Posts Tagged ‘2012’

Community Gardening and Its Impact on Seniors

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

 Community Gardening and Its Impact on Seniors

In continued celebration of NJFA’s 15th Anniversary, we’d like to share with you a guest blog from a former grantee, The Camden City Garden Club, Inc.

The Camden City Garden Club, Inc. (CCGC) operates several programs, which provide Camden residents of all ages access to fresh, locally-grown healthy food.  The CCGC’s Community Gardening Program enables 1000s of Camden families to grow their own food in community gardens, close to residents’ homes and promotes fellowship among neighbors.  The Camden City Garden Club provides plants, seeds, fertilizers, fencing, supplies and tips to its members for a small membership fee.

Through the Community Gardening Program, the CCGC works with the community to fight hunger and obesity in Camden, NJ, which is the one of the poorest, most dangerous US cities and also one of the “Top 9 Food Deserts”, according to the USDA. In 2013, the CCGC celebrates 29 Years of the Community Gardening Program, which is “perhaps the fastest growing in the US,” according to University of Pennsylvania study.  Today, CCGC has created and supports over 120 community gardens, 100 family gardens, and 12 school gardens.  The CCGC is helping more than 12% of Camden residents to eat fresh food from these gardens, producing an estimated $2.3 million in fresh produce each year, according to the report by University of Pennsylvania.

CCGC PROGRAMS ARE ASSISTING NJ SENIORS

With support from foundations like the NJ Foundation for Aging(NJFA), the CCGC has increased community gardening with seniors at Camden senior residence facilities.  CCGC and NJFA have also established a Senior Citizen Advisory Council for the Garden Club to improve services to encourage seniors to garden.  The Council has been operating successfully with 10 members, who represent various communities in the City of Camden.  Council members serve as teachers, mentors and guides to advance community gardens in Camden, addressing the particular needs of senior citizens and their families.  They provide the CCGC with advice on the needs of seniors and serve as mentors for those wishing to start-up new gardens and improve their gardening methods.

The CCGC Community Gardening Program is multi-generational and multi-ethnic.  It has a way of bringing together people of different racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds and having them work together to grow food for themselves, their families and neighbors.   The study by the University of Pennsylvania found that Camden gardens were remarkable for the amount of surplus that they produced and their generosity in sharing it with their neighbors.  These programs are especially helpful to Camden’s elderly as they often to not have access to transportation, are on a fixed income and because growing fresh foods is so important to a healthy active lifestyle.

GARDENING AT SENIOR HOUSING & GROWING FELLOWSHIP

Since its founding, senior citizens have always been a cherished part of the Garden Club.  Many of the members were older people who were interested in gardening since the time they were young children.  Garden Club senior gardeners include African Americans who grew up on farms in the South, some from Mexico, Puerto Rico and others who remember gardening with their parents and grandparents on small backyard gardens. 

Through support from the NJFA, the CCGC has been able to expand their services for seniors.  The Club supports large gardens at Northgate I and Northgate II, senior housing developments that accommodate over 50 gardeners.  There are several other community gardens throughout the City of Camden which are led by and cultivated by the CCGC’s active gardening senior.  Some outstanding gardens have been attributed to senior gardeners:  Paul Williams has an extensive garden – both have been focal points of their neighborhoods and a source of a surplus of healthy food.   The CCGC has supported the extensive community garden called the “Men’s Garden” because of the large number of senior men who garden there, as well as, their utilizing the outdoor space as a meeting place. 

INTERGENERATIONAL GARDENING & LEARNING

CCGC’s Community Gardening Program also offers opportunities for intergenerational learning.  Seniors have the opportunity to mentor the Camden teenagers who work as part of Youth Employment and Job Training Program,.  In addition, CCGC hosts AmeriCorps volunteers, young people who are part of the program CCGC hosts who come to volunteer in Camden, help seniors with some of their gardening work in return for learning from them about gardening, food and life.  Hundreds of Camden school children participate annually in the CCGC’s GrowLab Program.  Many of these children have community gardens in their neighborhoods at home, so they often teach their families and neighbors what they learned in school.  The seniors enjoy working and teaching the children what they know about gardening and preparing healthy meals also! 

