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!

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

 

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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