If you have a passion for the news and are looking to do
direct volunteer service, the NCJW/Essex Current Events program, in partnership
with local independent living residences, is a sure fit. Volunteers facilitate
groups of senior citizens in engaging and timely discussions of local, national
and world events.
I expressed my interest, went to one of the groups as an observer and I was hooked! In the last two years I’ve facilitated groups with all types of volunteers, both men and women. The common denominator is our desire to bring newsy discussions to people who sometimes aren’t heard or listened to on the topics of the day.
I found out quite quickly that seniors have strong opinions
and want to express them. The role of facilitator is to set an open, honest and
respectful tone and try and give everyone a chance to speak. We don’t share our personal opinions, but
rather keep the discussion moving and suggest topics should the conversation
What happens in a typical hour-long group? I usually have a
list of topics on my phone along with an ending joke or funny story…always a
hit! We work in groups of two
facilitators each week; some facilitators work with notes, others bring
clippings from newspapers. We begin by asking, “What would you like to talk
about today?” and then it’s off to the races!
There are people of differing political persuasions in every
group. We’ve spent hours talking about
the state of the presidency, the #MeToo movement, moving the American Embassy
to Jerusalem, the North Korea summits, climate change, local elections,
self-driving cars and other tech innovations…the list goes on and on.
We’re always looking for additional facilitators.
You don’t need to have any experience with seniors, just a desire to lighten up
their day with a lively discussion. Make that first call and join the Current
Events team! Email email@example.com.
A new lipstick, a fresh journal and a lovely scented lotion – these may be items that you treat yourself to regularly, but for women in economic need, these are luxuries that may be out of reach. Volunteers at our most recent Mitzvah-in-a-Minute event decided to change that story. With the help of some generous donations, NCJW/Essex volunteers created dozens of “Take Time for You” gift bags filled with cosmetics, hair care products and other little luxuries that were presented to NCJW/Essex Center for Women clients throughout the month of May.
The gift bags are just one example of the way NCJW/Essex touches the lives of local women, children and families in economic need. The Mitzvah-in-a-Minute program is a series of community service projects planned throughout the year that can all be done in under two hours.
One of our newer projects is creating “Period Ready Kits” in partnership with the NCJW/Essex Period.Project. Volunteers fill cosmetic bags with sanitary pads, travel deodorant and lip balm. The bags are given to school nurses for distribution to middle school girls in need.
A favorite morning for many volunteers is chopping and
slicing vegetables for freezer-ready meals as part of Mitzvah-in-a-Minute “Fill-the-Freezer.” Center for Women clients
are so grateful to receive trays of homemade lasagna, burritos, soups and other
hearty dishes that they can serve to their families.
Involving your children in community service is easy with Family
Mitzvah-in-a-Minute events. At these fun, child-centered events, children
hear from local agencies about why their time and service are important and how
the packages they are assembling help the community.
If you have two hours, you can make a difference! To learn more about volunteering, organizing or hosting a Mitzvah-in-a-Minute, please contact Dina Stambler, Director of Volunteer Outreach and Membership at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the dinnertime discussion in your household is what you should have for dinner or where you should order it from, it might
be hard to imagine that in New Jersey, 1 in 10 persons and 1 in 7 children live
in households where there is no regular access to enough food to live healthy
and active lives. Often people are forced to choose between paying rent and
buying food, leaving little or no money to buy nutritious food to feed their
To combat what has become known as “food insecurity,” NCJW/Essex
is trying to do its part to help. Career Services Manager Patty Kremen started an
informal “food bank” known as Patty’s Pantry where she discreetly offers clients
at the NCJW/Essex Center for Women food and gift cards to help them feed their families
for several weeks at a time. Any food that is collected that Patty’s Pantry
cannot use due to space restrictions is donated
to Christine’s Kitchen, a food pantry in West Orange.
A dedicated team of amazing volunteers has been active as
well! In March a kick-off Pack the Pantry
committee meeting was well-attended. Participants were asked to be responsible
for a two-week collection period during which they would solicit direct food
donations as well as supermarket gift cards in $5 and $10 denominations. Many
of the women chose to honor their birthday weeks to do the collection. During
the meeting we brainstormed and came up with some terrific ideas as to how to
get the word out about the needs of our Center for Women clients. This year we
hope to hold a “mitzvah” event as well as to develop a process where we can
solicit stores (other than supermarkets) that sell food.
The Pack the Pantry committee needs your help! In addition to direct donations that can be brought to the office during regular meetings or NCJW/Essex office hours, we are looking for ambassadors to help us at outside NCJW/Essex sponsored events. If you would like to learn more about how you can help or if you would like to join our committee, please email Dina Stambler, Director of Membership and Volunteer Outreach. We greatly appreciate your support—no matter how big or small.
We at NCJW/Essex are outraged and heartbroken that we marked the six-month anniversary of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, in which 11 people lost their lives, with yet another shooting — this time at Chabad of Poway, California.
While it should be that horrific acts of hatred like these are unimaginable, unfortunately we can imagine them all too well. Hate crimes have surged at an alarming rate. Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. alone rose 60% in 2017. Those who lost their lives were simply worshipping, celebrating mitzvahs, standing with family.
As we have seen in Pittsburgh, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, hatred and access to guns leads to tragedy.
We cannot stand idly by and merely mourn. Our anger leads us to act now.
Please urge Congress to support the immediate passage of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (S. 2148/H.R.4918) to address the growing threat of white supremacist groups and other violent domestic extremists.
And ask Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to schedule a vote on the Enhanced Background Checks Act (S.42), already passed by the House.
Let us make the unimaginable truly unimaginable once again.
The Period.Project’s Time of the Month initiative is up and running! Each month one volunteer or group of volunteers serves as an ambassador for the Period.Project by identifying an agency of their choice, collecting feminine hygiene products and delivering them to women in need. Thank you to the many NCJW/Essex volunteers who have stepped up and taken the lead.
To date, more than 10,000 feminine hygiene products have
been collected and distributed. Period.Project members are proud not just of
the many boxes of product, but what they represent: the ability to help women
go to school or work; the knowledge women can provide for their families; and
the dignity of each woman we help.
committee members have also been advocating for A3868/S3645, a state bill that
requires school districts to provide feminine hygiene products in public
schools where a certain percentage of students fall below the poverty line.
Thanks to the committee’s efforts, the bill is now in committee in both the
Assembly and Senate, and legislators are signing on as co-sponsors! Look for a
future “Call to Action” once the bills are out of committee.
It is a
thrilling time to be part of the Menstrual Equity movement. Queens, NY
Congresswoman Grace Meng recently introduced
the Menstrual Equity for All Act, the
first comprehensive bill to address the different challenges that women and
girls face in affording and accessing menstrual hygiene products.
Together we are working to correct inequity and allow all women to maintain
their dignity and self-respect.
To help with
advocacy efforts, email Stephanie Abrahams, Director of Advocacy and Community
Engagement, at email@example.com.