Today Is National 2-1-1 Day

With every passing year, new partnerships are made between NJ 2-1-1 and government and community organizations. These partnerships establish clear pathways for people to follow when help is needed. In celebration of national 2-1-1 Day, we celebrate how 2-1-1 makes help happen in New Jersey.

In 2016 NJ 2-1-1 connected 363,627 people with services they might otherwise have missed. NJ 2-1-1 community resource specialists answered 155,737 calls for assistance. Another 5,835 calls were forwarded directly to state hotlines. Our website received 202,055 visitors.

Our partnerships with United Ways across New Jersey, as well as state and local government help connect people in-need with existing services and programs. In 2016 our partnerships and special initiatives took us above and beyond traditional information and referral and enabled us to make help happen. See our Year in Review.

Since 2005 NJ 2-1-1 has been providing residents of our state with connections to essential resources that often move callers in crisis from despair to hope. “While many of the calls we receive come from families who are looking for solutions to the most basic of needs like utility assistance, food and affordable housing,” states NJ 2-1-1 board president Gina Plotino, “we answer calls for many
other things too, such as mental health counseling, childcare or transportation. Call 9-1-1 for emergencies. Call 2-1-1 for everything else.” With a resource database of nearly 3,000 agencies and more than 10,000 programs and services, NJ 2-1-1 is the easiest place to start to find a solution to any problem relating to health and human service needs.

Source: A February 10, 2017 email titled, “The Easiest Place to Start” from the Executive Director of the NJ 2-1-1 Partnership.

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Philadelphia Resistance and Progressive Groups

The following is a list, not all-inclusive, of progressive groups in Philadelphia. They are a few of the Resistance groups based on my personal knowledge or experience that stand with the community. The links below serve as a tool to empower you to join the movement to stop Trump.

To learn and join in our daily events it is strongly recommended you find a group. All have either a Facebook, Twitter or a webpage. Now is the time to get a Facebook account and a Twitter account, if you want to stay informed.

Useful Resistance/Progressive sites include:

  • Indivisible offers a free, practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda. Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen. Read and study their Indivisible Guide. Link up with an Indivisible local group today.
  • Reclaim Philadelphia is a group founded by former Bernie staffers and volunteers and is committed to continuing the Political Revolution in the City of Brotherly Love.
  • Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks is a progressive Democrat organization, active since 2004. You can follow them on Twitter @Philly_NN.
  • Indivisible: Philly NW is a local organization formed to resist Trump’s authoritarian agenda. Join them at their next meeting, February 5. See their Facebook page for details.
  • Philly We Rise helped to chase Trump out of our city last week, so they boasted on Facebook. Signup for their text alerts.
  • Shout Out Philly likes to raise the volume on progressive activism in Philadelphia. Read their Take Action Now or Events pages online.
  • Seeds for Action is a Philadelphia based coalition focused on taking the barriers out of social justice and activism and translating the emotions of the last election into accessible direct action.
  • 215 People’s Alliance is a multi-racial collaborative dedicated to fighting for equity and justice in Philadelphia – at the ballot box and in the street.

Direct action is currently concentrated on calling the offices of our Senators and holding rallies outside their district offices. It is making a difference! Join #ResistTrumpTuesdays events, especially at Senator Pat Toomey’s office, 1628 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Philadelphia. You should also call his office to leave a timely message. He can be reached at 215-241-1090 (Philadelphia) or 202-224-4254 (DC). Senator Bob Casey’s Philadelphia office is located at 2000 Market Street. His telephone numbers are: 215-405-9660 (Philadelphia) or 202-224-6324(DC).

You may find the voice mailboxes are sometimes full when you call. You can try calling another of their district offices. Consult their contact pages for options: Toomey, Casey.

Urge you Senators to slow down the Cabinet selection process until we know where the nominees stand on the issues, particularly the illegal Executive Orders on immigration. No Senate confirmation vote should be taken until they answer our questions. Make Congress listen.

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EITC Awareness Day

Once a year at the end of January the Internal Revenue Services and its partners do a one day media event to advertise the Earned Income Tax Credit program, a tax program that has been around since the Nixon Administration. Today, January 27, 2017, is another EITC Awareness Day.

The good points about EITC are that it provides tax relief for low and moderate income working families. The IRS even encourages people to take advantage of it. They partner with software companies to make tax filing free to many households. Checkout Free File. EITC tax refunds lift millions out of poverty and make life a little easier.

