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11/25/14

You are receiving Sharing Neighborhoods as a registered subscriber. Sharing Neighborhoods is a publication of New Jersey SHARES, on the web at www.NJSHARES.org.

Events


#GivingTuesday

What Will YOU Give on #GivingTuesday?

As we prepare for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, we don’t want you all to forget that #GivingTuesday is less than a week away!

Mark your calendars – #GivingTuesday will occur next week on Tuesday, December 2nd. NJ SHARES is delighted to be taking part in this national movement that encourages community giving around the holiday season.

We are encouraging everyone to consider giving to NJ SHARES when taking part in this year’s #GivingTuesday. Your donation to our #GivingTuesday campaign will help your neighbors in need stay warm in their homes this winter.

But remember - the giving isn’t just reserved for #GivingTuesday. You can be charitable and generous any day of the year! Between now and December 31, 2014, we have set the bar high and hope to exceed our goal of $10,000 in donations for our Annual Campaign.

To give on #Giving Tuesday, kindly visit: https://secure.qgiv.com/for/nsha/full. Be sure to share our link and spread the word about our campaign efforts via your social media websites – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

Our utility partners – Atlantic City Electric, Elizabethtown Gas, JCP&L, New Jersey Natural Gas, PSE&G, Rockland Electric and South Jersey Gas – have all agreed to match their customer contributions to our #GivingTuesday campaign. Be sure to choose your utility company when you click through to donate.

Be a Neighborhood Hero – help your neighbors in need by donating to our #GivingTuesday campaign on December 2nd. Your generosity matters and truly makes a difference – so, what will YOU give this year?




APN Annual Summit Thursday December 4, 2014

SAVE THE DATE: Anti-Poverty Network's Annual Summit To Be Held December 4th

The Anti-Poverty Network will host its Annual Poverty Summit on December 4, 2014 at the Crown Plaza Monroe (390 Forsgate Dr, Monroe Township) from 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.  The Summit will feature a keynote address from Dr. Kasturi Dasgupta, Chair of the Sociology Department at Georgian Court College; skill-building workshops for advocates; issue-based workshops; networking opportunities and more. For more information, e-mail info@antipovertynetwork.org or click here.




NJ SHARES at the Devils, January 2, 2015

New Jersey Devils Are SHARING THE WARMTH on 1/2/15!

Hey NJ SHARES Supporters – The New Jersey Devils are ‘Sharing the Warmth’ as they take the ice against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, January 2, 2015 with discounted tickets to the game!

We will once again partner with The Devils to host a NJ SHARES night. A portion of the ticket sales go directly to NJ SHARES to help your neighbors in need stay warm and safe in their homes this heating season.

The Devils will also highlight NJ SHARES as the only non-profit at the game and host a 50/50 raffle benefiting NJ SHARES, in addition to usual promotional opportunities like a group welcome on the big screen during the game!

The Devils are offering two different seating opportunities at two affordable price points.

To purchase:

Click here for a flier with detailed information about NJ SHARES Night with the New Jersey Devils. Feel free to share the link, promo code or flier with your friends, family and co-workers!

Deadline to purchase tickets is 12/29/14 – they will be the PERFECT holiday gift, so hurry and get your tickets today!

 


Updates


From Left to Right are Jim Jacob, President and CEO of NJ SHARES and Mike Vogel of Elizabethtown Gas

Elizabethtown Gas Recognized as a Neighborhood Hero

At an Empowerment Breakfast on November 7, 2014, Mike Vogel accepted the NJ SHARES’ Neighborhhood Hero Award Award on behalf of Elizabethtown Gas for his leadership on the NJ SHARES Board.

Many are faced with difficult choices, such as paying for food, rent or heat. NJS helps families regain control of their utility bills and avoid a much deeper potential crisis. Since its founding in 1998, NJS has provided an energy safety-net for more than 178,000 households.  Partnering with companies like Elizabethtown Gas enables NJ SHARES to continue to Offer Hope and Deliver Help to our Neighbors in Need.

Be a Neighborhood Hero like Mike Vogel and Elizabethtown Gas, YOUR WARM HEART CAN HEAT A HOME!  To make a donation visit: www.njshares.org or text WarmHeart to 50155. 




