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.

Education is Empowerment

E2EEducation is an essential means of empowering women with knowledge, skills and self-confidence to help them take the first steps toward success. At the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women (CFW), we see the benefits of education time and time again. We see women who have been out of the workforce for years who are trying to enhance their lives and seek support to make ends meet. One pathway towards this success is to enroll in a certificate program.

Five years ago, with funding from the NJ Department of Children and Families, Division on Women, we created “Education 2 Empowerment,” a program we call E2E. This grant-funded program pays for all or part of the cost of a career training certificate. Recently, the state increased this grant to allow us to continue E2E and work specifically with women residing in Essex County and the surrounding communities who are separated, divorced or widowed. This is a great opportunity for women who have been unemployed or underemployed to obtain training for a new skill to succeed in today’s market. For clients who have already been through E2E, they have had great success at finding employment soon after completing their coursework.

There are many examples of certifications available, including but not limited to: Microsoft Office specialist, office and dental assistant, medical billing, computerized financial accounting, web page graphic design, culinary arts and bookkeeping. Participants are encouraged to participate in the job placement services offered by the CFW and are required to attend monthly update meetings with either a CFW staff member or an NCJW/Essex volunteer liaison.

One client who recently completed E2E said, “Thank you for providing me with the financial support to help me finish my certification to find a job in the medical field. Without the help of the CFW staff, the meetings and the connections, I would not be where I am now – back to work in the field that I love.”

The Center for Women is designed to be a resource for all women. 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.