The Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance was floundering in debt. Ron Protas had attached himself to Graham in her last years and, as the result of the lady’s vague will, in l991 took over as the company’s artistic director. After several years of his mismanagement, and the ruination of the famed modern dance troupe, the board had had enough. In 2001 they called in Marv Preston.

He tackled Protas’ proprietorship claims to the dances and the company in court. After four years, he prevailed. Now, as executive director, Preston manages the fiscal end of the company, and has pirouetted it toward financial health.

While gaining control of the dance company was a success, Preston knows that not all business moves turn out well. So, in an attempt towring some profit from past glitches, Preston speaks to a meeting of the New Jersey Entrepreneurs Forum (NJEF) on "What I Wish I’d Done Differently in Starting My Business," on Thursday, September 15, at 3:30 p.m. at the Technology Center of New Jersey, 675 Route 1 South, North Brunswick. Cost: $30. Call 908-789-3424. Note that this organization has changed the time and day of the week of its meetings this season, starting with this event. It has even lowered the price of attendance – from $40 to $30.

Preston’s resume reads a little like a roster of inventions that have changed our lives over the last 40 years. Raised on the outskirts of Detroit, Preston graduated from the University of Michigan in l966 with a B.S. in mathematics. Later, he earned an MBA from Wharton Business School.

Back in the late l960s when computers were brand new, he began developing computer-aided instruction systems for IBM and saw these inventions through to separate profit making divisions. He then used the new science of robotics to help automate operations for the Ford Motor Company. He also helped to develop Exxon Office Systems Company,which handled everything from customer support to product management for the giant petroleum company.

Then in early l983 Preston opted to shift out of the major corporate milieu and into the more adventurous realm of startups. Establishing NewMarkets Inc. in Princeton, a management consultancy, Preston offered his personal brand of hands on help for new and mid-size firms. His services are flexible and dependent on need.

He is often involved in launching a startup, as was the case with HealthTech Services Corporation in Northbrook, Illinois. As president, Preston took the paper concept for an interactive telemedicine service and made it a profitable operation, he says. Homebound patients could get medicines dispensed and receive information while their doctors received all vital sign monitoring reports.

Other times, he is involved in rescue operations. In l990 publicly held Scott Instruments Corporation was out of cash, but had a good idea for speech recognition products. Preston saw the value of security systems that could be accessed by individual voices and ran with the idea. Within three years, under his presidency, Scott Instruments was well in the black with a worldwide distribution, he says.

Whether it’s hardware server platforms (started by Network Engines in 2000) or something as straightforward as Aspen Real Estate, Preston says "I love pioneering a new company and I love the new inventions. But after it’s up and running smoothly, I get bored and have to move on."

As a man who has launched dozens of businesses, and witnessed the beginning of hundreds more, Preston observes that it is in the area of people that most of the mistakes are made.

Don’t pay tuition. The new business cannot afford to hire people who appear to have a great aptitude – but little experience. "The entrepreneur does not have the luxury of a training budget," says Preston. "He needs a salesman and a product manager and others who have each demonstrated top ability. He needs winners with track records." Frequently these verified veterans have reached their limits in their current company, and can be wooed to the less secure startup firm with the promise of more adventure and a large slice of the pie in the future.

Beware chaos crazies. View skeptically those who like entrepreneuring too much. In the course of bringing a company to fruition, a certain chaos naturally ensues. Some individuals feast off this chaos and will seek to perpetuate it. The ideal employee is one who can easily tolerate the chaos, but who is always working toward structure.

Value integrity. In the hard press of new business, you need people you can work with and not worry about. Everyone in business is to a certain extent out for himself. However, amidst all the frenzy, one cannot tolerate manipulation. And of course, while establishing a reputation, even the slightest whiff of impropriety can be disastrous.

Back up your pros. The sole source trap ensnares many small businesses. Every scrap of financial information gets parceled out to the CFO, which can work, unless he gets hit by a truck. Each job and project should have a backup person who shares the basic information.

