NCJW Receives Grant from Investors Foundation for Back 2 School Store

NCJW/Essex Receives Grant from Investors Foundation
in Support of the 2017 Back 2 School Store

 NCJW/Essex received a $2,500 grant from Investors Foundation in support of its 9th Annual Back 2 School Store (B2SS), an annual event where economically disadvantaged children are able to shop cost-free for brand new attire, school supplies and personal care items, encouraging a well-equipped and confident start to the new school year. The event, on Sunday, July 30, 2017, outfitted nearly 800 children with the help of 475 volunteers.

“The support from Investors Foundation is important to the success of this community-wide event,” said Shari Harrison, President, NCJW/Essex. “We rely on the generosity of many individuals, foundations and corporations to enable us to purchase brand new items for the children including pants, shirts, winter coats, gloves, socks, undergarments, hats and backpacks.” Harrison explains that the children are referred by over 30 social service agencies and are escorted through the store with a personal shopper. While the children shopped, parents and guardians visited the onsite Gaelen Family Resource Center which offered information from numerous community service agencies as well as health screenings and 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, 22% 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 nine years to meet this need.

 

Mayor of Montclair Attends Back 2 School Store

Mayor of Montclair, NJ, Attends the NCJW/Essex 9th Annual Back 2 School Store

Robert D. Jackson, Mayor of Montclair, attended the 9th Annual Back 2 School Store, sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex). The NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store is held each year and provides an opportunity for disadvantaged children, grades K-5, to “shop” cost-free in a one-day pop-up store full of brand new clothes and school supplies donated by NCJW/Essex and its sponsoring partners. Each child is escorted by a volunteer “personal shopper” through the store to pick out his or her own new backpack with school supplies, and a new outfit complete with a winter coat, pants, shirt, sneakers, undergarments, and winter hats and gloves. Ths year the Back 2 School Store outfitted nearly 800 economically disadvantaged children with the help of 475 volunteers. Since 2009, the Back 2 School Store has benefitted nearly 4700 children and utilized over 3200 volunteers who were involved in planning, organizing and working at the store on the day of the event.

Jenna Bush Hager Keynote Speaker at Opening Event

Jenna Bush Hager,
Teacher, Author & Journalist
to be Keynote Speaker at NCJW/Essex Opening Event in October

 The National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) announces its 2017 Opening Event featuring teacher, author, and journalist Jenna Bush Hager, a contributing correspondent for NBC’s Today. The NCJW/Essex Opening Event will take place on Wednesday evening, October 25th at 7:30 p.m., at Brooklake Country Club, 139 Brooklake Road, Florham Park, NJ. Her keynote address, “Celebrating Women Who Do Extraordinary Things,” will highlight how small change can make a large difference in a single person’s life.

In addition to NBC’s Today, Hager is editor for Southern Living magazine and chair of UNICEF’s Next Generation which works towards reducing the number of preventable childhood deaths around the world. Hager has traveled throughout Latin America and the Caribbean with UNICEF, where she witnessed the plight faced by the underprivileged. By sharing uplifting stories of regular people doing extraordinary things, she shows how lives can be changed when provided with compassion, community support and educational opportunities.

Hager’s best-selling novel, Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, is based on a 17-year-old single mother with HIV who tries to shield her child from the pain and neglect she suffered as a child. In October, her new book of short stories, Sisters First, co-authored with her sister, Barbara Pierce Bush, will be released. Copies will be available at the NCJW/Essex Opening Event for purchase and signing.

“We are looking forward to kicking off the upcoming year with Jenna Bush Hager’s positive and uplifting message,” says Shari Harrison, president NCJW/Essex. “I am confident that she will leave us with a renewed determination to continue working toward improving lives right here in our own communities.”

Registration is required for the Opening Event which is open to the public and is free of charge to NCJW/Essex members and $20 for nonmembers. Boutique shopping, coffee and dessert are available from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm; the program begins at 7:30 pm. Those nonmembers wishing to join NCJW/Essex can apply $20 toward a new yearly membership of $50. Attendees can register for the event by calling (973) 740-0588 or online at ncjwessex.org.

 

800 Children Shop at Back 2 School Store

Big Grins and High Fives!

Nearly 800 Children Shop Cost-Free at NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store

 

“I got the coolest stuff!” said one young boy running up to greet his father after attending the 9th Annual NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store (B2SS) on Sunday, July 30th. “My new backpack makes me feel smart and important!” said another child. With walls completely lined with coats, rows of brand new sneakers and racks and racks of clothing, the B2SS outfitted nearly 800 economically disadvantaged children with the help of 475 volunteers. The children were able to shop cost-free for brand new attire, 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 Shari Harrison, NCJW/Essex President. B2SS co-chairs Jill Sorkin Johnson of Montclair, NJ, Margie Zucker of Short Hills, NJ, and Karen Cherins of West Orange, NJ joined with dignitaries to cut the ribbon. This year’s B2SS would not have been possible without major support from many individuals, foundations and corporations.

