplifies this process with the annual Back 2 School Store (B2SS), celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Every summer, NCJW/Essex creates a ‘pop up” one-day store that outfits economically disadvantaged children in Essex County with brand new clothing, school supplies and personal care items to start school on a positive note. A look behind the scenes explains why this event is so successful.

 

Each year the B2SS is chaired by three capable and detail-oriented volunteers who oversee the massive undertaking, enabling hundreds of children to attend the store. This year’s co-chairs, Karen Cherins of West Orange, and Stacey Laken and Andrea Mintz, both of Livingston, have been holding monthly planning meetings since Fall 2017. They oversee 30 active volunteers who work on more than 10 subcommittees year-round including clothing, school supplies, child recruitment and site management. “We already have over 1,000 backpacks in storage for this summer’s event,” said Andrea Mintz, who explained that as of March, 2018, all the clothing, including coats, packages of socks and underwear, school supplies and personal care items, have already been purchased.

Purchasing for the B2SS is accomplished through a combination of grants and generous donations from members, supporters and foundations. Volunteers purchase new, popular brands of sneakers, coats, clothes and backpacks in a variety of styles and colors, either online or at in-store sales. To understand the scale of this effort, Karen Cherins explained, “We will purchase 1,100 sneakers for 800 children so that each child has a choice, whether they enter at 9:00 am or 3:00 pm. Our local storage facility is currently overflowing with new merchandise and supplies as we prepare for this summer’s event.” This year, thanks to a generous donation from a longtime NCJW/Essex member, each child will receive two books, one fiction and one non-fiction, from Scholastic. Spanish language books will also be available for bilingual children.

Throughout the year, a Child Recruitment subcommittee works in partnership with 35 local social service agencies to carefully select children who will participate in the B2SS. Forms are prepared for each child indicating their age and sizing for clothing and sneakers. This year’s goal is to prepare 800 children (K-5) to start the school year with confidence, style and a smile.

The growth of the B2SS has necessitated the biggest change to occur in 10 years – a move to a new location, the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, NJ, which will afford access to the gym, library, multipurpose and computer rooms, cafeteria, and classroom storage. The extra space will present new logistical challenges but the volunteers are up to the task, making sure that every aspect of the event runs smoothly.

As each child enters the B2SS, they will be registered and matched with a volunteer to help them select the items they want. “It’s all about the child making his or her own choices,” explains Cherins. “Part of the success of the B2SS is to empower children. If a little girl wants a purple coat, a pink hat and blue gloves, she can choose them.” While the children shop, parents and caregivers are able to visit the Gaelen Family Resource Center which offers health screenings and other community services.

When the B2SS opens its doors this summer, it will be the culmination of the year-long behind-the-scenes effort of planning, buying and coordinating which is necessary to ensure its success. “This is such a rewarding experience for our volunteers, especially when they see the children’s smiling faces,” said co-chair Stacey Laken. “The Back 2 School Store gives children a great start to the school year and a little boost to their self-esteem in the process.”

This year the NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store is seeking 500 volunteers to make it a success. Bilingual volunteers are encouraged. All registration is online. To register, please visit www.ncjwessex.org and click on Back 2 School Store.

Make the discussion of gun safety a part of your life. It matters.

 The gun debate is exhausting and divisive. How many of us are sitting across the table from someone with opposing views and making any headway? Each of us has deeply held views on guns and no amount of debate is likely to change another person’s mind.

What if we push the issue forward on a community level by centering it on the burden of responsible gun ownership? Many parents across the country have already realized the importance of adding guns to the usual play date planning discussion that typically addresses allergies, dogs and swimming pools.

Let’s take the conversation beyond the play date. Informing a new babysitter, a cleaning service, a home health aide or house guests of the absence of a firearm or that you have firearms safely secured, has an enormous upside. By offering the information, you are modeling that people have a right to ask and a right to know.

Safe firearm storage has enormous implications. Almost 1.7 million children live in homes with unsecured firearms and more than 80 percent of suicides occur with a family member’s gun. Moreover, research estimates that roughly 200,000-400,000 guns are stolen each year.

Whether the discussion is among family members, friends or acquaintances, the topic of access to guns is often rife with conflict. Encouraging safe storage of firearms may be a smart place to start. It’s not necessarily an easy conversation, but taking it out of the shadows gives us a way to talk about gun owner responsibilities and may, hopefully, inch us forward.