From Left to Right: NJ SHARES’ Cheryl Stowell, ACNJ’ Sheldon Presser with Cecilia Zalkind and NJ SHARES’ CEO, Jim Jacob

ACNJ Recognized as a Neighborhood Hero

Cecilia Zalkind, Executive Director for Advocates for Children of NJ (ACNJ) was awarded the New Jersey SHARES’ Neighborhood Hero Award for her partnership to improving the lives of children in our state.

ACNJ’s work with NJ SHARES ensures that children stay warm and safe in their homes. Enabling them to study and learn while their bellies are full and their bodies are warm is what every child deserves. 

Last year, 54% of the families NJ SHARES helped had children under 18 in the home.  Many are faced with difficult choices, such as paying for food, rent or heat. NJ SHARES helps families regain control of their utility bills and avoid a much deeper potential crisis. Since its founding in 1998, NJ SHARES has provided an energy safety-net for more than 178,000 households.

Be a Neighborhood Hero like Cecilia, YOUR WARM HEART CAN HEAT A HOME!  To make a donation visit: www.njshares.org or text WarmHeart to 50155. 




From Left to Right are NJ SHARES’ Board Members: Greg Seitz, Claire Bartolomeo, Mayor Mironov and NJ SHARES’ President and CEO, Jim Jacob

Mayor Janice Mirnov recognized as a Neighborhood Hero

East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov was awarded the New Jersey SHARES’ (NJS) Neighborhood Hero Award for her leadership on their Board representing the League of Municipalities. 

Many are faced with difficult choices, such as paying for food, rent or heat. NJS helps families regain control of their utility bills and avoid a much deeper potential crisis. Since its founding in 1998, NJS has provided an energy safety-net for more than 178,000 households.

Be a Neighborhood Hero like Mayor Mironov, YOUR WARM HEART CAN HEAT A HOME! 

To make a donation visit: www.njshares.org or text WarmHeart to 50155


president's message


NJ SHARES' President & CEO Jim Jacob

Recently, news across the nation has been buzzing with the untimely return of the polar vortex and the harsh blizzard hitting upstate New York. For many, these weather events serve as early reminders of the winter season ahead – and the bitter cold temperatures that are sure to follow.

This time of year is when energy assistance programs are vital. NJ SHARES and our partners are already working on various programs to ensure that no family or individual is left without heat or utilities as the temperatures begin to drop.

Various state and federal programs are available to help families struggling with difficult economic or financial circumstances during the frigid cold months.

The Winter Termination Program (WTP) is an important safeguard protecting New Jersey residents from having their utility services interrupted or turned-off completely during the coldest winter months. This program, administered by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, runs from now until mid-March 2015 and shields customers receiving public benefits from having their gas or electric service discontinued as long as they are making good faith payments, if they are able.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is also available to those in need. This seasonal program is specifically designed to help those income qualified families and individuals throughout the state pay for their heat, which is very much needed as thermostats drop. Those applying for LIHEAP assistance automatically have their applications submitted for the Universal Service Fund (USF), a program administered by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs which helps lower gas and electric bills for eligible households in need.

Additionally, the New Jersey Comfort Partners Program offers energy savings, education and counseling for income-eligible households in order to reduce their energy burden, free of charge. The program improves energy affordability through direct installation of energy efficiency measures, as well as education and counseling personalized to the specific individual or family. Any New Jersey household with significant electric and gas use, as well as an income at or below 225% of the federal poverty guidelines is eligible to apply. For more information about New Jersey Comfort Partners, please visit: http://www.njcleanenergy.com/residential/programs/comfort-partners/comfort-partners

For those who are in need of assistance but do not qualify for these programs, NJ SHARES is here to help. We offer those who are unable to pay their utility bills due to circumstances beyond their control a much-needed safety net to help meet their utility and energy burdens. Through assistance, education, community outreach, advocacy, information and referral, we work hard to connect households in need with any and all resources available.

