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Barbara Gomes, Joyce Campbell & Jim Jacob
Catholic Charities Hosts 15th Anniversary Event
Recently, we were honored to present Joyce Campbell (pictured here, center), the Associate Executive Director for External Affairs at Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton and current Chair of the NJ SHARES Board, with the NJ SHARES Neighborhood Hero award for her years of dedicated service and leadership on the Board. The award was given at the NJ SHARES 15th Anniversary Event in Trenton on last week.
Prior to her current role, Joyce oversaw the agency's anti-poverty programs and saw firsthand the day-to-day struggles many working families have. Striving to make ends meet meant the choice of "heating or eating" decisions on a regular basis.
Prior to her 17 years at Catholic Charities, Joyce worked in various community settings in health and mental health organizations. She is a passionate advocate for ending poverty and participates in numerous coalitions, including co- chairing the Anti-Poverty Network of NJ (APN). Joyce also serves on the Board of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Mercer and on the Legislative and Social Action Committee of NASW-NJ (National Association of Social Workers - NJ Chapter).
Joyce has served on the NJ SHARES' Board since our infancy and has been instrumental in shaping the organization's mission and focus since 2000.
We are pleased to be able to recognize the leadership and commitment that Joyce and Catholic Charities' bestow to help their neighbors in crisis, with this Neighborhood Hero Award.
LIHEAP Action Day 2014
LIHEAP Action Day
NJ SHARES joined the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC), in Washington on March 26, 2014 for LIHEAP Action Day, a day of advocacy for the federal energy assistance program. More than 100 people spent the day on Capitol Hill for meetings with their Congressional delegations, urging them to restore funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to at least $4.7 billion for Fiscal Year 2015.
According to a recent NEUAC advisory, over the past several years, funding for LIHEAP has fallen nearly one-third from $5.1 billion to $3.4 billion, while the need for energy assistance for our most vulnerable populations has increased. These funding cuts have resulted in smaller assistance grants and fewer households served, severely limiting the program's effectiveness.
NJ SHARES at the OUTPOST
Delicious Heights OUTPOST Hosts Dine to Donate for NJ SHARES
Delicious Heights OUTPOST in Basking Ridge hosted a Dine to Donate for NJ SHARES on Thursday, March 20, 2014. This Thursday, the restaurant and bar were crowded with folks from open to close celebrating special events and good time – many were there for the opening tip off of the 2014 March Madness NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament! DH OUTPOST donated 5% of every check to NJ SHARES to help neighbors in need with their utility bills.
NJ SHARES would like to thank all the Neighborhood Heroes who joined DH OUTPOST in supporting NJ SHARES as we continue to provide critically needed assistance during this extremely cold winter.
NJ SHARES at the GI GO Fund Job Fair
NJS Attends the GI GO Fund 6th Annual Job Fair
Over 500 military veterans and their families met with more than 70 employers and organizations who were on hand at the 6th Annual Newark Veterans Job Fair on Friday, March 21, 2014 at Rutgers-Newark’s Paul Robeson Campus Center. The event was hosted by the GI Go Fund, in partnership with Mayor Luis Quintana, the City of Newark, the Department of Labor One-Stop Career Center, Soldier On, AXA Equitable, and Rutgers-Newark.
There were 72 businesses and organizations participating in this event, including Johnson & Johnson, NJ SHARES, PSEG, Panasonic North America, Wells Fargo, Coca-Cola, New Jersey State Police, and the FBI.
Countless veterans participating in this job fair received assistance with their resumes and job interview skills. Many had already had attended the Military Career Workshop at the Johnson & Johnson headquarters in New Brunswick the Saturday prior to the Job Fair. NJ SHARES participated as a safety net for veterans who might be having difficulty making ends meet while they look for employment. We provided informational brochures and co-branded items to help spread the word that utility assistance is available.