For Preston, this means that even small firms should consider the option of outsourcing. To prepare for this choice, Preston advises that the entrepreneur define a project’s needs – it helps the owner as well as the person performing the task. He cites Apple Computers, which began by not manufacturing its own computers and were therefore forced to impose on themselves the discipline of knowing exactly what they wanted to accomplish.

Retrain reinventers. Technical fields tend to get loaded up with employees who are very bright and want to do things their own way. For such people complexity is no issue. In fact, they revel in a Rube Goldberg solution. But they tend to ignore all previous solutions. Such folks, Preston says, are definitely worth hiring, but often they must be trained to keep the objective, not the process, as their star.

In the end, a startup company wants a staff of strongly goal-oriented individuals. You may start out with a payroll of geniuses, but do not design your operations for them. Eventually every task is going to be turned over to a mere mortal who will work from nine to five. Your average employee will in all likelihood be an average person. Prepare for that and be ready to hand them the reins.

When you do, Preston will probably roll down his sleeves and declare it is time for him to move on.

– Bart Jackson

Sex Out – Age In for Harassment Suits

‘Hey hot stuff! Bring some of that over to my house tonight and we’ll party." Make this gauche suggestion to an opposite-gender passerby on the sidewalk and it is merely tasteless and disagreeable. Utter those words in the workplace to a co-worker, however, and they could land you out on the sidewalk permanently.

Both federal and state courts have long ruled that employers must provide employees with a non-hostile environment in which to fulfill their contract of labor. Nondiscrimination laws specifically protect people threatened or verbally abused based on their gender, age, race, national origin, physical disabilities, or religion.

The question now facing courts of all levels is how little and what situations constitute actual discriminatory abuse? To help summarize this Byzantine body of current precedent, the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education offers "Workplace Harassment: Update 2005" on Saturday, September 17, at 9 a.m. at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. Cost: $159. Visit www.njicle.com.

This panel discussion includes John K. Bennett with the Roseland-based law firm Connell, Folley, who provides an overview of current precedents, and attorney Michael O’Connor of McMoran, O’Connor, and Bramley in Tinton Falls, who covers strategies in presenting harassment cases for trial. Lisa Manshel of Millburn’s Francis & Manshel explains the new problems of electronic harassment, and Sharon Margello of Ogletree, Deakens & Nash in Morristown tells of the problems of interoffice romance.

Bennett has spent a quarter century defending employers against harassment suits and O’Connor has built a practice around aiding individual plaintiffs, so both sides of the issues are well represented.

Bennett grew up in Piscataway and graduated from Lafayette University with a major in government and law in l977. After earning his law degree from Seton Hall University, and while gaining a masters in labor law, Bennett worked for the labor law firm of Carpenter, Bennett & Morrisey in Newark. In l998 he teamed up with Connell, Folley. Bennett typically sees his clients as people making hard decisions while trying to keep all employees content.

O’Connor still resides in his home town of Sea Girt. After completing a B.A. in law and government in l992, he took his law degree at Fordham University. Since l997 he has been a senior partner with McMoran, O’Connor, and Bramley, a firm dealing almost exclusively with labor law. O’Connor sees his harassment plaintiffs as denied protection by the very corporate structure that should be helping them.

Despite their differing stances, both Bennett and O’Connor agree that the law is needed to ensure non-hostile work environments. The question is, in our litigious-happy society, has harassment become yet one more tool for extracting cash from the seemingly deep pockets of business?

Business on the ropes. The United States Supreme Court recently noted in a harassment decision that "we are heading for an antiseptic workplace in which workers will be afraid of the most basic human conversation." Bennett seconds this warning.

So frequently the crux of a harassment or abuse claim hangs on he-saidvs. she-said testimony. Employers, seeking to settle such grievances in-house, are forced to weigh such testimony with the double-barreled threat of an immense lawsuit guiding their actions. The predictable result is to err on the safe side and fire any accused employee, just to show that the company has taken the maximum step possible.

O’Connor, however, argues that the Supreme Court ruling calling for employers to establish anti-harassment policies and formal training programs has paid off. "This law has not only given potential offenders second thoughts, it has helped businesses become less vicariously liable," he says.

