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.

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.

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.”

Over 55 and Back in the Game

Imagine losing a well-paying job after almost 28 years, being single and over 55. I recently had a client at the Center for Women in this very situation – while on the path to retirement planning, she was suddenly knocked for a loop, leaving her with no income, no Image for over 55health care benefits, no job security and no idea how to secure new employment in the digital age.

There is now an abundance of older workers without adequate retirement income who need to find jobs. The labor market is tight, however, and wages for workers over 55 are actually declining. Those lucky enough to find employment are working more, earning less and even accepting pay cuts.

The Path Forward
We see this scenario at the Center for Women all too often, and the result is a loss of confidence, uncertainty about the path forward and what the future might hold. One woman who recently came for help was out of work for almost a year, feeling scared and alone. Having been told that she was too old, her mental state was at its lowest point and she needed help.

Coming to NCJW/Essex Center for Women turned her life around. She immediately took advantage of all the services provided including self-empowerment workshops, job clubs, computer classes, LinkedIn training and career counseling. She even had a visit to the NCJW/Essex Career Closet where volunteers helped to dress her in well-fitted, figure-flattering business attire to give her the added confidence to re-enter the workforce.

A Winning Experience
Armed with the benefit of these services and one-on-one career coaching, she felt empowered and eagerly applied for jobs in her field.  She immediately received positive responses and interviews, landing not one, but two great jobs in less than six months. With the help of the Center, she honed her negotiating skills and evaluated the pros and cons of both offers to select the job that was most appropriate for her at this point in her life.

The job search process is daunting. Being over 55 and losing a job adds to the challenge, but with the skills, guidance and support from the NCJW/Essex Center for Women it can prove to be a winning experience that ultimately puts you at the top of your game. The programs, workshops and technology training can help boost morale and provide the skills needed in a competitive job market.

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

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 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

 

Activism is a Family Affair

little voterIn recent years, many of us have become more engaged in community affairs and the political process. We have learned who represents us in Congress and maybe even attended a town council meeting. We have called our elected officials, spoken up on social media or possibly attended a rally. The underlying lesson that has emerged is that our voices should be heard, our opinions are worth sharing and our votes matter.

How can we share this lesson in activism with children and teens so they know, at an early age, that their voices count too? It’s not always convenient to include children and teens in our activism. Meetings and activities might take place during school hours or in the evenings while children are otherwise occupied. These circumstances may preclude including our children in the process and so we forge ahead on our own or with friends, leaving our children behind.

Instead, we should look at activism as an opportunity to educate our children and show them that we are fighting for the issues we believe will make their lives and the lives of others better. When it is age and subject appropriate, have your children and teens accompany you to rallies and town council meetings. Make calls to legislators with your children in earshot. An added bonus of engaging our children in advocacy is the chance to model respectful assertive behavior as opposed to divisive tirades.

What is the appropriate age to engage your children and teens? That’s a decision based on what you think your children can handle without adding undue anxiety to their lives. Some issues lend themselves to youth engagement better than others, such as the environment or food insecurity.

We have the opportunity to raise a generation that understands that speaking up is just something we do because it’s the right thing to do. Let’s not squander it by leaving them behind.

 

New Year – New Volunteer!

volunteerIt’s 2018 and time to take stock. What did you resolve to do differently this year? Exercise more? Learn a new skill or hobby? Eat less sugar?  Maybe you will join a gym, sign up for a class or buy a new diet book.

But maybe your resolutions are different this year.  Perhaps you’re considering how to make your time count and be purposeful in your life. Or, maybe you’re taking stock of the time you spend with others. If so, consider volunteering as a way to help keep your resolutions. As a volunteer, you can discover new avenues to meet people and focus the coming year on things you care about.

Whether its hours, days or weeks that you volunteer, you start to feel the impact of the time you spend helping others.  At NCJW/Essex you might help a client select an interview outfit at the Career Closet, cook meals for families in need, collect feminine hygiene products for economically disadvantaged women or be present on the other end of the phone when a woman calls because she doesn’t know where to turn. When you help a woman in transition you feel the value of your time.

Volunteering is engaging and helps you meet interesting, community-minded people. Everyone gets involved for different reasons: to attend a rally about gun safety, to teach teens about dating abuse or to lead a self-esteem workshop to help women change the way they feel about themselves… and the list goes on. At NCJW/Essex, volunteers include a rich diversity of people who share a like-minded goal – to make an impact on their communities.

Volunteering is a resolution that you can keep in 2018! It’s a resolution that will open your eyes and your hearts to people who value your time. It’s a resolution that will introduce you to new friends to involve in your life. If you want to explore volunteer opportunities with NCJW/Essex, please contact me at dstambler@ncjwessex.org. Even if it’s on a small scale, it can make an extraordinary difference in a single life.

Are You Ready To Go Back To Work?

Job readyThe Job Market is Hot!

Have you been thinking about entering or returning to the workforce? If the answer is yes, then now is one of the best times to find your next job. Some of our clients at the Center for Women have been out of the work force for over 10 years and have recently found success in this candidate-driven job market.

Are You Job-Ready?

Many women make the assumption that returning to work means doing the same thing that they did before. Some repositioning is inevitable if you’ve been out of the workforce for a year or more, but it is also a perfect time to reposition yourself for something new.

The first step to job-readiness is to figure out which of your skills are transferable and which ones you need to develop. Then, take some practical steps to be ready when a job opportunity comes along:

  • Break out your old resume to review some of the key responsibilities you have held and see how those skills have held up in the current marketplace
  • Add your volunteer experience to your resume
  • Spread the word that you want to enter or reenter the workforce — networking will help you find the hidden job openings
  • Practice interviewing so you are prepared. Rehearse the questions you know you will get – i.e. “I see you haven’t worked in a while” or “Why is this the best time for you to be looking for a job?” Determine your strengths and weaknesses so employers see you as job-ready.
  • Be ready to act – Do you have the right interview clothes? Do you have a plan for someone to watch your children, or pick up your kids at school?

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