Following the ribbon cutting, the store was opened to a long line of excited children, eager to enter and pick out brand new outfits including pants, shirts, winter coats, gloves, socks, undergarments and hats. The children, referred by over 30 social service agencies, were greeted by a personal shopper who led them on their shopping excursion. First stop: a hallway of colorful new backpacks! Then each child received a warm welcome into the 4,000 sq foot space, hosted at B’nai Shalom in West Orange. By the end of the spree, each child had a big bag of clothing and a backpack filled with personal care items and school supplies. New this year, each child also got to select a new book from the Tabak-Fass Book Nook, with all levels of books donated by Scholastic.

While the children shopped, parents and guardians visited the onsite Gaelen Family Resource Center. Lining the halls 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. “This is truly a great day,” said Sara Peña, Senior Community Outreach Coordinator at University Hospital. “We are excited about this partnership and our ability to provide services and support to the local communities.”

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, 22% 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 nine years to meet this need.

“Being here makes me feel happy because a bunch of kids like me are able to get all new clothes and be excited about school together,” said one young boy in attendance. Another rising first grader was so excited to pick out jeans, a sci-fi t-shirt and Velcro sneakers that he wore them home. “I wish I could come back every day,” said one little girl. “I just don’t like it here – I LOVE it!”

Ranging from college freshman to grandparents, the passion each volunteer brought was undeniably visible through the 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.

With shoes that fit just right and smiles from ear to ear, the children exited the store to be reunited with their parents. “Thank you all so much,” said one mother departing with her son and daughter, shopping bags in tow. “We’ve come to this event for years and it never fails to give my kids the confidence and excitement they need to start off their school year right.”

Rotary Club of Caldwells Donates to Back 2 School Store

Local Fundraising Group Supports the
NCJW/Essex 9th Annual Back 2 School Store

The National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) received a generous donation from a local ad hoc group of the Rotary Club of the Caldwells to support this year’s 9th Annual NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store.

The group of three local women who call themselves “The Vixens,” are focused on raising funds and awareness for hyper-local causes to help women and children in the West Essex area. Their efforts raised $2500 in conjunction with the Rotary Club of the Caldwells to benefit the Back 2 School Store.

The NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store is held each year and provides an opportunity for disadvantaged children, grades K-5, to “shop” cost-free in a one-day pop-up store full of brand new clothes and school supplies donated by NCJW/Essex and its sponsoring partners. Each child is escorted by a volunteer “personal shopper” through the store to pick out his or her own new backpack with school supplies, and a new outfit complete with a winter coat, pants, shirt, sneakers, undergarments, and winter hats and gloves. Since 2009 and including this year, the Back 2 School Store has benefitted nearly 4700 children and utilized over 3200 volunteers who were involved in planning, organizing and working at the store on the day of the event.

“We chose the Back 2 School Store as our focus this year because we recognized that there were many children in need, right in our own backyards,” said Samantha Cordaro McCoy, West Caldwell Library Director and one of The Vixens. “We heard a presentation about the project and knew we had to do something. We all had fond memories of the beginning of school and the shopping that went along with it and we wanted to make that possible for local children who are economically disadvantaged.”

“On behalf of NCJW/Essex, we want to thank The Vixens for their generous donation,” said NCJW/Essex president Shari Harrison. “We are so grateful to have such incredible sponsors to contribute to a cause so close to our hearts.  Without them, none of this would be possible.”

Career Closet Recipient of Handbag Trade-In Days

NCJW/Essex Career Closet is the Recipient of

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

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 14th to 23th. This is the sixth 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 Isabel Margolin, 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 92 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.”

Author Lois Schaffer Speaks at Books and Bites

NCJW/Essex Books and Bites Event to Feature Author and Activist

 Author Lois Schaffer will lead a discussion about her book, The Unthinkable: Life, Loss, and a Mother’s Mission to Ban Illegal Guns, at a special Books and Bites discussion group hosted by the National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Schaffer’s tragic and compelling memoir documents the horrific murder of her daughter in Chicago, a victim of gun violence, and makes a plea for the control of illegal guns to prevent such tragedies.

With time and reflection, Schaffer pieces together the fabric of her daughter’s life and the consequences of her death in a personal, profound and gripping narrative. The Unthinkable is ultimately a call to action – to push for real reform so that other families do not have to live the nightmare that her family experienced.

Ms. Schaffer has always been an activist, devoting her life to protecting human rights. She was actively involved in advocating for the reduction of gun violence even before her daughter’s murder, but now has focused her energies on preventing such tragedies by speaking about sensible gun legislation on a local and national level. She and her husband live in Great Neck, NY.

