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.
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.
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.”
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.