Just Two Hours Can Make a Difference

A new lipstick, a fresh journal and a lovely scented lotion – these may be items that you treat yourself to regularly, but for women in economic need, these are luxuries that may be out of reach.  Volunteers at our most recent Mitzvah-in-a-Minute event decided to change that story. With the help of some generous donations, NCJW/Essex volunteers created dozens of “Take Time for You” gift bags filled with cosmetics, hair care products and other little luxuries that were presented to NCJW/Essex Center for Women clients throughout the month of May.

The gift bags are just one example of the way NCJW/Essex touches the lives of local women, children and families in economic need. The Mitzvah-in-a-Minute program is a series of community service projects planned throughout the year that can all be done in under two hours. 

One of our newer projects is creating “Period Ready Kits” in partnership with the NCJW/Essex Period.Project.  Volunteers fill cosmetic bags with sanitary pads, travel deodorant and lip balm. The bags are given to school nurses for distribution to middle school girls in need.

A favorite morning for many volunteers is chopping and slicing vegetables for freezer-ready meals as part of Mitzvah-in-a-Minute “Fill-the-Freezer.” Center for Women clients are so grateful to receive trays of homemade lasagna, burritos, soups and other hearty dishes that they can serve to their families.

Involving your children in community service is easy with Family Mitzvah-in-a-Minute events.  At these fun, child-centered events, children hear from local agencies about why their time and service are important and how the packages they are assembling help the community.

If you have two hours, you can make a difference! To learn more about volunteering, organizing or hosting a Mitzvah-in-a-Minute, please contact Dina Stambler, Director of Volunteer Outreach and Membership at dstambler@ncjwessex.org.

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.