Make Every Woman’s Voice Count!

This has been the year of women’s voices. If we’ve learned anything from the #MeToo movement and the onslaught of news, it’s that not only should we be listening to women but we should heed their call.

In so many arenas, women’s voices are rising up – from fighting sexual assault and harassment, to getting engaged in politics; from demanding equal pay for equal work to advocating for menstrual equity. The list goes on.

So this year we hope to amplify those voices and provide ways for NCJW/Essex to give life to their messages. Whether it is the struggling woman who shows up at the Center for Women, diminished from her life’s circumstances, or the volunteer who has seen first-hand how she was able to help a child at the Back 2 School Store, each narrative is worth listening to.

Our NCJW/Essex Opening Event, kicking off our year-long activities that begin in the fall, celebrates this theme. #WomensVoices: Adventures in Life, Love & Writing will feature the acclaimed author, Jennifer Weiner (Oct 23). Weiner, who has a wide fan base, uses her social media platform to encourage women’s voices, self-esteem, reproductive justice, sex education and body positivity. Soon to follow is a special Lunch and Learn, #MeToo: What’s Next? (Nov 7). According to a national study on sexual assault and harassment conducted earlier this year, 81 percent of women have experienced sexual assault or harassment in their lifetimes. This program will feature a panel of experts discussing the #MeToo movement which has ignited a revolution of women’s voices. How did we get here and how do we move forward?

Women’s voices are caring. Women’s voices are strong. Women’s voices are daring. As we confront today’s most urgent social and economic challenges facing society, let’s make sure that every woman’s voice is heard. We encourage you to join the conversation: speak up, speak out and share your message to improve the lives of women, children and families. And watch for our Special Gifts mailing to see how you can help make every woman’s voice count. Together we can make a meaningful difference in the world.

Election Day is November 6th!

And this is no ordinary midterm election. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested. Not only will the balance of power in both houses of Congress be decided, but many state legislatures and governorships are also up for grabs.

Yet many people will still sit out the midterm elections. According to the Pew Research Center, America has some of the lowest voter turnout in the developing world. For every 10 Americans, only six turn out to vote – even though recent elections in the U.S. have been decided by just hundreds of votes. [link]

That is why the swing voter in November will not be a Republican or a Democrat. It will be a non-voter who chooses to vote in 2018. At NCJW/Essex we have launched a Get Out the Vote campaign to combat the two biggest reasons people have for not voting.

I am not registered.

To register to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen, have resided at your present address for at least 30 days, and be at least 17 years of age. New this year: You can now register to vote at 17, with the understanding that you cannot actually vote until you turn 18. Know a high school senior or a recent graduate? Make sure he or she is registered! If you have recently changed your name or address, you must also re-register. Check to see if you are registered or get a registration form at www.elections.nj.gov. Voter Registrations must be postmarked by October 16, 2018.

I will be away — or won’t be able to get to the polls — on November 6.

The good news is that anyone can now Vote By Mail. You no longer need a reason. Registered voters who don’t want to, or can’t, go to the polls must apply for a Vote by Mail ballot. The application is available online at www.elections.nj.gov, at your County Clerk’s office or here at NCJW/Essex. Your application for a Vote By Mail Ballot must arrive in your County Clerk’s office by October 30, 2018, or you can apply in person before 3 p.m. on November 5, 2018.

Our grassroots campaign relies on our volunteers to help flip non-voters to voters. For a letter that you can email to friends and family with important voter information, please contact Stephanie Abrahams, sabrahams@ncjwessex.org or call (973) 488-0054.

Your vote is your voice. Make sure yours is heard!

E2E Helps Women Overcome Obstacles

Recently a new client arrived for an appointment at the NCJW/Essex Center for Women. She was college educated with a degree in nursing. She was also recently divorced, financially strapped and trying to make ends meet by working at a hardware store for $11 an hour. She had come seeking career counseling and support.