Books and Bites, an ongoing book discussion group exploring novels and nonfiction writing, is held multiple times each year and brings community members together to discuss thought-provoking literature. The Unthinkable will be sure to incite intuitive and thoughtful conversation at the event. Complimentary copies of the book are available for those registering.

Books and Bites meets for three sessions in the fall and three sessions in the spring. Registration is available online at www.ncjwessex.org. The registration fee for a single session for NCJW/Essex members is $6.00 and for non-members is $10.00. Members may also register for three sessions for a discounted fee. The discussions are from 10:00 am – 12:00 noon and are held in the NCJW/Essex Conference Room located at 70 South Orange Avenue Suite 120 in Livingston, NJ 07039.

Three Women Honored at Installation and Awards Evening

Three Women Honored at the
NCJW/Essex Annual Installation and Awards Evening

Three local women were presented with awards for their leadership, service and contributions at the NCJW/Essex Annual Installation and Awards Evening, which took place Thursday, June 8, 2017 at Crestmont Country Club in West Orange, NJ.

Teddi Dolph of South Orange, NJ, was the recipient of The Hannah G. Solomon Award, presented by NCJW/Essex to an individual who has changed the lives of others through leadership efforts and service on a community level. Both for NCJW/Essex and other efforts, she has channeled her passions for art and advocacy and made a difference on a community level, earning her the distinction of the Hannah G. Solomon Award. Numerous organizations have tapped into her creative flair and leadership strengths including the North Caldwell Art Renaissance Program, The George Segal Gallery at Montclair State University, Jewish Services for the Developmentally Disabled, and the Jewish Women’s Foundation of NJ. For NCJW/Essex, Dolph has volunteered with the Center for Women, the Golf Invitational and the Back 2 School Store. She co-founded and was the first co-chair of the Career Closet and currently co-chairs the Kids Emergency Closet and The Butterfly Project.

Susan Miller of South Orange, NJ, was the recipient of the Service to Section Award, recognized for her passion and dedication as a volunteer for 15 years. The consummate volunteer, Miller excels at each task she undertakes and her involvement has spanned nearly every aspect of NCJW/Essex. Miller’s leadership roles have included the Executive Committee, chair of the Investment Committee and co-chair of the Golf Invitational. In addition to her work on numerous committees such as Impact Finance, House Tour, Membership, Back 2 School Store and Special Gifts, she had an acting role in the NCJW/Essex production of the Vagina Monologues.

Jennie Goldsmith Rothman of Maplewood, NJ, was the recipient of the Henrietta Weiser Emerging Leader Award, presented to a promising NCJW/Essex member who has demonstrated leadership potential. For Rothman the opportunity to make a difference locally has been behind her evolving role within NCJW/Essex. In addition to serving on the Section Board and Executive Committee as Recording Secretary, she has co-chaired the Mitzvah-in-a-Minute Baby Bundles project and VolunTweens. She has also brought a strong voice and a hardworking attitude to committees such as Leadership Training, SLUT The Play and Career Closet, which have all greatly benefited from her participation. Rothman will assume the role of Vice President of Fund Development for 2017-2018.

Three Essex County Students Win the Nancy and Robert Eskow NCJW Volunteer Award

Three Essex County Students Win the Annual

Nancy and Robert Eskow NCJW Volunteer Awards

 


 The National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) honored three extraordinary Essex County high school students with the Nancy and Robert Eskow NCJW Volunteer Awards. The recipients of the awards were recognized for their outstanding contributions to many different causes including working with a nonprofit to help prevent the transmission of malaria, fundraising money and educating people on the importance of organ donation, and volunteering as part of a local first aid squad and as a firefighter. This is the 14th year the award has been bestowed to deserving high school students.

                  The 2017 award winners include Jacqueline Smith of Mount Saint Dominic Academy in Caldwell, Max Prince of West Essex Regional High School in North Caldwell, and Thomas Salandra of James Caldwell High School. These high school seniors have shown a commitment and dedication to improving lives for others locally and globally. This year’s winners of the Nancy and Robert Eskow NCJW Volunteer Awards each received a $500 scholarship and a commemorative certificate.

Jacqueline Smith, a senior at Mount Saint Dominic Academy, has dedicated her time to trying to prevent malaria transmission by working with the non-profit Nothing But Nets. For the past four summers, Smith has worked at a local day camp and has created fun games involving various nets as a way of raising money. After combining all donations from entry fees and spare change, Smith has been able to gather together over $3,370 for the organization, which is enough to send over 337 nets to families all over Africa. Recently, she was named a “Champions Council Member” for her success, has hosted advocacy sessions with US Senators, traveled to Washington DC to meet with members of Congress, and has been recognized by the United Nations on International Youth Day for her efforts involving Nothing But Nets.