SUPPLEMENTATION DELIVERED

To help supplement the food grown in the community gardens, the CCGC also operates a successful mini farm stand at the Camden Children’s Garden, which sells produce to seniors to supplement what they are able to grow themselves, with items like seasonal apples, blueberries, peaches and corn.  The Fresh Mobile Market will sell quality fresh vegetables and fruit at low prices.  Some of the produce will be grown at the CCGC’s Urban Farm on 3rd and Beckett Streets in Camden, NJ.  CCGC Board member and supporter, Duffield’s Farm in Sewell, NJ, will also supply produce.  In addition, the newly launched Fresh Mobile Market Program will bring fresh foods even closer to the homes of elderly residents, with a special focus on senior housing.  This program was launched May 2013 at a senior living facility Mickle Towers, along with the Fresh Mobile Partners, including the NJ Department of Agriculture, NJ 5th Legislative District, Camden County Freeholders, City of Camden Mayor, City of Camden Council, Duffield’s Farm, Holman Ford Lincoln, Walmart Corporation, Whole Foods Markets.  Also, the CCGC’s “Camden Grows”, the USDA Entrepreneurial Gardening Program, will enable Camden Community Gardeners to make a profit by selling their surplus of crops to the Mobile Market Program. 

POPULATION SERVED

The target population for the NJFA grants were low income senior citizens.  Throughout the year, CCGC estimates that at least 1,400 senior citizens (20% of CCGC’s 7,000 gardeners have been served).  CCGC has exceeded their goals for Senior Community Gardening and will continue to work with seniors as an integral part of the garden program. 

In conclusion, seniors are important leaders in the CCGC, providing inspiration and direction to gardeners of all ages throughout the city.  There is a great excitement about CCGC’s Community Gardening Program in Camden and senior citizens are an important reason for that.

To learn more about the Camden City Garden Club go to http://camdenchildrensgarden.org/about.html

 

 

Did you know? NJFA is celebrating our 15th Anniversary this year!

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Did you know?

Did you know that NJFA is celebrating our 15th Anniversary this year! Yes, NJFA was incorporated in 1998. It’s got us thinking, “what have we accomplished in all that time?” Well, the answer is, quite a lot. And we’d like to tell you about it.

When NJFA was established in 1998 it was formed with a mission to promote innovative approaches in the delivery of services that enable older adults to live in the community with independence and dignity through grant making to address unmet needs and through increasing society’s awareness to influence public policy. NJFA still seeks to hold true to that mission today, 15 years later.

Here’s how we’ve been doing so far:

NJFA has provided 44 grants to programs serving NJ Seniors.

Those 44 grants total $380,000 given to programs that serve more than 25,000 seniors across NJ.

NJFA provides public awareness through, Renaissance Magazine with 100,000 readers and Aging Insights, a public access TV program with 400,000 viewers, now on NJFA’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/njfoundationforaging

Public Policy- NJFA’s 2012 NJ Elder Economic Index Update Project is a continuation of Policy Work that began in 2009 with the first Elder Index report. The 2012 report adds demographic information to the cost of living report. Data is available in for all 21 Counties.

NJFA also continues to make transportation a priority, following the policy report, “Safe Mobility at Any Age” in 2005, we continue to work with partners like the Voorhees Transportation Center, Motor Vehicle Commission and AAA Automobile Club.

Professional Development-  15th Annual Professional Conference, June 12, 2013 Conference, Jamesburg, NJ. A day-long conference for professionals in  the aging network. Over 200 attendees will hear Nationally recognized key note speakers and be a able to chose from sessions on evidence based best practices and new initiatives for seniors and caregivers in NJ.