“Why aren’t you working as a nurse?” inquired Kathy Murphy, a Case Manager at the Center for Women. The woman explained that she could not afford to pay to have her nursing license renewed, a necessary requirement to be able to practice nursing in New Jersey. The client looked up in amazement when Kathy responded, “Guess what? We can pay for your license renewal and the fees associated with it.”

Helping women get past obstacles, such as licensing fees and/or taking a certification class, is the goal of E2E, one of the many programs offered by the Center for Women. E2E, short for Education 2 Empowerment, is funded through a generous grant from the NJ Department of Children and Families, Division on Women. The goal of E2E is to help women who have gone through divorce, separation or widowhood to improve their chances of re-entering the workforce with the assistance of additional education. Center for Women clients have taken certification courses in a variety of areas including Project Management, Certified Health Aide, Quickbooks, and Personal Training/Yoga. The ultimate goal of E2E is to help women become self-sufficient and able to provide for their families.

Our new client left the office feeling hopeful and relieved. She also left with a gas card, Shoprite gift card and food from Patty’s Pantry. The Center for Women set her on the right path to enable her to return to the workforce in her skilled profession. If you are looking to obtain new skills to enter or re-enter the workforce, the NCJW/Essex Center for Women is here to help. E2E is just one of many programs offered to help women on the road to self-empowerment.

 

Interested in learning more? Visit www.centerforwomennj.org or call (973) 994-4994 for more information.

10th Anniversary Smiles! Over 850 Children at Back 2 School Store

10th Anniversary Smiles!

Over 850 Children Shop Cost-Free at the NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store

LIVINGSTON, NJ, August 9, 2018– The 10th Annual NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store (B2SS) brought grins all around on Sunday, July 29th as hundreds of children went shopping at a one-day pop-up store designed to help economically disadvantaged children in Essex County, NJ.

“I love my new backpack and I got to pick it out myself!” exclaimed one little girl to her mother as she emerged from the store with a bag brimming with back-to-school items. Inside the gym, walls were lined with coats, rows of brand new sneakers, and racks and racks of clothing. This year NCJW/Essex celebrated its 10th anniversary of the B2SS with its largest event to date, outfitting 860 children with the help of nearly 550 volunteers. The children shopped for brand new clothing, school supplies and personal care items, encouraging a well-equipped and confident start to the new school year.

The day kicked off with a ribbon cutting ceremony for dignitaries and supporters of the store led by Summit resident Lesley Greenstein, NCJW/Essex President. B2SS co-chairs Andrea Mintz and Stacey Laken of Livingston, and Karen Cherins of West Orange, joined with dignitaries to cut the ribbon. What followed was a long line of excited children, eager to enter and pick out brand new pants, shirts, winter coats, sneakers, gloves, socks, undergarments and hats, as well as personal care items, school supplies and brand new books. The children, referred by over 30 social service agencies, were each greeted by a personal shopper who led them on their shopping excursion. This year’s event was held at Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, NJ.

While the children shopped, parents and guardians visited the onsite Gaelen Family Resource Center. Lining the walls were organizations such as Advocates for Children NJ, the Essex County Family Justice Center, KinderSmile Foundation, the NCJW/Essex Center for Women, Planned Parenthood of Metro NJ, and the Rachel Coalition along with University Hospital which offered free health screenings and health information.

The cost of school supplies is often overlooked as a major annual expense. Families that are living in poverty struggle with the rising cost demands of public education. In Essex County alone, 24% of households with children lived below the poverty level in 2015. NCJW/Essex believes that no child should start off the school year already behind, and has put together the B2SS for the past ten years to meet this need.

“This place is so cool!” said an 8-year-old boy trying on some trendy sneakers. “Beautiful!” exclaimed a 5-year-old girl as she struck a pose in the mirror with a hot pink coat trimmed with faux fur. The day was summed up by one volunteer personal shopper who said, “The whole experience of interacting with the kids, seeing so many volunteers hard at work and the positive environment that is created is simply extraordinary.”