The Center for Women Receives Block Grant from Essex County

The Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women

Receives Block Grant from Essex County

LIVINGSTON, NJ, March 22, 2018 – The Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women received a $9,678 block grant from the Essex County Department of Economic Development, Training and Employment, Division of Housing and Community Development.  The grant will go towards expanding the programs offered by the NCJW/Essex Center for Women, which have helped thousands of women with computer skills, job searches and personal guidance.

Pictured (l to r) are George Serio, Director at Essex County Division of Housing and Development, Armando B. Fontoura, Essex County Sheriff, Beverly Trust and Barbara Hauser, both of Livingston, NJ, Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., Essex County Executive, and Isabel Margolin of Montville. Trust, Hauser and Margolin are volunteer co-chairs of the NCJW/Essex Career Closet, which assists economically disadvantaged women in obtaining career attire appropriate for the workplace.  Sue Wasserman, Director of Community Services for NCJW/Essex commented, “We are very excited about the opportunities that this grant will give to the Center for Women and the various programs that fall under its umbrella.”

For more information about the Center for Women please visit www.centerforwomenNJ.org, or call (973) 994-4994. Programs are nonsectarian and open to all women, regardless of religion.

 

NCJW/Essex Dessert and Dialogue to Feature Jennifer Weiss-Wolf

“Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity”
NCJW/Essex Dessert and Dialogue to Feature

Jennifer Weiss-Wolf – Author, Activist, Social Justice Advocate

The National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) will present a special evening event, Dessert and Dialogue, featuring author Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, on the evening of April 25, 2018. The program will be held at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, 432 Scotland Road, South Orange, NJ, at 7:00 pm.

Jennifer Weiss-Wolf is a leader in the movement to make feminine hygiene products affordable, and accessible.  Her work to end the “tampon tax” and advocate for legislation that addresses the lack of menstrual equity in our communities has put her on the map as one of the nation’s “badass menstrual activists” by the publication Bustle. Menstrual equity is, in Weiss-Wolf’s opinion, a “gateway issue for feminism” and one that is intensely relatable by all women.

NCJW/Essex operates a community service project called “The Period.Project” which collects and distributes feminine hygiene supplies to local agencies and clients of its Center for Women. “Our community service work has shown us that more needs to be done to address the often overlooked issue of menstrual equity,” says Shari Harrison, President of NCJW/Essex. “We are thrilled to welcome Jennifer Weiss-Wolf to educate us and inspire us to continue engaging on this important issue.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Jennifer Weiss-Wolf. Writer, activist, social justice advocate, will be the speaker at an upcoming NCJW/Essex Dessert and Dialogue

Local Dentist Offers Services and New Beginnings NCJW/Essex Center for Women

Local Dentist Offers Services and New Beginnings for
Clients of the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women

 

Greg Scheier, DDS, of Scheier Dental Group in Millburn, NJ, knows that a smile goes a long way. He and his associate, Samantha Shapiro, DMD, have generously donated their services to help clients from the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women gain their confidence by obtaining dental work that they would otherwise be unable to afford.

“I wholeheartedly believe in kindness and giving back to the community and what better way to show that than by getting involved with NCJW/Essex,” said Dr. Scheier. Last spring he was introduced to Patty Kremen, Career Services Manager at the NCJW/Essex Center for Women, which helps women in transition who may be looking for a new job, starting a business or recovering from a loss. “I learned about the life-changing work that is happening at the Center for Women and it is very much aligned with causes I believe in,” explained Dr. Scheier. “These are women who, for one reason or another, have come upon difficult times and I am thrilled to be able to help them make such a major, positive difference in their lives.”

Dr. Scheier and Dr. Shapiro have provided a variety of dental work for clients including routine dental exams, cleanings, x-rays, root canals, fillings and veneers, valued at over $20,000. “It’s a good feeling to know that what we can offer can make such a difference in someone’s life,” reflects Dr. Scheier. “Everyone on our staff feels good about making such a positive impact on the lives of these women.” As Dr. Scheier looks ahead, he anticipates expanding his pro bono work to continue to help clients of the NCJW/Essex Center for Women.

