Cleaners or Killers? Even Don Imus Is For `Green Cleaning’

Don Imus’s radio program, Imus in the Morning, aired on 660 AM, is

objectionable in too many ways to count. There are the homophobic,

racial, and ethnic remarks. There is the unremittingly coarse

language. There are the insulting characterizations of the show’s

guests. It’s embarrassing to listen to, really. The man hasn’t been a

teen-ager in five decades. How can he and his raunchy cohorts find

this stuff funny?

Then, in the midst of the rants, something strange pops up. It seems

that Imus, propelled by his wife, Dierdre, is passionate about green

cleaning products. The couple are convinced that the chemicals in the

cleansers that have long been staples in every home, school, and

hospital ward are killers.

Are the Imuses for real? Have they latched onto a real issue? "Yes"

and "yes," says Priscilla Hayes, executive director of the Solid Waste

Resource Renewal Group at Rutgers, who has even had an Imus

representative address a green cleaning meeting.

Hayes is organizing a green cleaning event on Thursday, July 13, at 10

a.m. at the graduate student lounge at the Rutgers College Student

Center at 126 College Avenue in New Brunswick. The event is free, but

reservations are required. Make them by E-mailing Hayes at

hayes@aesop.rutgers.edu.

"One of the things I’m trying to do is put together a networking group

of people who have green cleaning studies," she says. A newly urgent

concern, green cleaning involves using bio-based products whenever

possible to reduce the health hazards associated with the toxins in

standard cleaning products.

As awareness of the dangers spread, hospitals, schools, and companies

are trying to cut their employees and clients’ exposure. Studies have

been done, and products have been analyzed, but Hayes says there is no

easy way to access these studies. This meeting is an attempt to

collect case studies and to share them with institutions that are just

beginning to green-up their cleaning practices.

Among the presenters at this meeting is Dave DeHart. He is Rutgers’

warehouse manager, and he was chosen to head up a university committee

charged with finding the best green cleaning products on the market.

Hayes, not a woman given to gushing, positively raves about the

thoroughness with which DeHart led the committee. "There is no one in

the country who has done a better job than he has," she says. "He has

an incredible system of criteria."

DeHart, told of Hayes’ praise, wants to be clear that he isn’t a

scientist. A graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson (Class of 1989), he holds

a master’s degree in education from Rutgers. He has been with Rutgers

for 15 years.

"I was just chosen to head the committee," he says. He took the work

seriously, striving over nine months to determine just what green

cleaning manufacturers are out there, and devising ways to compare

them.

"You have to understand," he says, "Rutgers is really a small city. We

have 50,000 students and 12,000 employees." The health of any of these

people could be adversely affected by cleaning products, he is

convinced.

Rates of respiratory diseases of all kinds, including childhood

asthma, are way up because of toxic chemicals, he says. Millions of

work days are lost, and there are even links between cleaning products

and cancer. "A cleaning person gets cancer. You can’t make a direct

link to the cleaning products," he says. "Maybe her parents smoked

when she was a child. But it doesn’t take a leap of faith to make a

connection (to the cleaning products)."

While green cleaning has been a concern since the 1980s, it is moving

to the forefront now. Rutgers, for example, just completed its study

and is about to make a switch to green cleaning. In addition to the

university’s concern for its students and employees, it wants to

minimize harm to the environment, says DeHart.

This is how his committee went about the work of deciding on a green

cleaning vendor:

Green Seal certification. Green Seal, a private non-profit with a

website (www.greenseal.com), uses "science-based environmental

certification standards" to help companies locate safe cleaning

products. DeHart used this certification as a starting point in

identifying the seven companies his committee looked at as possible

vendors.

Hayes says that Green Seal does set the standard in screening green

cleaning companies, but adds that not all small companies are included

in its approved lists despite the fact that their products may be

environmentally sound.

Health rating. Cleaning products are made up of bio ingredients,

including coconut oil and citrus oil, and/or petroleum products, some

of which are more volatile than others. DeHart’s committee looked at

ingredient lists and did extensive chemical analysis.

Dispensing systems. Directions on a cleaning product might indicate

that two ounces are to be used for each gallon of water. "Does the

custodian pour exactly two ounces?" asks DeHart. "Does he use exactly

one gallon of water? Does he measure every time? I doubt it."

This being the case, he says that it is vital that cleaning products

take the guess work away by coming with dispensers that ensure that

each bucket is filled with just enough cleaning product.

Training. One reason that Rutgers chose Rochester-Midland, a company

based in Rochester, New York, as its vendor is that the company

provides thorough training.

Green cleaning products work just as well as petroleum-based products,

says DeHart, but they work differently. "Chemical products are more

aggressive," he says. "They clean more quickly." This means that

custodians might have to apply a green disinfectant and let it sit,

perhaps emptying the garbage in the meantime, while the green product

does its work.