Jim Jacob, NJS' President and CEO
Spring is officially here in the Garden State – and all of us at NJ SHARES are ready to welcome milder weather after a particularly harsh, bitterly cold and snowy winter season.
While the promise of warmer weather is right around the corner, we continue to see many of our neighbors struggling under the weight of large utility bills that have piled up over the past couple of months.
NJ SHARES is ready to step-in: to Offer Hope and Deliver Help to those households in need.
Our work would not be possible without the strategic partnerships we have formed with utility and telecommunication companies throughout the state. These partners continue to find solutions for New Jersey’s working poor, moderate and fixed income population.
Verizon New Jersey is one of those partners who work with NJ SHARES to make residential telephone service more affordable to those in need through the Communication Lifeline program. Through this program, existing qualified, low-income Verizon residential customers are eligible to receive discounted local telephone service. For enrollment information and to see if you qualify for this program, visit our website here or call us at 1-888-337-3339.
NJ SHARES also partners with United Water and New Jersey American Water to help administer two assistance programs for those in need. United Water’s UW Cares program provides relief to people facing a temporary financial crisis by administering grants to help pay the water bills of households in need through a network of community-based social service agencies in United Water’s service territories. Similarly, New Jersey American Water’s H2O Help to Others Program™ provides grants up to $500 for eligible customers to help pay their water bill.
In efforts to continue cultivating valuable new relationships, I once again attended the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Action Day in Washington, D.C. on March 26. Sponsored by the National Energy & Utility Affordability Coalition, this annual event brings together energy assistance organizations from across the nation and key elected officials and their staff members who support energy assistance programs. I am pleased that I was able to attend this important day of advocacy on behalf of NJ SHARES and all those we serve – it is critical that our elected officials continue to provide support for energy assistance programs that provide much-needed financial relief and utility services to those facing a financial crisis. We are fortunate that in New Jersey our legislators understand and support LIHEAP.
The LIHEAP program will close for the season on April 30, 2014. Until the program starts again in October, there are options (i.e. the Universal Service Fund) available for income-eligible households that are still struggling to pay their utility costs.
Together with our Legislative partners, our utility and telecommunications partners, our donors, friends, and our agency partners, NJ SHARES will continue to serve as a safety net for those who do not qualify for other assistance programs. For more information on any of the programs offered by our valued partners above, as well as any of our energy assistance programs, visit our website www.njshares.org or call our toll-free hotline today – 1-866-NJSHARES (657-4273).
Our neighbors are our #1 priority – as we “spring” ahead into a new season, let’s continue to provide the necessary support and assistance to those who need it the most.
|a message from your legislator
Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula
Our Inaugural Article from Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D) from the 17th Legislative District
Throughout my tenure in the General Assembly and as Chairman of the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee, I have had the pleasure to work alongside New Jersey SHARES, Inc., aiming to provide energy, telephone, and water assistance to individuals in need due to unforeseen circumstances. These are individuals and families right here in New Jersey, and at times they may just be our neighbors. These families are not asking for a handout, but are seeking temporary support and the resources necessary to lift themselves up by their bootstraps to continue to be a contributing member of society.
New Jersey SHARES’ strong reputation as one of our state’s leading “help” organizations is why I hold it in such high regard. As an elected leader, many times I serve as the intermediary between an individual and a solution, especially following the hard economic times we witnessed a few short years ago. Still, to this day, plenty of folks are out of a job and have recently lost their benefits. The February unemployment numbers for New Jersey (7.1%) still lag behind the national unemployment rate (6.7%), and the total unemployed individuals in our state has increased to 317,751. But New Jersey SHARES has always responded to the call, bringing its experience and strong network to provide energy assistance in troubling times, without falter.
Moving forward, I am excited to continue a strong working relationship with New Jersey SHARES and to progress our community as we build a stronger economy. For individuals to get themselves back, at times they need a little assistance in some basic needs for their families, and I am proud to stand with New Jersey SHARES as they do just that.