Ranging from college students to grandparents, the passion each volunteer brought was undeniably visible through the broad smiles of hundreds of children who filled the store. With three shifts throughout the day, volunteers underwent specific training on how to optimize the shopping experience for each child. From picking out pens and calculators to help finding jeans with the perfect fit, the personal shoppers guided and encouraged each child through every step.

Each year the Back 2 School Store is supported by grants and generous financial contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations, enabling the children to “shop” cost-free but leave with million-dollar smiles!

In Search of a New Job? Positivity Goes a Long Way!

When you’re engaged in a job search, it’s important to focus on yourself physically, mentally and emotionally to help maintain self-confidence and self-esteem. When things don’t always go your way or in the time frame you’ve set for yourself, it is easy to slip into negative thoughts. Here are some tips to help you maintain your positivity during your job search:

  • Don’t Do it Alone
    Seek out local organizations and groups specifically designed for job search networking and support. Even if you can’t find an actual group in your area, identify a “job search partner” with whom you can create an accountability and support system.
  • Volunteer
    Research has shown that doing volunteer work has a positive impact on health, self-esteem and general well being. If you are a volunteer or have been involved in your community, consider finding new areas of interest for volunteering or perhaps take on a bigger role. Interaction with people in different environments can help reinforce the diversity of your skills and increase your self-confidence.
  • Keep Things In Perspective
    Remember that being qualified for a job is only one variable in a job search. There are always other candidates, organizational politics and even timing that factor in and can greatly influence a hiring decision.
  • Practice Self Care
    It has been proven over and over that eating well along with regular exercise help to maintain energy levels, positive self-image, and physical health, while having the added benefit of staving off symptoms of depression and anxiety. Maintaining a positive self-image is critical during a job search. Create the conditions to put your best foot forward every time you meet with a prospective employer or make a networking contact.
  • Practice Gratitude
    Keep a gratitude notebook. Taking five minutes out of each day to write in a journal about the things you are grateful for can go a very long way in shifting attention away from negative thoughts and help you focus on the more positive aspects of your life. This can help you experience a greater sense of wellbeing and joy.
  • Acknowledge Yourself
    Often we define ourselves only by what we do for money. But everyone is more than just an employee – you may be a terrific parent, dedicated volunteer or loyal friend. Spend time with people who remind you that you are valued. Their positive feedback will reflect your value as an individual, not just as an employee who is currently between jobs.
  • Practice Positive Self-Talk
    It’s easy to journey into negative thinking patterns when your job search doesn’t go as planned. Become aware of these patterns so that you can avoid dwelling in a sea of self-pity. Now is a perfect time to shift your pattern and begin practicing “positive self-talk.” Acknowledge your accomplishments, your resiliency, and your commitment to finding the path forward.

Career Closet Recipient of Handbag Trade-in Days from Brighton Collectibles

NCJW/Essex Career Closet is the Recipient of

Handbag Trade-In Days from Brighton Collectibles at the Mall at Short Hills

 

LIVINGSTON, NJ, July 26, 2018 – The Career Closet, a program of the Linda and Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women, was the recipient of a special trade-in event at the fashion accessories store Brighton Collectibles that took place from July 13th to 22nd. This is the seventh year the Brighton Collectibles store at the Mall at Short Hills participated in this event with the Career Closet being the recipient.

“Brighton is to be commended for its support of women entering the workforce who are faced with the financial challenge of having interview and work appropriate clothing,” said Beverly Trust, co-chair of the Career Closet. “This is really a wonderful thing for the NCJW/Essex Career Closet.”

Brighton offered $25 – $50 off new handbags when buyers traded in their own gently-used handbags. The gently-used handbags were then donated to the Career Closet. This year the Career Closet received 75 handbags from the annual 10-day event.