So you see, NJFA has really done a lot in 15 years and we hope to continue being a leading force in promoting “Aging Well” in NJ. Visit us at www.njfoundationforaing.org to learn more.

How can you help? When you visit our website, click on the donate here page to make a donation online or print out a donation form and mail it to us at 176 West State St, Trenton, NJ 08608.

Have questions or want more info? Call us at 609-421-0206 or email us at office@njfoundationforaging.org, we’d be glad to tell you all about our work!

After all, none of NJFA’s work would be possible without the support of our donors, partners, funders and of course our Board of Trustees and Senior Executive Council members!

 

 

 

NJFA takes part in Retirement Gathering for a Founding Trustee

Friday, January 18th, 2013

 NJFA takes part in Retirement Gathering for a Founding Trustee

Trenton—The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) participated in the retirement gathering on January 2, 2013 for one of NFJA’s founding Trustees, Margaret Chester. Peg has served as a regional director for Green Thumb (a senior employment program),  a board member of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Department Director of the Middlesex Co Dept of Aging and most recently, Director of Middlesex County, Department of Human Services.

Peg extended the gift of her leadership to the founding trustees of the NJ Foundation for Aging in 1998. She has provided strategic guidance to the daily operations of the Foundation and its growth over the last 15 years. She is truly a dynamic and committed leader.

During the evening, which was hosted at Francis E. Parker in Piscataway, Peg was presented with a a Middlesex County Resolution for the Board of Chosen Freeholders which was presented by Freeholder, Blanquita Valenti. Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan also presented Peg with a resolution from the Assembly. In addition to these two individuals who had kind words to say about Peg, Grace Egan from the NJFA and Peg’s brother Tom also offered remarks acknowledging the hard work and dedication Peg has put into her career.

NJFA greatly appreciates Peg incorporating the Foundation into this special event. And wish Peg  wonderful adventures going forward.

  To learn more about the work of the Foundation visit www.njfoundationforaging.org or call 609-421-0206. The New Jersey Foundation for Aging was established in 1998.  Its mission is to expand innovative approaches in the delivery of services that enable older adults to live in the community with independence and dignity.

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Go Direct

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Go Direct

NJFA has done a number of blogs about Go Direct, a campaign alerting those who receive Federal Benefits (such as Social Security) that they must sign up for Direct Deposit for those benefits by March 1, 2013 as US Treasury will no longer issue paper checks after that date.

There are two options, direct deposit into your bank account or you may chose to receive your benefits on a pre-paid debit card. You can learn more at www.ssa.gov/deposit/

Today, we want to tell you that in this age of technology, scammers are finding more ways to target seniors. The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that they have been receiving reports from identity theft victims that their monthly Social Security benefits had been sent to a different bank account or pre-paid debt card, without their knowledge or permission.

SSA and the Office of the Inspector General continue to investigate and track these cases. The incidents are related to widespread schemes, the same kind of fraudulent phone calls or emails targeting seniors that have been going on for years. Now, the scammers are using this personal information to re-direct direct deposit of Social Security benefits.

David Vinokurov of the Social Security Administration states, “to protect your identity, be wary of any calls or emails from people asking for personal information.” No legitimate company will make an unsolicited call asking for personal information like your Social Security number (SSN) or bank account. Mr. Vinokurov adds, “The Social Security Administration will never ask for your SSN, we have it.”

The SSA does not want anyone to fear signing up for Direct Deposit, they know it is a safe and convenient way for people to receive benefits. Unfortunately, scammers will always find a way to take advantage, so the best thing you can do is to closely guard your personal information. If you receive a call or email asking you for your bank account number, Social Security Number or other personal information, do not give it out. “Always pay attention to your bank statements and your credit reports” warns Mr. Vinokurov. You can receive a free credit report once a year, visit www.annualcreditreport.com to learn more.