The bad news is that one out of five households do not take advantage by claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit. In New Jersey, an estimated 197,000 taxpayers are losing out of an average EITC refund totaling approximately $2350. Do the math – unclaimed tax refunds equal to $462 million. To make matters worse, New Jersey once was recognized as a leader of EITC but now has sunk to near bottom, 45th among 50 states, in the EITC participation rate ranking. See https://www.eitc.irs.gov/EITC-Central/Participation-Rate.

Here are a few tips. To find a free tax preparation site (generally if you make $54,000 a year or less) visit either NJ 2-1-1 Partnership’s NJ VITA Sites or IRS Get Free Tax Prep Help Page or the AARP Tax-Aide Locator.

To first find out if you qualify, visit the EITC Assistant. By answering all the questions you can find out if you are eligible for EITC. The tool also provides an estimate of the amount of your credit.

Employers have a responsibility to let their workers know about this program. They should be distributing a notice titled, “Have You Told Your Employees About the Earned Income Credit (EIC)?” Ask your employer to runoff copies and attach it to W-2 statements.

There are a number of web sites useful to IRS partners, employers, government agencies/offices and nonprofits. These website provide outreach material, flyers and other social media tools. They include: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Get It Back Campaign and EITC Central. County welfare agencies and One Stop Career Centers distribute the Division of Family Development’s 2016 EITC Fact Sheet.

EITC Awareness Day – can you afford to do without it?

Other useful tax preparation assistance information is available at the NJ Community Resources website.

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Affordable Care Act

Today, the United States Senate takes up action to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Make your voices heard by telephoning your Senator as I did this morning. So many people have been calling that you might have to leave a voicemail message.

The message I left was fairly straightforward and was limited to this one topic. My talking points were:

  • Stop the repeal, Senator.
  • The Affordable Care Act is not a catastrophe as the President-elect claims. It has given 20 million people dignity and an opportunity to live better lives.
  • I worked at a county welfare agency and government for forty-three years (recently retired). I’ve seen how some people have had to choose between buying food or going to the doctor or heating their home. Don’t make it harder for them.
  • I’ve spoken with countless people in my community who work more than one job just to make ends meet. Don’t make it harder for them.
  • You’ve been fixing the Social Security Act of 1935 for eight decades. You never once had to repeal that program. Fix ACA, don’t repeal it.

Call your Senator today. You can use the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be connected.

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Resisting Donald Trump

House Republicans were beaten back today in their efforts to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, an arm of Congress whose mission is to investigate corruption and unethical behavior. A storm of criticism reached Washington with hundreds of calls made to House members either directly or via the United States Capitol Switchboard, 202-224-3121.

New Jersey’s two Senators and twelve Representatives are:

You may want to capture these phone numbers for future action, whether it is to voice your concerns, send a message, or as a sign of protest. You deserve to be heard on matters that are important to you, whether it deals with Cabinet picks, environmental concerns, the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), civil rights/civil liberties, etc.

You can also access this list online by visiting the House Of Representatives
Directory of Representatives.

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NJ SHARES Night With The New Jersey Devils

Save the date… The next NJ SHARES Night with the New Jersey Devils is January 20, 2017. The New Jersey Devils will once again ‘Share the Warmth’ as they take the ice on Friday, January 20th at 7:30 pm against the Montreal Canadiens, by offering DISCOUNTED stadium tickets to our supporters with proceeds benefiting NJ SHARES! Come support NJ SHARES as the Community Assist Partner of the Night.

  • Group Seating at the Game
  • Discounted Group Ticket
  • Group Welcome on the Scoreboard
  • Group Gift for Everyone in Attendance

To Order Tickets, please visit: www.newjerseydevils.com/njshares17 – Promo Code: njshares17.

If you experience technical problems with the discount code or need printable tickets, please call Joshua Malakoff at 973-757-6162. Download the PDF for ticket pricing and details. Note: The promo code is not compatible with Internet Explorer, so please use other browsers such as Chrome or Firefox.

(For purposes of identification, the notice above appeared in the NJ SHARES newsletter.)

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Bridgeway Offers Housing Assistance to Chronically Homeless

Housing First Vouchers are available for individuals who are chronically homeless, living in Union County. Person must meet the below requirements to be considered for the voucher.

Person must be Chronically Homeless as defined by HUD:

  • Homeless for 12 months consecutively
  • Homeless on four different occasions in the last three years equaling twelve months or more

Person must have proof of one of the following disabilities:

  • A Serious Mental Illness
  • Diagnosable Substance Abuse Disorder
  • A Developmental Disability
  • A Chronic Physical Illness or Disability, including the co-occurrence of two or more of the above conditions

Please contact Bridgeway Homeless Outreach Counselor, Tisheka Allen for an Information and Referral Package. Phone: 908-289-7330 x101.

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