Upendra J. Chivukula
Deputy Speaker, New Jersey General Assembly (District 17)
Chairman, Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities
Upendra Chivukula is a New Jersey Assemblyman in district 17 serving Franklin, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Piscataway, & Milltown, and Deputy Speaker of the General Assembly. For more information on Assemblyman Chivukula visit [http://chivukulanj.com/], “Like” on Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/chivukulanj], and “Follow” on Twitter [https://twitter.com/UChivukulaNJ]
Betty Harden, Arlene Almonte, Mujiba Salaam-Parker & Dalia Gonzales of Camden OEO
Camden County Council On Economic Opportunity (OEO)
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 highlight the Camden County Council On Economic Opportunity ( Camden OEO), Inc.
Camden OEO provides programs and services to help economically disadvantaged individuals and families residing in Camden County. They arrange for or provide material assistance that gives immediate relief to economically disadvantaged persons in emergency circumstances. The agency’s ultimate goal is helping clients achieve self-sufficiency with an action plan for uplifting low-income individuals and families in Camden County and providing programs and services to help them achieve self-sufficiency.
‘Our long standing partnership with NJ SHARES goes hand in hand with the agency’s goal. By relieving the energy burden of the people who need it in our community, the financial assistance allows them to focus on other ways that would help them achieve self-sufficiency’ said Mujiba Salaam-Parker, Grants Manager, Camden County Council on Economic Opportunity, Inc
Client Service Rep Jen S.
News from the NJS-VZ Client Services Call Center
New Jersey SHARES Client Services has been assisting Verizon NJ Customers since October of 2005. Jennifer S. started with NJS when the doors opened. She has touched the lives of so many New Jerseyans in need. Jennifer answers phones, processes applications and handles paperwork at NJS for the Communications Lifeline Program. She has a wealth of knowledge and understands all aspects of the program.
“Working for NJ SHARES has truly been a rewarding experience. Since starting with the company in 2005 I feel I have touched so many lives. Helping people has always been my passion. Through the years I have helped keep communication possible for families facing difficult financial times. Working hand in hand with our agencies and clients, NJ SHARES has made the Verizon Communications Lifeline accessible to many clients in need. I sincerely hope we continue to grow stronger each year and touch as many clients as possible.” Jennifer S.
If you need assistance paying your telephone bill, call us to see if you qualify for the VZ-NJ Communications Lifeline Benefits. 1-888-337-3339.
Social Security Administration
Income Taxes and Your Social Security Benefits
Think www.socialsecurity.gov first!!!
With tax season upon us, many of you have asked about Income Taxes and Your Social Security Benefits. Some people have to pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return) in addition to your benefits.
Note: No one pays federal income tax on more than 85 percent of his or her Social Security benefits based on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules. If you:
file a federal tax return as an "individual" and your combined income* is
· between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
· more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
file a joint return, and you and your spouse have a combined income* that is
· between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits
· more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
· my Social Security is the site where people age 18 and older who have a work history may check their annual Social Security earnings.
Withholding Income Tax From Your Social Security Benefits
You can ask us to withhold federal taxes from your Social Security when you apply for benefits.
If you are already receiving benefits or if you want to change or stop your withholding, you'll need a form W-4V from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
You can download the form, or call the IRS toll-free number 1-800-829-3676 and ask for Form W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request. (If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the IRS TTY number, 1-800-829-4059.)
When you complete the form, you will need to select the percentage of your monthly benefit amount you want withheld. You can have 7%, 10%, 15% or 25% of your monthly benefit withheld for taxes.
Note: Only these percentages can be withheld. Flat dollar amounts are not accepted.
Sign the form and return it to your local Social Security office by mail or in person.
If you need more information:
If you need more information about tax withholding, read IRS Publication 554, Tax Guide for Seniors, and Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits.
If you have questions about your tax liability or want to request a Form W-4V, you can also call the IRS at 1-800-829-3676 (TTY 1-800-829-4059).