Another safeguard through the SSA is that you can tell them that no changes may be made to your account unless you appear in person with ID, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/blockaccess

If you fear that your benefits may have been changed due to identity theft contact SSA immediately. For example, if you have not received your benefits and it is 3 to 4 days past your scheduled payment or if you receive a letter confirming a change to your direct deposit however you did not authorize this change, you should report the problem immediately to SSA.

To learn more about this type of fraud and how to report it, visit http://oig.ssa.gov/report-fraud-waste-or-abuse

 

 

 

 

The Affects of Sandy for Seniors

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

The Affects of Sandy for Seniors

NJFA has partnered with NCOA on a few occasions to share a common message or service. NCOA’s One Away campaign has been something that NJFA has tweeted or facebooked about because we understand that many seniors (and many families) are one illness, one accident, on job loss away from a financial crisis. Now, as it turns out, they were just one hurricane away from financial disaster.

Before Sandy hit New Jersey, we knew there seniors who were living solely on Social Security. Many of them wondering by the end of the month how they’d make do until their next check. Sometimes, making a choice between food or medication or heat. NJFA has been aware of and worked on advocacy efforts for these seniors who are living on the edge of poverty.

NJFA’s 2012 Elder Index Update report shows that more than 25% of NJ seniors have difficulty closing the gap. We know that basic expenses in NJ for a single elder, in a one bedroom apartment are $27,960 a year. To read more of this report visit, http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/NJElderEconomicIndex2012.pdf

Certainly, seniors were among those affected by “Super-Storm” Sandy. Being displaced from their home, losing their belongings, are all things that may have pushed those living on the edge, over it. Those seniors may now be faced with not only how to stretch their dollars, but where to find dollars to replace their belongings or their home.

As we continue to hear stories about the people dealing with the recovery from the storm, we will see people like, Robert Ford, a disabled Vietnam veteran, whose family’s story of trying to save his home and keep him in it, was featured in the Asbury Park Press on Dec. 3rd. http://www.app.com/viewart/20121202/NJNEWS/312020047/Sandy-Highlands-veterans

In the article, you can read about how the family is struggling to find ways and money to rebuild the home and get Mr. Ford back where he wants to be. But it is not so easy for people that were barely making ends meet before the storm.

There are probably also many New Jersey seniors, who like Elaine of Maryland, who was featured in a video about senior hunger put out by the National Council on Aging, had her home flooded and wonders now how she’ll pay for the damage as well as continue to buy food, medication and pay for her heat. http://www.ncoa.org/get-involved/this-holiday-season-give-a.html

To find out about public supports and other programs that might help seniors in need contact your County Office on Aging, http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/services.html

The Social Security Administration Encourages You to be on the Look Out for Scams

Friday, November 30th, 2012

The Social Security Administration Encourages You to be on the Look Out for Scams

Disaster scams are still out there. The Social Security Administration (SSA) issued another warning last week. The scammers are making phone calls and sending emails, posing as FEMA or SSA employees. They ask  for your Social Security number  and bank information, stating that they need it to make sure you get your benefits. These are the same type of scammers that call or send emails claiming that you won a prize and asking you to provide information so they may send you the winnings or even asking you to pay a fee upfront.  Once the thieves have your personal information, they can use it to open credit accounts, buy homes, claim tax refunds, and commit other types of fraud. Most recently, some identity thieves have redirected Social Security beneficiaries’ monthly benefit payments, so the money goes to a different bank account, sometimes repeatedly.

To help prevent this type of fraud, the Inspector General recommends that you:

  • never provide your personal information when receiving unsolicited calls or contacts
  • never agree to accept pre-paid debit cards or credit cards in another person’s name
  • never agree to send or wire money to an unknown person
  • always contact your local SSA office if you receive a call from a person claiming to be from SSA, and that person asks you to provide your Social Security number or other information.

To verify the legitimacy of a caller who claims to be an SSA employee, call your local Social Security office, or Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 1-800-772-1213. Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals can call Social Security’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.

