The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Monday, March 27, 2017

Union County Youth Employment Program - Deadline Approaching!

Plainfield Residents! Although this notice has been posted and shared, there are still some spots left for Plainfield residents--it is imperative that they be filled. The deadline for the Union County Youth Employment Program is approaching! If you are interested in starting your career, contact Winona Cleveland of Plainfield Action Services (908) 753-3519 or at to schedule an appointment! If you are between the ages of 16-24, are not currently enrolled in school, are a Union County resident, or are a veteran or spouse of a veteran, you need to apply. If you know a young person who meets the above criteria, have them call as soon as possible.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ready to Run 2017: Campaign Training for Women

Ready to Run participant (with pink hat) and Moderator Ingrid Reed)
This year, I was once again honored to participate in the 2017 Ready to Run Annual Conference (March 10-11 at Douglass College), sponsored by the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), part of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. I have written about the CAWP in the past--they provide invaluable service to women in the form of campaign training to encourage more women to run for public office. I have served on Ready to Run panels in the past, and in 2015 I was one of three Faculty-in-Residence mentors for the week-long NEW Leadership Program run by CAWP. 

The two keynote speakers this year--one for each day of the conference--were Senator Nia Gill and Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, Majority Conference Leader, both members of the New Jersey legislature. Also participating in this year's conference as our own freeholder, Linda Carter, who spoke on Friday night. The conference was sold out well in advance this year, no doubt due to a greater interest because of last year's election of a racist, misogynistic narcissist who gloried in the idea of assaulting women.

The Saturday panel I served on, "Finding Your Political Voice and Influence," was packed and had to be moved to a larger room because of the high turnout. Moderated by the great Ingrid Reed, Senior Fellow of New Jersey Future (and former Director of the New
Jersey Project at Eagleton), our panel focused on ways to become active in politics  and/or school board elections, and how to go about positioning yourself to be appointed to a public board or commission. As always, the panel included both Democrats and Republicans: Azra Baig, of the South Brunswick Board of Education, Lizette Delgado-Polanco, Vice Chair of the NJ Democratic State Committee, Judith Lieberman, Senior Counsel to the Appointments Office, Office of the Governor, Margaret Nordstrom, Executive Director of the NJ Highlands Council, Mary Melfi, Hunterdon County Clerk, and me (offering a look into local politics and community service).

I have known Azra for a few years, as we have served on previous panels together, and it was great seeing Lizette, whom I know from her work as one of the state's top Democratic operatives, as well as from her labor work in SEIU--with whom we have marched for years in support of immigration reform, DREAMers, the Fight for $15, and in support of the Earned Sick Leave Law, which was finally passed in Plainfield in 2016. 

Each woman brought her unique perspective to the panel, and we received great questions from the audience, which was composed of women of all ages, ethnicities, and from all walks of life. I met many young women who expressed interest in running for local office in their own communities--we all exchanged cards and talked about mentorship and what it means to commit oneself to public service. As the panel ended, I was able to hand out pink hats (made by a friend) to a number of women, who pledged to wear them to the next advocacy march, and to make donations to their local libraries. I look forward to continuing to work with the Center for American Women and Politics, and ensuring that we get more young women "ready to run!"

Monday, March 6, 2017

Community Service: LiVay Sweet Shop's "Homeless Period" Drive

This past weekend, Stacey Welch, owner of LiVay's Sweet Shop, performed another great community service by hosting "The Homeless Period" collection drive of sanitary napkins and other feminine products for donation to Covenant House in Newark. You all remember her last donation drive--collecting socks for our less fortunate brothers and sisters. I have written about the issue of the homeless period in the past--as you know, tampons and sanitary napkins are expensive and not usually listed as toiletry items, per se. Yet, they are among the most-needed items by women and girls in shelters. Thanks to Stacey and her team for being exemplary and outstanding community service partners, and thanks to all those who donated! Here is the link to the Facebook Page of LiVay's, where you can see the photos of the hundreds and hundreds of donations, along with those who made them: LiVay's on Facebook

I am re-posting below an article from Jezebel, written by Madeleine Davies, that I posted previously (on my other blog) about this topic. 


Of the all the extreme challenges faced by homeless people, the lack of access to menstruation products is one that, for many homeless women, is among the worst and most humiliating.

In many cases, homeless shelters will have both limited resources in regards to pads and tampons, as well as strict bathroom restrictions that make it increasingly hard, if not impossible, for women to keep clean while having their periods. Not only that, but, as The Huffington Post's Eleanor Goldberg puts it, "the fact that menstruation is a taboo topic to begin with means that people who are able help often aren't even aware that such a vast need exists."

It was that realization that motivated Joanie Balderstone and Rebecca McIntire to start Distributing Dignity, an organization devoted to "distributing pads, bras and tampons to women in need."

Feminine hygiene products are often overlooked during natural disaster drives (as a friend who volunteered during the Hurricane Sandy aftermath once told me, "All these poor women want is some goddamn tampons") and even in donations to women's shelters. 

From (via HuffPo):

Jeey Moncayo is a caseworker for Camden County Women's Center, where more than a thousand women in 2013 found safety from abusive relationships. She said most women escape their abusers in a hurry, arriving with just the clothes they're wearing. For others, their abusers, in fits of rage, have burned or thrown bleach on their clothes.
Mothers spend any money they have on their kids first. "The women's needs come last," she said.
In June, the center received 150 bras from Distributing Dignity. The women especially liked the option of feminine pads marked narrow, slim, and tween. "It sounds silly," said Moncayo, "but the choice is empowering."

Something to consider next time you donate. Another thing to consider: the government subsidizing tampons and pads.