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.

Jenna Bush Hager at the NCJW/Essex Opening Event

Jenna Bush Hager Brings the Audience to Laughter and Tears at the NCJW/Essex Opening Event

An enthusiastic crowd of 600 people attended the NCJW/Essex Opening Event on October 25, 2017 at Brooklake Country Club featuring Jenna Bush Hager, teacher, author and journalist. Hager discussed her work as a teacher in Baltimore and working in Latin America where she learned about the power of education “to change lives and to save lives.” She encouraged the audience to tell the stories of people making seemingly small, ordinary changes that can ultimately impact people’s lives in a big, extraordinary way.

Hager, this year’s keynote speaker for the NCJW/Essex yearly kick-off event, is a contributing correspondent for NBC’s Today, an 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.  She is the daughter of former U.S. President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.

“There is no definition of a successful life without service,” said Hager to the audience of NCJW/Essex volunteers, relaying the message she learned early on from her grandfather, former U.S. President George H. W. Bush. With poise, charm and wit, Hager spoke of her own experiences as a teacher, author, journalist, daughter, sister and mother. She read a few excerpts from her just released book of short stories, Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life, co-authored with her twin sister, Barbara Pierce Bush. The mix of funny stories and more serious anecdotes brought the audience to tears in one moment and laughter the next.

Also addressing the audience was Deacon Francis Dixon of the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, NJ, who shared his experiences with the NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store and the partnership that has been created between NCJW/Essex and the Church. Deacon Dixon reflected on the kindness of NCJW/Essex volunteers who believe in the work they do stating, “Long after the shoes and clothing provided by the Back 2 School Store no longer fit, the young people whose lives you touched will remember you for your kindness.”

 

“The messages from our Opening Event were positive and uplifting,” said Shari Harrison, president NCJW/Essex. “They give us renewed inspiration to continue our work of providing compassion and community support to change lives for the better.”