In preparation for another brutally cold winter, NJ SHARES has also instituted a new emergency program to assist income eligible households whose utility service has been disconnected. We encourage those facing financial crisis to contact us in their time of need by visiting our website www.njshares.org, calling us at (609) 883-1626 or toll-free at (866) 657-4273 or by e-mail at info@njshares.org.

With the holiday season now upon us, I offer my heartfelt thanks to all of our donors, partners, agencies, supporters and friends whose generosity allows NJ SHARES to provide assistance to all those in need. Your warm hearts will continue to heat homes this winter season. I urge you to continue to share our mission and encourage others to become a Neighborhood Hero by making a tax-deductible donation to our organization today. Your generosity makes such a difference in the lives of so many households in need throughout the state, and it is truly appreciated.

Regards,

Jim Jacob


agency spotlight


Front row left to right is Jasmin Velazquez (holding certificate), Alyssa Marrero and Brenda Larriu. Back row left to right is Sabrina Bermudez and Carmen A. Gonzalez

PRAC of Southern New Jersey

NJ SHARES is fortunate to partner with more than 240 agencies around the state. Each organization has a different mission and focus but all provide holistic solutions to their community.  This month we want to spotlight the PRAC of Southern New Jersey.

PRAC of Southern New Jersey strives to identify and address the needs of the Hispanic and low income community in (Salem and Cape May Counties) by developing strategies and programs that facilitate socioeconomic growth, edifying self-sufficiency and culture.

PRAC's efficient outreach empowers constituents, whose plight is actually heightened due to the lack of geographic density, traditional community concentrations and support networks. These people suffer far more isolation, lack of access to essential resources and support networks, and deprivation of cultural reinforcement, than those living in more densely populated areas in which people are physically close enough to have a reliable and varied support network.

“PRAC serves the area of highest population migration for New Jersey's future and provides a wide array of intensive case management for needy members of the community. NJ SHARES’ Energy telephone and water assistance programs is one of the many services offered at PRAC,” said Ralph Padilla, (CEO/Executive Director) for PRAC.


What's New


National Energy Assistance Directors Association

States Call for Increased LIHEAP Funding to Address Cold Weather Conditions and Continuing High Energy Prices

The National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association today called on Congress to increase funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to $4.7 billion for FY 2015 to address growing need for energy assistance resulting from the early start of winter in much of the country as well as the continuing high cost of home energy.  

States across the country are reporting increasing number of applications and are concerned that funding will not be sufficient to address the need for assistance to help poor families pay for home heating this winter and cooling this summer.  For example, applications are up by 20.9% in Colorado from 24,245 to 29,231, Missouri by 7% from 69,091 to 73,974, and Illinois by 9.8% from 126,823 to 140,602.

Current funding is only sufficient to serve approximately 20% of the eligible population.

Households Receiving LIHEAP Stabilizes as 6.6 Million

In FY 14 (Table 1) LIHEAP provided heating assistance to approximately 6.6 million households and cooling assistance to an additional 1.0 million households.

The number of households served (Table 2) has continued to decline since FY 10 when funding was about $1.7 billion higher.  In FY 10 approximately 8.1 million households received heating assistance; cooling assistance data is not available for earlier years.

Home Heating Costs Projected to Remain High

The average cost of home heating (Table 2) is expected to remain unaffordable for millions of low-income households across the country at an average annual price of $887.  While the price has come down from last year’s very high level of $963, overall the cost remains out of reach for the millions of households receiving LIHEAP assistance, especially those using delivered fuels, with an average cost of $1,712 for those using propane and $1,992 for those using heating oil.

LIHEAP Purchasing Power Continues to Decline

The purchasing power of LIHEAP has declined steadily since FY 10, when the program was funded at $5.1 billion.  Since then, the purchasing power has average grant has declined from about 60.2% to 44.2% of the cost of home heating.  For those using delivered fuels, the purchasing power decline is even more dramatic, declining from 33.5% to 18% for heating oil and from 46.9% to 44.1% for propane.

The purchasing power for the coming winter heating season will depend on three factors: total appropriation, final price of home heating fuels and cold weather conditions and the number of households seeking assistance.

LIHEAP families are among the nation’s poorest and most vulnerable.  