Legal landscape. Every month O’Connor’s phone rings with at least 30 calls about possible cases of harassment. "Most of these laws have been in effect for 40 years," he notes. "You’d think the people would get the message. But from my viewpoint, I do not see the any abatement in these offenses."

Critics, of course, make the point that an increasing percentage of these "victims" are those seeking any excuse to cash in. Bennett keeps reminding juries that the legal standard for harassment is an ongoing condition "severe and pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment." Interestingly, Bennett says, the federal courts and state courts currently lean in opposite interpretations of this statute.

Eight federal appellate courts within the past 12 months decided that the plaintiffs had not shown ample evidence of severe and pervasive treatment. Within the same period, in the district court of New Jersey, the last seven cases all favored the plaintiffs. "There are just too many cases clogging the courts in which the conduct is borderline actionable – teetering on the edge of frivolous," says Bennett.

Beyond sex. The old stereotype of the lust-afflicted male boss forcing his attentions on an underling, while very real, has become a diminishing source of complaint. Probably the greatest new surge of harassment clients coming to O’Connor’s door bring tales of age discrimination. Some of these cases are actual wrongful hiring and firing practices, but many are older employees who claim to have been treated abusively in hopes that they will leave and make way for a younger, less costly replacement.

One national black eye noticed by both Bennett and O’Connor is the post 9/11 harassment of Arab and Islam peoples. With the president referring to the country’s enemies as belonging to an "Axis of Evil," it cannot be surprising that a few individuals get stirred up and make religious slurs. But here again, one religious slur does not an environment make. To be culpable, the employer must knowingly allow a hostile workplace to exist.

Legal bad behavior. O’Connor also notes that, ironically, the equal-opportunity jerk remains above the law. The irascible boss who is unpleasant to every employee – regardless of race, creed, age, or national origin – will have to answer to a higher authority, but he is above the law in most cases as long as he doesn’t stoop to the use of racial, homophobic, or ethnic remarks offensive to his workers.

Another claim that holds no standing in the law is the invented group. All harassment laws are very specific as to which groups are protected. The overeducated, undereducated, overweight, or absent minded will not find any standing under these statutes.

Court decisions. The court system is the last resort for harassment claims that cannot be settled any other way. Recoveries for lost time and wages are fixed. However, there is no set price tag on pain and suffering. This is left to the jury, who are instructed that the amount may be enough to make the employer sit up and take notice, but that putting a firm out of business is not the goal of the penalty.

When O’Connor brings a plaintiff before the jury, his aim "is to hit ’em in the gut." He tries to show that the individual bringing this suit would normally turn to his supervisor for aid, but it is the supervisor who is committing the offense. The plaintiff, thus, has nowhere else to turn.

Bennett also seeks to personalize the situation. He explains that all business consists of personal relationships. The people on trial are merely managers who in the heat of the moment were trying to make very difficult decisions. They were just doing their jobs.

From that point on, the evidence gets laid out, and the outcome – and penalties – are up to the court. For employers, and those they entrust with managing others, a court date is never a good thing. It is expensive and time-consuming, no matter what the outcome. Far better to put in place anti-harassment policies – and to make sure that every manager follows them.

– Bart Jackson

Hiring Is Not a Guessing Game

‘Have You Ever Hired Someone That You Wished You Hadn’t?" Susan Gauff has given her seminar a title that, she says, every one in business can identify with. At some point in his career "almost every employer or manager" will have the experience of hiring the wrong person or promoting "the wrong employee." Finding great employees is not just a guessing game, says Gauff. There are simple ways to learn how to predict which candidate will become the "star employee."

Gauff speaks at the Business Council Breakfast sponsored by the Princeton Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, September 21, at 7:30 a.m. at the Nassau Club. Cost: $25. Reservations can be made online at www.princetonchamber.org.

Gauff has been working with managers to help them hire and retain the best employees for many years. She has worked for a number of large corporations, including the Sarnoff Corporation, Lexmark International, and Siemens Business Communication Systems, where she was senior director. Four years ago she left the corporate world to form her own company, the Growth Solutions Group, which has offices at 66 Witherspoon Street, 609-577-7370, www.predictivehiring.com. Growth Solutions Group "is a human capital consulting firm that helps organizations maximize results by focusing on their people," she says. She works to develop creative approaches to employee-related issues with special focus on measurable results.