Max Prince, a senior at West Essex Regional High School and treasurer for the National Honor Society, has always had a passion for igniting change and being a leader. Since the age of thirteen, he has been fundraising for the NJ Sharing Network (NJSN), an organization responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue for transplant. Over the past five years, Max has been able to draw in hundreds of people to join his team, Max’s Mitzvah Movers, to participate in the NJ Sharing Network 5K. He has also become a certified volunteer for the organization, a member of the NJSN Cycling team, and one of their keynote speakers. Now, as a graduating senior, he has been able to raise over $70,000 for NJSN.

Thomas Salandra, a senior at James Caldwell High School and member of the West Essex First Aid Squad, has always had a desire to give back to his community. Currently, he has clocked in over eight hundred hours and has responded to over one hundred calls. He enjoyed volunteering so much while at the first aid squad that he decided to also become a volunteer firefighter. While president of the Patriot Club at his high school, he coordinated “Salute to Service Night,” an event made to recognize and honor first responders. This January, he was recognized by his football team and was awarded the Jim Robinson Caldwell Gridiron Club Award for spirit, determination, desire, and sportsmanship.

Winners of the Nancy and Robert Eskow Volunteer Award reflect the mission and values of NCJW/Essex through their commitment and dedication to community service projects and advocacy experienced during their high school careers. In recognition of their exemplary contributions, each received a $500 scholarship and an award certificate from NCJW/Essex.

Slut The Play opened May 17th at SOPAC

Raw and Uncensored, NCJW/Essex Production of SLUT The Play
Opens Eyes in Combating Sexism and Sexual Violence

“…the audience cannot escape the realities of rape culture
by simply scrolling past it on social media.”

With courageous acting and a provocative script, a group of Essex County teens brought the issues of slut-shaming and sexual assault to the forefront. Against a multi-media backdrop at the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) in South Orange, NJ, SLUT The Play, written by Katie Cappiello, was presented by NCJW/Essex to a sold-out audience on May 17th. Its provocative message was an eye-opener for all in attendance.

NCJW/Essex produced SLUT The Play, made possible by support from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, to be a catalyst to start a dialogue about a culture that encourages girls to be sexual but then degrades them for it. “The topics of slut-shaming, peer pressure and rape culture aren’t addressed nearly enough,” said Paula Green, NCJW/Essex Vice President of Advocacy. “We wanted to bring these issues to the forefront and offer our community an opportunity to see how these actions play out in real time through the eyes of a 16-year-old-girl.”

Inspired by real life experiences of teenage girls, Joey, the central character, has been sexually assaulted by a group of boys she had considered friends. The play, which is based around a police interrogation with her about the assault, hit a nerve with many of the teen actors. “I initially joined the show because I love theater and acting,” said Jill Friedland, a senior at Livingston High School, “but being part of it has made me an activist. SLUT The Play is so powerful – it has been an eye-opening experience. Performing it as live theater creates an environment where the audience cannot escape the realities of rape culture by simply scrolling past it on social media.”

As the cast worked together throughout the spring, an amazing transformation occurred for many of the actors. “The play allowed me to discuss things that are seen as taboo with a group of such brave and inspiring people,” said Sarah Gordin, also a senior at Livingston High School. “As a group, the cast really bonded and became an ensemble as we worked on such important and difficult topics. I always considered myself a feminist, but after the rehearsal process I now consider myself an activist against sexual violence and slut shaming.”

“SLUT The Play implicates us all for the roles we play in a society that shames and blames women but it also emboldens us all to play a role in fostering a culture of consent, care and empathy,” emphasized Shari Harrison, President of NCJW/Essex. Described as a call to action, the play is a reminder that rape culture is not just an issue in some other community, impacting someone else’s daughter, son, sister, brother or friend. Rather, it is happening everywhere and touching the lives of young people, even close to home. The performance was followed by a talk-back with the audience to bring these issues to light.

This production was directed by the talented Joey Brenneman who has extensive experience working with young actors and pushes them to take on their characters wholeheartedly. We created a strong and safe community where we could explore these tough issues through conversation and theater,” explained Brenneman. Co-chairs Myrna Wertheimer and Tara Heyderman, both of Livingston, commented on the unexpected effects of the production on the cast and the community. “These young actors have learned that they have a voice when they witness sexism and slut shaming,” said Wertheimer. Heyderman added, “Hopefully the audience was moved to understand that they should never be bystanders.”

Throughout the year NCJW/Essex tackles serious issues with dynamic educational programming designed to open a dialogue about challenging topics and generate action. Visit us at www.ncjwessex.org or call (973) 740-0588 to see how you can get involved.