In order to obtain a comprehensive demographic picture of LIHEAP recipients and the characteristics of those who are helped as well as who would be hurt by the program cuts, NEADA conducted a survey of approximately 1,800 households that received LIHEAP benefits.  The results show that LIHEAP households are among the most vulnerable in the country.

  • 40 percent have someone age 60 or older
  • 72 percent have a family member with a serious medical condition
  • 26 percent use medical equipment that requires electricity
  • 37 percent went without medical or dental care
  • 34 percent did not fill a prescription or took less than their full dose of prescribed medication
  • 19 percent became sick because the home was too cold
  • 85 percent of people with a medical condition are seniors

 Many LIHEAP recipients were unable to pay their energy bills:

 ·      49% skipped paying or paid less than their entire home energy bill,

·      37% received a notice or threat to disconnect or discontinue their electricity or home heating fuel,

·      11% had their electric or natural gas service shut off in the past year due to nonpayment, 24% were unable to use their main source of heat in the past year because their fuel was shut off, they could not pay for fuel delivery, or their heating system was broken and they could not afford to fix it, and

·      17% were unable to use their air conditioner in the past year because their electricity was shut off or their air conditioner was broken and they could not afford to fix it.

LIHEAP’s impact in many cases goes beyond providing bill payment assistance by playing a crucial role in maintaining family stability. It enables elderly citizens to live independently and ensures that young children have safe, warm homes to live in. Although the circumstances that lead each client to seek LIHEAP assistance are different, LIHEAP links these stories by enabling people to cope with difficult circumstances with dignity.

Contact:  Mark Wolfe - 202-333-5915




NJ For Health Care

NJ NEW ONLINE RESOURCE HELPS NEW JERSEY CONSUMERS LOCATE ACA ENROLLMENT ASSISTANCE & EVENTS

Representatives of New Jersey health care consumer organizations, provider groups, and community service agencies who provide ACA outreach and enrollment assistance, held a telepress conference today to announce the launch of a new website designed to help consumers sign up for health coverage. The launch comes just days ahead of the second ACA open enrollment period, set for November 15 – February 15, 2015. CoverNJ is a collaborative project of the Coalition’s work group. Consumers will find information on how to connect with New Jersey based enrollment assistors and events via a county and calendar listing, as well as an ACA blog that will feature news and tips targeted to diverse populations. Consumers will be able to find information on enrollment help in communities all across the state.

Maura Collinsgru, Health Care Program Director for New Jersey Citizen Action stated, “There are many New Jersey consumers who will want and need to sign up for health insurance during this second open enrollment period. CoverNJ is designed to provide state specific, easy-to-access information that compliments (rather than replaces) information available via Healthcare.gov and local agency websites. It is a new tool that can help make it easier for New Jersey consumers to find the information and assistance they need to enroll in ACA coverage no matter where they live.”

Many groups who provided consumer enrollment assistance during the last open enrollment period, will again be available to assist consumers who need to re-enroll or sign up for coverage for the first time. Robin Stockton, Director of the Center for Family Services Navigator Exchange Program stated, “For the second year in a row, the Center for Family Services will offer assistance to enroll consumers throughout New Jersey’s seven (7) southern counties. This year we have added experience and additional bilingual staff to assist consumers in completing their applications. We are working with our partners to reach a broad array of consumers right in their own communities. CoverNJ gives us another opportunity to get our message out that free, one-on-one impartial assistance is available in all of the seven counties we serve.  The more consumers are aware of how, when and where they can get assistance to enroll, the better.”

Many community service agencies have dedicated staff to assist consumers in understanding and enrolling in the new health coverage options available under the ACA. Evelyn Mercado, Community Services Manger, HOPES CAP, Inc. “The ACA has already made a tremendous impact on the communities we serve, but there is still a great need for education and enrollment assistance within our region, particularly among the Latino community.  Our bi-lingual enrollment staff can provide the residents of Hudson and Union County with culturally competent and linguistically appropriate enrollment assistance. A simple, state based, easy-to-use website like CoverNJ that can help people connect to our services will help us all reach more of the people in our communities who need to enroll.”