Volunteers at the NCJW/Essex Career Closet, located in Livingston, NJ, serve as personal shoppers to assist women in obtaining career attire and accessories appropriate for the workplace. Women are referred by the NCJW/Essex Center for Women and other social service agencies and receive coordinating clothing and accessories appropriate for interviewing and the workplace at no cost. The objective is to help women enter an interview or begin a new job with confidence. The Career Closet is open to clients by appointment only.

Mary Ricciuto, Store Manager at Brighton Collectibles in Short Hills, explained that throughout the year Brighton For Good partners with organizations at both the local and national level to give back to communities in a variety of ways. “By donating a gently used handbag at the Handbag Trade-In event, a woman in need is given a small luxury that others may take for granted,” she said. “Both Brighton Collectibles and the NCJW/Essex Career Closet benefit from this wonderful collaboration.”

Addressing Unmet Needs Through the Gaelen Family Resource Center

The smiling faces of children at the Back 2 School Store never fail to capture our hearts. But what sometimes gets overshadowed in the excitement and bustle of the day is one very special aspect of the Back 2 School Store — the Gaelen Family Resource Center.

Audrey Gaelen
Audrey Gaelen

While children are busy in the Back 2 School Store “shopping” for free to select brand new clothing, sneakers, school supplies, backpacks and personal care items with the help of volunteer personal shoppers, the Gaelen Family Resource Center (GFRC) provides an opportunity for parents, caregivers and families to receive important health screenings, health information and community resources, all at no cost. With the growth of the Back 2 School Store, the GFRC has also grown as NCJW/Essex has increased its partnerships with numerous service providers and community organizations which are on-site on the day of the event.

NCJW/Essex is grateful to Audrey Gaelen and her late husband, Norbert, whose generosity sustains this critical component of the Back 2 School Store. “We spearheaded the GFRC as a way of giving parents and caregivers attending the Back 2 School Store an opportunity to receive services that aren’t always readily available to them,” explains Audrey Gaelen, a long-time member and supporter of NCJW/Essex. “It answers some of the needs that may not otherwise get addressed.” On occasion, the availability of such screenings leads to the detection of health problems that necessitate attention, and in those cases attendees are connected with health care providers for follow up.

“It makes me feel good to know that I am touching the community,” reflects Audrey on the evolution of the GFRC. “When I walk in I want to cry. I can see and feel the difference it is making.”

Lesley Greenstein of Summit NJ, Assumes Presidency of NCJW/Essex

Lesley Greenstein of Summit, NJ, Assumes Presidency of NCJW/Essex

Lesley Greenstein of Summit, NJ, was installed as President of the National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) at the organization’s annual Installation and Awards Evening at Cedar Hill Country Club in Livingston. She assumes her role effective July 1, 2018.

A natural and resourceful leader, Greenstein has a long history with NCJW in numerous capacities and is committed to the goal of making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. In her role as president, she aims to strengthen fund development to support the organization’s advocacy efforts and the ever growing programs at the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women that better the lives of women, children and families.

Passing the gavel to her at the installation was her mother, Ruth Cohen of South Orange, NJ, a long-time member of NCJW.  “Lesley opened her heart to NCJW and has emerged as a leader,” remarked Cohen in her introduction. “She inspires confidence working with others.” Outgoing president Shari Harrison, who has served two years at the helm of the organization, said of Ms. Greenstein, “I know in passing the gavel to Lesley, NCJW/Essex will be in very capable hands.”

Greenstein, who has a degree in elementary education from George Washington University, noted that she has learned that pioneers can be any age – from teenagers to grandmothers – if something matters enough. “The pioneers of NCJW/Essex are exceptional,” she remarked. “They have been responsible for the start and implementation of amazing programs that provide women with the impetus to move forward by taking care of themselves and their families. I believe the passionate and smart volunteers of NCJW can accomplish just about anything they put their hearts and minds to.”