If you find that someone has stolen or is using your personal information, you should report that to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or 1-877-ID-THEFT.  You can report suspicious activity involving Social Security programs and operations to the Social Security Fraud Hotline, or by phone at 1-800-269-0271. Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals can call OIG’s TTY number at 1-866-501-2101.

Disaster SNAP – Food Assistance for those affected by Sandy

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION BEGINS TRANSITION AWAY FROM STATE-SUPPORTED EMERGENCY SHELTERS THIS WEEK

TRENTON – The Christie Administration today announced that due to the success of finding temporary housing placements for shelterees, it anticipates closure of Monmouth Raceway Park’s Club House and the Arthur Brisbane Child Treatment Center – two state supported shelters – this week. Individuals who are ineligible for federal assistance, but require continued support, are working with representatives from their respective home counties’ Boards of Social Services to determine alternative accommodations.

“At this point, most of the individuals and families who remain in emergency shelter are those who struggled financially and experienced chronic homelessness even before Hurricane Sandy,” said Department of Human Services Commissioner Velez. “We’re familiar with their needs and we’ll continue to serve them during this transition.”  

On November 1st, New Jersey had more than 7,000 residents in 127 emergency shelters established to support evacuees and others in need of shelter following Hurricane Sandy. As of Tuesday morning, only 110 New Jersey residents remained in both locations.  Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean Counties each continue to operate a local emergency shelter with a combined census of about 75 residents.

Since the shelters were set up, individuals and families on-site have worked with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state agencies, county social service representatives, the American Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations to develop plans for transitional, short and longer term housing options. Staff from the state’s Department of Children and Families also has met with families to help them find suitable housing arrangements.

“We are committed to helping families who remain in shelters successfully transition to temporary or longer-term housing over the next several days,” said DCF Commissioner Allison Blake. “Our goal is to assure these families remain safe and supported with the resources and assistance we are able to provide.”

Individuals and families moving from the shelters will be given a list of available resources including, addresses and phone numbers to: county Boards of Social Services, county-based Disaster Recovery Centers, state Family Success Centers, state Mental Health Screening Centers and County Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Coordinators.  In addition, they’ll receive website addresses to: NJ211 for basic referral services, NJ Helps to apply for state and federal entitlement programs and End Hunger NJ, which lists locations of food pantries and soup kitchens by county.

“The transition away from state-supported emergency shelters puts New Jersey solidly on the path to rebuilding the lives of our residents who were significantly impacted by Hurricane Sandy,” said Commissioner Velez. “We’re finding longer term solutions for people so they can move on from congregate sheltering arrangements and get their lives back on track.”

Go Direct- Deadline approaching

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Go Direct- Deadline approaching

As we seem to be hurtling quickly to toward the end of 2012, we begin to think about opportunities and changes in 2013. One important thing to know from anyone receiving Federal benefits is that by March 1, 2013 you need to switch to Direct Deposit. When we first heard of this, it seemed so far away, but now, here we are at the end of 2012 and March 2013 is approaching fast.

So, who does this affect exactly? By March 1, 2013, everyone getting the following federal benefits by paper check is required to switch to electronic payments – direct deposit to a bank or credit union account or to the Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card:

  • Social Security
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Veterans Affairs
  • Railroad Retirement Board
  • Office of Personnel Management
  • Department of Labor (Black Lung)

How do you switch? People applying for or receiving federal benefit payments must choose an electronic payment option – direct deposit to a bank or credit union account or to a Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card – from the beginning.

If the benefit recipient has a bank or credit union account, they should sign up for direct deposit https://www.godirect.gov/gpw/index.gd, or by calling (800) 333-1795, or visiting their local bank/credit union branch or federal benefit agency office.

If the benefit recipient prefers a prepaid debit card or doesn’t have a bank account, they can call (800) 333-1795, or notify their local federal benefit agency.

People who have not chosen an electronic payment option by March 1, 2013, will receive their money after the deadline date via the Direct Express® card, so they will not experience any interruption in payment.