Gloria Aftanski, President of United Way of Central NJ stated, “United Way continues our commitment to assist the uninsured within our service area to obtain medical insurance, if eligible. We collaborate with community partners including the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, NJ Citizen Action and CoverNJ, and the network of non-profit organizations, houses of worship and municipalities to get the word out about enrollment options and opportunities.“

In addition, New Jersey’s enrollment capacity has been boosted by the presence of SRA, who was contracted through CMS to support enrollment assistance for the Affordable Care Act in New Jersey. Anthony Borges, Outreach Coordinator for SRA stated, “During this second open enrollment period, SRA will have two Enrollment Assistance Centers in Iselin and Cliffside Park. In addition, we will team up with community partners across the North Jersey area to staff events and several co- locations where we will be on available on a recurring basis. CoverNJ is an opportunity for us to connect with consumers and agencies who might not otherwise be aware of our enrollment services.”

CoverNJ.org will be regularly updated with news and information on the ACA. Community groups who are interested in holding events or posting their events to CoverNJ.org can contact the Coalition via the website




Robert B.

News from the NJS-VZ Client Services Call Center

New Jersey SHARES Client Services Call Center has been assisting Verizon NJ Customers since October of 2005 and Robert B. has been with NJ SHARES in the Verizon Lifeline Call Center since 2009.

I have been working for New Jersey Shares now for 5 years. I previously worked 30 years in banking, processing client’s financial needs. I now have the same opportunity to help clients receive discounts on their Verizon telephone bills. I find this very rewarding. I work for a great organization and with other fine co-workers that are dedicated to provide assistance to eligible people in need.

Robert B




Social Security Administration

2014 Social Security Guide for Organizational Representative Payees

The Social Security Administration recognizes your work on behalf of those who need help and we are committed to providing you with the guidance and assistance you need to fulfill your duties as Organizational Representative Payee.

Please share this information with all those Organizations that are currently serving or may be interested in serving as Social Security Organizational Representative Payees.

The 2014 Guide for Organizational Representative payees helps organizations serving as representative payees by providing detailed information regarding the duties and responsibilities of a payee. Organizational payees are encouraged to use the Guide to develop payee systems and procedures to meet the needs of beneficiaries and maximize the organization’s resources.

Guide for Organizational Representative Payees
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/payee/NewGuide/toc.htm

Organizational Payee Best Practices

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/payee/best.htm#sb=1

Best practices provides a brief description of some common practices for ensuring the integrity and accuracy of an accounting system, whether it is manual or automated. Many of these practices are standard in a well-designed accounting system. Your organization may already follow many of these best practices, but you may also find some useful new ideas.

Other Useful Social Security Publications:

When A Representative Payee Manages Your Money
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10097.pdf

Social Security: A Guide for Representative Payees
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10076.pdf

Understanding Supplemental Security Income
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/text-understanding-ssi.htm

Social Security: What You Need to Know When You Get Retirement or Survivors Benefits
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10077.pdf

Social Security: What You Need To Know When You Get Social Security Disability Benefits
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10153.pdf

Social Security: What You Need To Know When You Get SSI
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-11011.pdf

A Guide to SSI for Groups and Organizations
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-11015.pdf

2014 Red Book: A Summary Guide To Employment Supports For Individuals With Disabilities Under The Social Security Disability Insurance And Supplemental Security Income Programs
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/redbook/index.html

You and your staff, especially those who work with beneficiaries, manage their funds, and report changes to SSA should read and have access to the Guide.

For your convenience, the Guide, as well as other payee information, is available online at:
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/payee.

By working together to serve "our" clients, we can make a difference in their lives.

 



New Jersey SHARES | www.njshares.org
1901 North Olden Avenue Extention Suite 1-A | Ewing, NJ 08618-2111
Phone: 609-883-1626 | Toll Free: 866-657-4273 | Fax: 609-883-6364 | Email info@njshares.org
Copyright 2013, NJ SHARES.
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New Jersey SHARES
1901 North Olden Avenue Extension, Suite 1A | Ewing, NJ 08618
Phone: 609-883-1626 | Toll Free: 866-657-4273 | Fax: 609-883-6364 | Email info@njshares.org
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