Beating Back Food Insecurity

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 families.

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.

Anti-Semitism Calls on Us to Act NOW!

Anti Semitism image

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.

Senator Cory Booker: www.booker.senate.gov
Senator Robert Menendez: www.menendez.senate.gov
Senator Mitch McConnell: www.mcconnell.senate.gov
Congressional Representatives: www.house.gov

Fighting for Menstrual Equity

Time of the Month ambassadors have successfully led collections for community organizations in need.

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.

Period.Project 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 sabrahams@ncjwessex.org.

Carpool Conversations: Things You Want To Talk To Your Kids About But Don’t Know How

Carpool Conversations Logo

It’s no secret among parents that talking to children about sensitive topics is never easy. Most of us don’t even know where to begin, and it’s become even more challenging in a world dominated by social media. To help parents navigate difficult conversations, NCJW/Essexis launching Carpool Conversations, a project developed in the aftermath of our sold-out production of SLUT The Play.

SLUT depicted the sexual assault of a high school girl by her male friendsand helped to shine a spotlight on critical issues like consent, sexism and sexual violence. The production sparked a flurry of dialogue among attendees about how to parent in a world filled with the realities presented by the play. Parents in the community were looking to do something to protect their children. 

NCJW/Essex heard these concerns and undertook extensive research into how to reach children before they faced the issues raised in SLUT, and thereby begin to unravel a culture in which these issues are all too commonplace. Carpool Conversations was developed to give parents of children in grades 4 through 7 tools for talking to children, allowing them to grow up to be strong, kind and safe.

Our upcoming April 4 introductory event will feature a panel of professionals specializing in working with this age group and experienced in dealing with hot-button issues like posting on social media, body image, sexting, internet pornography and gender expectations, among others. The panel will help attendees identify their own biases and explore various approaches to the types of conversations we know we need to have with young people in order to impact change.  Professionally-led smaller group discussions with a focus on specific topics will follow throughout the spring.

For more information about NCJW/Essex Carpool Conversations, please contact Stephanie Abrahams, NCJW/Essex Director of Advocacy, sabrahams@ncjwesssex.org, 973-488-0054.

Women: Philanthropic Standard Bearers

Giving

Did you know that women are increasingly the nation’s powerhouse in charitable giving? It’s true. Increasingly, we have the resources: it is expected that within a few years, we will control two-thirds of all private wealth in the United States! And studies indicate that as our income rises, we become more likely to give to charity than our male counterparts.

Here at NCJW/Essex, we have benefited from women’s generosity for decades. Today, many members make year-end Special Gifts, significant one-time or multi-year gifts, or bequests in their wills to leave an enduring legacy. This support helps NCJW/Essex to serve women and children in Essex County and beyond.

But few, if any, donors have made gifts to NCJW/Essex out of the blue. Giving most often happens as a result of trust, familiarity, and concrete opportunities to match philanthropic impulses to personal passion.

And that is what the term development really means. We don’t chase dollars. We develop and sustain authentic, multifaceted relationships that often lead our members and friends to “give until it feels good.”

It is a privilege to have joined this amazing organization as Director of Development and to interact with our powerful leaders, members, and staff every day. There are many ways to support NCJW/Essex. I look forward to exploring them with you in the months ahead.

To learn more about ways to support NCJW/Essex, contact Jane Savitt Tennen, Director of Development, at (973) 488-0049 or jtennen@ncjwessex.org.

Easing Back Into Your Job Search in the New Year

In late November and December, job seekers may find themselves focused on holiday shopping, parties, travel, and entertaining rather than finding a new job. Likewise, late in the year employers may be focused on year end results, budget planning, and performance reviews, putting recruitment and open positions on the back burner. Once January rolls around, it is a great time to ease back into taking productive steps to achieve your professional goals.

If you are considering a job change, use your New Year’s resolutions to clarify your vision and values for the year, and incorporate those into your job search. Taking the time to revisit your personal vision and values and determine what brings you joy, what you’re great at, what pays your bills, and what contributes to your personal identity will allow you to determine where to focus your job search and land a position where you can thrive. Do you desire a career change or advancement in your current career? Are you dreaming of a move to another location, a simpler lifestyle, or furthering your education? How do these hopes and dreams translate into the type of position you are seeking?