Gauff has developed a "unique predictive hiring process" that uses "objective evaluation tools to match employee strengths with job requirements."

So how does a manager keep from hiring the wrong person and "put more stars on the payroll?" First, she says, remember that the quality of the person you hire ultimately affects your bottom line. "As we continue to move away from an economy based on what we produce to an economy that is service and knowledge based, hiring the right people is more and more important," she says. "We are no longer hiring people just to count inventory. We’ve taken that offshore. Our product is people."

As the baby boomers age the pool of available workers is shrinking. About 20 years there was a 10-year decline in births. That means that we are now entering a gap in which we will have fewer people entering, and graduating from, college. That makes the need to pick the right employee even more difficult and more important, says Gauff.

While Gauff talks about "predicting" who the right employee will be, her methods have nothing to do with crystal balls or fortune telling. The task is both simpler, and more complex, than that.

Prepare ahead of time. Before looking at resumes and bringing in candidates for interviews, write up a job description and define who you are looking for, advises Gauff. The written "homework" will help in two ways. First, she says, it will "focus you on what you are looking for." Second, it will protect you from legal difficulties if questions do arise about who you hire. "It is a way to show that you have hired to the requirements of the job," she says.

Recruit the right people. Once you’ve decided who you are looking for, how do you find him or her? "In today’s world 61 percent of all new hires are either employee referrals or hired through the Internet," she says. Employers are less likely to use the more traditional methods of newspaper want ads or recruiting firms. A referral from another employee often brings you your best new employee, says Gauff, because your worker’s reputation is "on the line" when he or she makes the recommendation.

Evaluate the candidates. Gauff calls this step, "solving the resume mess." In other words, dealing with a desk that is loaded down with unread resumes. Gauff suggests using one of several Internet-based services that "allow you to evaluate several resumes at a very low cost."

Assessment instruments are "the end of the process," she says and are not a substitute for personal interviews. Instead, she says, they are a "confirmation that you are making the right hire." Using an assessment tool can increase your chances of choosing the right employee. Without the tools the chances of hiring the perfect employee are one in four, she says. With them, your chances increase to three out of four.

Retain the great hires. Once you have hired those great employees, how do you keep them? The first step in keeping good people is to hire good people, but there is more to it that, says Gauff.

Giving an employee work that builds on their strengths, not their weaknesses, is one of the best ways to do just that, she says. Learn not only what their aptitudes are, but their preferences, and give them work that matches.

"A person may have a high aptitude for a certain type of work but still not enjoy it," she says. "Someone may be very good at math, for example, but not enjoy it because they prefer an assignment where they are around people."

"Be careful how you reward someone," she adds. "Too often the reward for doing work well is getting more work that someone else doesn’t want to do."

Promote carefully. Another typical problem for employers, says Gauff, is "promoting a great worker who then becomes a terrible manager." Before promoting an employee, she suggests, take the time to really get to know him. Gauff’s "Platinum Rule" for managers: "Understand each employee and treat them how they want to be treated – not how you want to be treated." Managing employees "as individuals and remembering that every person is different" is the key to getting and keeping good employees, she says.

Learning about each individual’s likes and dislikes, strengths and weakness, will make the job of predicting how they will perform in a new position or promotion easier.

As an employee rises through the ranks of management, she says, the skills they need change. Individual technical skills become less important, while how they handle people and situations becomes more important.

It is not difficult for an employer to assess management and people skills, says Gauff. "There are a number of Internet guides and checklists, but I find a lot of managers are reluctant to spend the time or money to use assessment tools."

Employers who neglect this step are being penny wise and dollar foolish, says Gauff, when you considered the few hundred dollars spent for assessments versus the "nightmare" of promoting the wrong person. "It can cost you thousands of dollars in lost business and lost morale from other employees. You can end up losing other, good employees because they are unhappy with the situation."