In the aftermath of Sandy

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

In the aftermath of Sandy

Many New Jerseyans were affected by Hurricane Sandy, a number of them seniors. In the past two weeks since then we’ve seen many images of destruction and heard many stories of days without power.

If you are still in need of assistance as you recover from the damage Sandy left behind, here are some important numbers and websites to know:

Dial 2-1-1 or visit www.nj211.org to find out about local resources for food, shelter, transportation, etc.

If you need disaster assistance, apply for FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362) or visit www.disasterassistance.gov Please know that there are deadlines to requesting help and that you need to reach out to FEMA directly, they will not contact you.

Your local chapter of the Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/find-help) and the Salvation Army (http://www.use.salvationarmy.org) can also be of assistance.

If you or someone you know needs help coping with the trauma from the Hurricane you can contact the NJ Disaster Mental Health Hotline 1-877-294-4357.

There have been many reports about the help being offered to Hurricane Sandy victims. Countless organizations and individuals have provided, shelter, food, heat, clothing and comfort to those affected. Unfortunately, during times of disaster, we see some people who would rather take advantage of the situation rather than help. Please be on the look out for scams.

One, price gouging is illegal, to report it call (862) 209-0130 or (973) 220-3474.

There have been a couple of instances of people posing as utility or inspection personnel and then attempting to rob the home once they gain entry. Anyone approaching your home as a utility worker or inspector should have proper ID and have no problem showing it to you or verifying the reason for their visit. Don’t let anyone into your home that you are not 100% sure is who they say they are. Make sure to call the police and report any false attempts to gain access to your home.

There may also be people posing as false insurance programs or other assistance programs. Please make sure to always ask for proper ID and verify that the program or services they are offering are legitimate. Report any problems to your local police department.

And for those of you looking for ways to help, be aware of that there are also scammers posing as charities . The IRS has issued a statement encouraging people to look out for scam artists impersonating charities to help Hurricane Sandy victims. Donate to recognized charities only. Some will even try to use a name similar to a recognized organization so be sure to look closely. Do not give out personal information. There are various ways that these scammers will try to reach you, they may call on the phone, by email or through the use of a phony website set up to mimic that of a known charity. Legitimate charities may also be found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Web site at fema.gov.

Call the IRS toll-free disaster assistance telephone number, 1-866-562-5227, if you are a hurricane victim with specific questions about tax relief or disaster related tax issues.

If you would like to volunteer to help those affected by Sandy, you can also contact your local Red Cross or Salvation Army or call the NJ Volunteer Emergency Response Hotline at 1-800-JERSEY-7 (1-800-537-7397)

Recovering from Sandy will be a lengthy process. You may have long wait times for responses from disaster assistance programs, but know that help is coming.

Flu Season 2012

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Seasonal (or common) influenza is a respiratory illness that can be spread from person to person and is caused by human influenza viruses. 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE FLU?

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Body Aches
  • Headache

Flu season usually runs from October until May. The CDC recommends that you get a flu shot before the virus starts circulating. That’s why you see all the drugstores have already had signs up to get your flu shot there.

HOW CAN THE FLU BE PREVENTED?

  •  Get the flu vaccine
  •  Cover coughs and sneezes
  •  Wash hands frequently
  •  Avoid sick people
  •  Clean commonly shared or frequently touched items

 

WHEN SHOULD I GET THE FLU VACCINE?

You should get vaccinated as soon as vaccine is available (ideally by October-November) and as long as flu is present in the community.

 An annual flu shot is suggested for anyone age 6 months and over. Seniors are encouraged to get a shot as soon as they can, as each year people age 65 and over have the highest rates of influenza-related deaths and hospitalizations.

The influenza virus changes every year, so the vaccine changes too in order to combat the virus.

If you need assistance finding a place to get the flu shot visit:

http://www.state.nj.us/health/flu/findflushot.shtml