“Our clients cannot always afford costly but necessary dental work and will often put other expenses first, such as electric bills and food for their families,” explains Ms. Kremen. “Our clients who have benefitted from Dr. Scheier’s generosity have brighter smiles and greater confidence, which impacts their ability to obtain jobs. We know when we send our clients to the Scheier Dental Group they will be treated with the utmost respect and their dental care will be of the highest quality. It is an extraordinary partnership.”

The NCJW/Essex Center for Women offers many types of support programs for women in transition including career services, a Career Closet, computer training and self-empowerment programs. The experienced and knowledgeable staff helps create a personalized program that fits each woman’s individual needs, providing a safe place to go for help and support as their lives continue to change and improve.

For more information about the NCJW/Essex Center for Women, all (973) 994-4994 or visit our website, www.centerforwomennj.org.

PHOTO CAPTION: Samantha Shapiro, DMD (left) and Greg Scheier, DDS, of Scheier Dental Group in Millburn, NJ, got involved with NCJW/Essex because they believe in giving back to the community.

NCJW/Essex Lunch and Learn Featuring Jay Lassiter

NCJW/Essex Lunch and Learn

Featuring Jay Lassiter

~ Opioids in New Jersey: A Tragic Reality ~

NCJW/Essex is sponsoring a Lunch and Learn – Opioids in New Jersey, a Tragic Reality– featuring Jay Lassiter, writer, political consultant, and social justice advocate, and the host/author of the podcast “Heroin Uncut.” The program will take place on Thursday, April 19, 2018, from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, NJ.

A database of opioid deaths in New Jersey found that at least 1,900 people died in 2016 from opioid overdoses in a crisis that has blanketed the state. Lassiter will offer a blunt, honest exploration of how opioids have tightened their grip on New Jersey and what can be done about it.  “Everyone talks about the opioid crisis getting more and more out of control, but too few really understand how we got to this point in the first place,” says Shari Harrison, President of NCJW/Essex. “This program will address the conditions that allowed the opioid problem to take hold and the legislative and community-based actions that are needed to address the problem.”

Throughout the year, NCJW/Essex Lunch and Learn programs provide an opportunity to hear interesting speakers in an informal setting. Pre-registration is required. The fee is $20 for members, $25 for nonmembers, and includes a buffet lunch. To register, please call (973) 740-0588 or visit www.ncjwessex.org.

PHOTO CAPTION: Jay Lassiter. Writer, political consultant and social justice advocate, will be the speaker at the upcoming NCJW/Essex Lunch and Learn, Opioids in NJ: A Tragic Reality.

The Path to Success Can Be Bumpy

 

careertransitionslider

Recently one of my clients was offered a new position, earning double the salary of her previous job. As she shared the exciting news with me, I asked her a few questions and, to be frank, her answers surprised me. She is a single mom of three young children and her new job required her to work a late shift (11 pm – 7 am) and weekends. I couldn’t see how this was going to work out. We discussed the pros and cons of the job and she decided it was worth pursuing because of the salary increase.

Less than two weeks later it became apparent that the shifts were too much for her and her family to manage. Feeling stuck and uncertain, she left the position. In panic mode, she returned to the NCJW/Essex Center for Women where we were able to help get her back on track, provide career coaching, self-empowerment workshops, job clubs, networking and support.

Finding the right job to fit your life and its demands is no simple task. Sometimes it takes trial and error to find a work environment that is a good match, but along the way it can feel hopeless and demoralizing. The Center for Women serves as so much more than a “job placement” center. Women who seek our help not only learn new skills to help them find jobs but learn how to take control of their own lives and gain the confidence to be successful.

At the Center for Women, we help you every step of the way. Our clients know that we are there for them, they can come back to us and we give them hope. My client now has faith that the next job she finds will be the right job because she has a better understanding of what she needs and wants and how to go about finding it. The path to finding a job may be bumpy, but with skills and guidance it can lead to success.

We Are Here to Help

The dedicated group of professional staff members and trained volunteers at the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women assists women who wish to return to the workforce with resume writing, job coaching, interview skills training, LinkedIn and computer classes. Our services are confidential and our programs are non-sectarian and open to all women, regardless of religion. Contact us. We can help.

Visit our website: www.centerforwomenNJ.org

Call: (973) 994-4994

Email: centerforwomen@ncjwessex.org