Eliminate problem employees. If an employee does become a problem, how does a manager deal with him? The best way, says Gauff, is to "have the responsibilities of the job carefully defined" from the beginning. "Most employee problems are caused because the employee does not understand what the manager wants," she says.

Specific goals and frequent praise and feedback are the best ways to help keep employees on track. "So many managers wait for the yearly employee review to give feedback," says Gauff. "That is too far apart and too formal." Instead, she suggests quick "praise and feedback" several times a week. That way, the manager doesn’t "sit and stew and not get anywhere."

The bottom line, says Gauff, is that no one likes to fire people. Too often, however, managers do not spend enough time in preparing for employees before they are hired. "A manager should spend more time on hiring the right employee than any other single task." The end result will not only be less angst over letting an employee go, but also much more joy over a productive, easy to manage workforce – and an inflated bottom line.

– Karen Hodges Miller

The Skinny on Lean Manufacturing

There are two kinds of cost reduction. The easiest and most popular involves slashing whole departments, laying off subordinates, and shutting down product lines. Senior management loves this method because for one brief shining quarter they can impress shareholders. More arduous, yet overall more profitable, is cost reduction by "going lean" – that process of continually readjusting the manufacturing floor toward maximum efficiency. It is here that the real creativity of management comes into play.

For manufacturers who believe that if it isn’t broken, it could still use some fixing anyway, Middlesex County College offers an eight-session "Lean Manufacturing Certificate." The first class takes place on Thursday, September 22, at 6 p.m. Cost: $119 per session. Call 908-906-5526.

Course instructor Roderick Coward, product supervisor of Kenilworth-based pharmaceutical company Schering-Plough, combines his own years of experience with the course curriculum of the Association for Operations Management.

Coward comes to the manufacturing floor with his own innate sensitivity, honed from years of military training. Growing up in Washington, D.C., Coward graduated from the United States Naval Academy in l992. His next six years were spent mostly on shipboard duty, including 18 months in the Persian Gulf. "It was the kind of atmosphere that when something fouled up, you didn’t have time to ask who was at fault, you only had time to ask ‘how are we going to fix it,’" Coward says.

Carrying this training with him, Coward ended his Naval career with a research and development unit of a civilian-dominated operational team. It proved to be a good preparation for his Schering-Plough experience, one that helped him define the difference between leadership and management, and the need for each.

The very term "lean manufacturing" is actually an old misnomer. Back in the l940s a new breed of executives calling themselves efficiency experts began to develop improved formulae of operation that took on the lean manufacturing label. The actual goals were often not so much trimming costs as improving speed and quality. In the l990s when global competition revved into high gear, both the name and practice gained popularity in hard-pressed companies trying to stay competitive.

For Coward, going lean involves simply removing all non-valued steps and parts from any operation, and replacing them with the optimal use of space, personnel and equipment. Some of the first and best examples came when shipping and receiving departments started tracking every shipment and developing precise delivery times, a step that unclogged storage areas, and halted costly stockpiling. It seems all win-win, but such adaptation is seldom easy.

Cost and psychology remain the greatest obstacles to adopting any shift toward lean. People naturally resist change, particularly when the line is running adequately. Secondly, even minor tweaks in the line frequently entail shutting machines down, establishing new learning processes, and a slow recovery. This makes management, and especially financial officers, wary of making the change. But if a company makes an evolution toward greater value, rather trying to change all at once, trauma is lessened and the odds of success improve.

Sorting it out. The first step begins in mapping out the current work flow. Categorize operations through the plant and seek out redundancies or voids. Blend in photographs, computer art, hand sketches, and charts. By including production volume and personnel requirements at each stage, evidence of bottlenecks become evident.

Frequently the greatest flaws are the simplest to correct. The solution may involve merely shuttling items from unconnected work areas with insufficient product flow in-between them. The trick here is to map everything at once, but not to plan to fix everything at once.

Straighten the line. Legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyon once found that his timber road had grown so contorted that a man would meet himself coming back along the same road. Unfortunately, lot of untended manufacturing plants have grown over time into similar confusion. For Paul, the answer involved hitching his giant blue ox Babe to the road and having Babe pull out the kinks with a mighty heave. For today’s manager, however, the solutions usually lie more in brains than brawn.