Once you’ve achieved a focus that feels right, the following strategies are time-tested and effective:

  • Share that you are actively searching for a job with friends and family in order to get the word out.
  • Keep an open mind and conduct informational interviews to gather as much information as possible and leave yourself open to new possibilities.
  • Use online resources such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and others; set up job alerts through these sites.
  • Brush up on your interview skills and polish up your resume.
  • Focus on building up your self-confidence, self-esteem, and communication skills.

A new year, a new you, and your energy and enthusiasm will go a long way in making your professional dreams a reality!

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

 

Will New Jersey Be a National Model For Gun Safety?

The recent shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California have more in common than the senseless loss of life at the hands of a mad man.

Both shooters had an arsenal of weapons. Both obtained their guns legally. And neither fell into any category barred from gun ownership under federal law, including felons, convicted domestic abusers, dishonorably disch­arged veterans, and the mentally ill.

So tighter gun-control measures won’t work, right?

It is an argument frequently cited by gun rights advocates: Some mass shooters get their guns legally, therefore stronger gun laws are futile. But gun violence is a complicated puzzle. Fewer than 1 percent of homicide victims are killed in incidents where four or more people died. And even when you include mass shootings, the majority of gun deaths in the U.S. aren’t homicides. Two-thirds of the more than 33,000 gun deaths that take place in America each year are suicides.

Yet, according to multiple studies*, there is a clear correlation between strict gun legislation and lower gun violence rates. We are lucky to live in New Jersey, which has some of the strongest gun control legislation in the country and — not coincidently — the sixth-lowest number of gun deaths per capita and the lowest gun exports to other states.

Last spring, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law seven historic gun violence prevention bills that reduced magazine capacity, banned armor-piercing bullets and expanded background checks on private gun sales. In October, New Jersey passed a law that banned 3-D printable guns and “ghost guns” – those without serial numbers.

Now the administration wants to move quickly on what Murphy is calling his “gun safety package 2.0”. Murphy wants to tackle gun trafficking: States that do have strong gun laws are not immune from gun violence – they have to contend with a thriving underground market for firearms brought from states with few restrictions. In New Jersey, more than three-quarters of the firearms used in gun crimes are purchased in other states.

The gun safety package would make it easier to prosecute gun traffickers; as well as require every New Jersey gun retailer to carry smart guns, personalized handguns that only the owner can use; require photo ID to purchase ammunition; and help cities establish violence intervention programs.

If these laws pass, New Jersey will be a national model for gun safety. Let’s hope other states follow New Jersey’s lead in the quest to reduce gun violence deaths – whether they are suicides, homicides or mass shootings.

Look for updates from NCJW/Essex on ways to support New Jersey’s gun violence prevention laws in the coming months or contact Stephanie Abrahams, Director of Advocacy, at sabrahams@ncjwessex.org to see how you can help.

* Studies were published by the Giffords Law Center, JAMA Internal Medicine, the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins, the academic journal Epidemiologic Reviews, the Rand Corporation, among others.

Is Technology Holding You Back?

Are you tired of always having to ask someone else to help you with computer tasks, especially your children? Did you learn how to use a computer so long ago and now feel intimidated by their streamlined look and how you access software?

You are not alone! The Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women offers many different computer classes to help get you up to speed. Whether you are looking for the basics or are ready to learn some advanced skills, the Center runs classes year-round to meet your needs.

After many years of teaching computer classes at the Center, our instructors are still excited about each new class. Students are sometimes apprehensive but always eager to learn. Regardless of their individual situations, they are looking to acquire skills to get a better job, prepare for a volunteer position, or just have knowledge they feel most of their peers already possess.

Recently one student was applying for a job as a playground aide at a local elementary school. One of the job requirements was that she be proficient in Microsoft Word because on rainy days she would be required to help out in the office. Needing to gain this knowledge quickly, she attended the class in Basic Microsoft Word and was tutored in the advanced features she needed to know. She had to pass a proficiency exam and was very happy to learn that she excelled on the test and got the job!

At the Center for Women we encourage everyone to keep on learning and expanding their horizons. Our computer classes will help you become more confident and prepared for today’s world, in and out of the workplace.

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 computer classes as well as resume writing, job coaching, and interview skills training. 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

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!