Coward cites the example of the manager who wants to change a given work area to perform three processes where only one now occurs. "Everything now must be accorded its exact location," he explains. "The flow of not just product, but of each unused part, must be traced. Pallets can no longer be stacked high near the production site. Debris must be categorized as to where it can be recycled, and transport regimes must be established."

Tweaking the model. Throughout the changing process, remember that the employees provide the best feed-back. "Don’t tick the workers off," laughs Coward. "Remember these are the people actually doing the work."

Check with workers to see if the process is too fussy or demands over-sorting. Bringing some human reality into the picture not only boosts morale, but frequently inspires new methods.

Spreading the wealth. Once a prototype area is established, the evolution of improvement can be standardized throughout the entire plant. Carrying on the same concepts, many of the techniques can expand throughout the entire operation. But be flexible, and adapt to each environment.

North American farms growing wheat are prosperous. But when the Chinese northern provinces tried to replace their traditional barley with U.S. wheat, copying U.S. production methods, millions faced starvation.

Seeking growth rather than perfection. Manufacturing lean is like learning – it never ends. "A company should never reach a point of satisfaction and petrify its process with the idea that the ultimate has been reached," says Coward. On the other hand, he warns against listening too much to professional consultants who would tweak a system every week, leaving workers in an exhaustive state of flux.

Because every new change entails a learning curve, the chances are good that each change will initially lower expected productivity.

Coward’s solution is to be patient. Develop tools for measuring quality and quantity. Monitor these, and above all keep talking with the workforce. Embrace change, but not for its own sake. Says Coward, "Just keep in mind that the goal is improved value."

– Bart Jackson

Scholarships for Journalists

The Religion Newswriters Association invites applicants to its Lilly Scholarships in Religion program, which provides full-time journalists with up to $5,000 to cover the cost of college tuition, books, registration fees, parking, and other costs.

The scholarships can be used at any accredited college, university, seminary, or similar institution. Journalists can take any course they choose as long as it is in the field of religion.

Journalists previously awarded scholarships have taken courses covering a wide variety of topics, including Islamic Movements, Church History, Religion and Violence, Japanese Buddhism, Evangelism, and many more.

"This scholarship turned me from curious to informed. Before my class, I saw church history as interesting but not essential to religion editing. I’ve change my mind," Matthew Strozier, a reporter with the Stamford Advocate, said in a prepared statement.

Saturday, October 1, is the next deadline for scholarship applications, which are reviewed quarterly by a committee of award-winning journalists. Additional scholarship application deadlines are January 1, April 1, and July 1, 2006.

Scholarships must be used within three academic quarters of their award date and only full-time journalists working in the general circulation news media are eligible. A total of $100,000 is available for distribution this year.

All journalists – including reporters, editors, designers, copy editors, editorial writers, news directors, researchers and producers – are eligible, regardless of whether or not they cover religion.

Religion Newswriters Association is the world’s only journalism association for people who write about religion in the mainstream news media. The scholarships are offered through its non-profit arm, the Religion Newswriters Foundation, with funding from the Lilly Endowment.

Complete information about the Lilly Scholarships in Religion is available at www.religionwriters.com or by calling Amy Schiska at 614-891-9001, ext. 3.

Health Watch: Disaster Volunteers

A recent New Jersey initiative has special resonance as the citizens and governments of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama attempt to meet the pressing needs of flood victims.

Recognizing the need to recruit and coordinate volunteers to assist during a public health emergency, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS), in partnership with state county and local health departments, has launched a statewide program that actively involves citizens in helping communities and state respond to a terrorism event or natural disaster.

The New Jersey Medical Reserve Corps (NJMRC) will be a resource of volunteer physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and others with a broad range of skills in medicine, public health, and other support fields such as data entry, security, and hospitality services who could respond to any public health emergency.

The program is designed to identify and register individuals who are willing to serve and volunteer their skills, expertise, and time within their county, city, or municipality during a public health emergency. The NJMRC was created under the auspices of the New Jersey Citizens Corps program, a federally organized program that is designed to strengthen the state’s homeland security activities.

"Our preparedness plans are only as strong as our volunteer base," said Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D., commissioner of the Department of Health and Senior Services, in a prepared statement. "Individuals who register for the New Jersey Medical Reserve Corps will be integral members of the collaborative partnerships that exist between our county and local public health agencies and their local offices of emergency management."

Health care professionals and community volunteers can register for the NJMRC. Any licensed or certified health care professionals, practicing or retired, who live or work in New Jersey, can apply for membership in an MRC. Other residents who have an interest can also apply to the program.

New Jersey counties and municipalities have already established Medical Reserve Corps chapters. Interested individuals can register online at www.njmrc.nj.gov. Select the county or municipality you would like to join. People without computer access should contact their county or local health department for an application.

Volunteers may be called on during a public health emergency to perform a variety of functions needed to protect the health of New Jersey citizens, including staffing vaccination and antibiotic dispensing clinics, shelters and evacuation centers, and providing emergency care.

Volunteers will be required to participate in training and education programs which will be established and outlined by the New Jersey DHSS and provided by county and local health agencies.

For more information, Mercer County residents should call Rosalind Brown at 609-989-3636; Middlesex County residents should call Bruce Ohlendorf at 732-745-3133; and Somerset County residents should call Carole Finnamore at 908-231-6069.

Check-out Relief for Katrina Victims

One of the very easiest ways to give to the victims of Hurricane Katrina is to make small donations a part of your daily routine. Opportunities abound as area stores set up collection areas right next to their cash registers.

WaWa has pads of donation coupons at all of its counters. Signs say that $1, $2, and $5 denominations are available, but only the $1 coupons are in evidence. Never mind, rip off one – or a handful – with the purchase of coffee, lunch, or a newspaper. All proceeds go the Red Cross.

Stop & Shop Supermarkets is collecting monetary donations for the American Red Cross and American’s Second Harvest.

Wegmans is running a checkout donation program with all funds goingthe American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund – Hurricane Katrina.

ShopRite is having its cashiers collect donations through October 1 for the American Red Cross and American’s Second Harvest.

Whole Foods is matching customers’ donations up to $1 million. An employee at the West Windsor store says that $900,000 has already been collected. Donations are accepted at cash registers, and are going to the Red Cross.

Wild Oats is collecting for the Red Cross’s efforts in aiding the hurricane victims through September 30. A spokesperson says that $2,700 was raised in the first week.

McCaffreys is setting aside September 21 as a day to aid the hurricane’s victims. There will be food demos and entertainment all day long. A spokesperson says that 5 percent of sales in the stores will be given to the Red Cross.

National Organizations Take Katrina Donations

The United Way Hurricane Katrina Response Fund is accepting donations at www.unitedway.org and clicking on "Hurricane Katrina Response Fund" or call 800-272-4630.

The American Red Cross is accepting disaster relief funds at www.redcross.org or call 800- HELP-NOW.

Catholic Charities is accepting checks mailed to Catholic Charities, 2005 Hurricane Relief Fund, Box 25168, Alexandria, VA 22313 or calls made to 800-919-9338.

The American Jewish Committee is accepting donations to the AJC Hurricane Katrina Fund at www.ajc.org.

Salvation Army welcomes donations at www.salvationarmyusa.org or call 800-SAL-ARMY.

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism welcomes credit carddonations at www.uscj.org. Click on "Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund."

United Animal Nations’Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) is accepting donations for the EARS disaster fund at https://secure.ga3.org/01/UAN_disaster_relief/nE7q4IW110mbo?.

If you know someone in the south that can open their home to the refugees connect them with www.shareyourhome.org.

State Attorney General Peter C. Harvey and state Consumer Affairs Director Kimberly Ricketts are warning residents to be wary of con artists using the relief efforts as a way to get money for themselves. Confirm whether an agency is registered by going to the Consumer Affairs Web site at www.njconsumeraffairs.com or call 973-504-6215.

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