Green cleaning is effective, and it doesn’t cost any more than

standard cleaning, says DeHart.

Or, as a fan of Imus’ patented Greening the Cleaning products wrote in

a letter posted on his website (www.imusranchfoods.com), "The Glass

Cleaner and the All Purpose Cleaner are both GREAT! They clean better

than anything I have ever used. And they won’t kill my husband, nor me

nor our little Sheltie dogs.

– Kathleen McGinn Spring

Even in PJs, Earn a Degree: Diane Campbell

A nursing student in her mid-30s with four kids, eight years and

under, Beth Audet has loved the online classes she has taken at Mercer

County Community College. "It allows me to do work when and where I

want," she says. "I can take the kids to the park and read the

textbook, and I can upload assignments at 2 a.m. after I’ve put them

to bed several times."

Audet, who expects to receive her associate degrees in both nursing

and the humanities in December, has taken five online classes. Right

now she is taking one on the history of American women and is even

considering extending her commitment at Mercer to add a women’s

studies concentration – since her ultimate goal is to work in women’s

health.

Audet warns, though, that students who do online work must be very

self-directed. "You have to have the discipline to do what you need to

do when you need to do it. You can’t start two weeks into the course

and think you’ll catch up. And you can’t think it will be easy – it’s

the same course material as in a face-to-face class."

Once she passes her R.N. examination, Audet expects to work while

completing her bachelor’s degree in nursing, most of which she expects

do complete by taking online courses. Her place of employment will

provide the clinical part of the bachelor’s degree.

Mercer Community College is beginning its next semester for online

courses on Wednesday, July 19. For details, click Programs and Courses

at www.mccc.edu and select "Distance Learning Courses: The Virtual

Campus," or call the program coordinator, Jennie DeLapo, at

609-570-3317.

Over the past decade, long-distance learning has grown tremendously,

and as the technology changes and both the faculty and student

populations get more tech savvy, the mix of classes has changed. In

the 1996 to 1997 school year, the college offered 43 television

courses and 7 online courses.

In 1999 the state made a great leap forward in online education with

the creation of the New Jersey Virtual Community College Consortium

(NJVCCC). The state’s 19 community colleges would offer courses to

each other, and they all agreed to honor the credits from the virtual

classes and not to require a separate application procedure for each

college. The state’s Commission on Higher Education provided training

in course development, and the participating institutions all agreed

to use WebCt (www.webct.com), an E-learning company based in

Lynnfield, Massachussets, for their course management systems.

Five years later Mercer added a new breed of courses to the mix –

hybrids, which combine classroom and online learning.

The distance learning statistics for this year at Mercer illustrate

how distance learning has exploded in such a short time. This year

Mercer offered 31 television courses and 144 online courses, 23 of

which came to Mercer students through the consortium, and 19 of which

Mercer provided for students at other community colleges, plus 14

hybrid courses. The cost of consortium courses is now $96 per credit.

MCCC started with English classes, then added social science and

business. "We started by finding faculty who were interested in

pioneering a new learning mode," says Diane Campbell, dean for

enrollment and student services and director of the Virtual Community

at MCCC, who is particularly interested in educational innovation. A

native of Trenton, she received a bachelor’s degree in education from

Morgan State University in Baltimore, and a master’s in student

personnel services from the College of New Jersey.

Her first job at Mercer was as a job placement coordinator, working

with students and employers. "I expanded that into a cooperative

education program where students were getting credit for work

experience," she says. "I have always had a knack for working with

learning in creative ways not directly related to the classroom."

After several years she went back to school at Rutgers University,

where she completed an Ed. D. degree in education theory.

She was enthusiastic about embracing a rapidly changing area of

education like distance learning. Distance learning is distinguished

from face-to-face learning by being asynchronous, meaning that the

student can "go to class" at any time or place.

The decision about whether to do a course online, says Campbell,

depends on both the course content and willingness of faculty members.

Whereas some courses are a cinch for an online format, in other areas

only the most venturesome faculty are trying to find ways to make it

work. "It is the creativity of the faculty member, along with the

course content, that allows online to push forward," says Campbell.

At Mercer, for example, the faculty has not put biology or chemistry

classes online because they believe students need hands-on experience

in the lab. However, says Campbell, "statewide we see some people who

are venturing out." They have created ways to have students do lab

work at home or to simulate labs online. Similarly with foreign

languages, Mercer has traditionally taught these face to face, but

increasing audio accessibility, partly as a result of wide adoption of

high bandwidth Internet connections, may mean that languages, too,

will soon be available online.

"Social science and business courses have been the most successful at

Mercer," says Campbell, "and the faculty, especially in business, have

embraced online learning and pushed it ahead. If a student wanted to

take a business management degree, most of the courses he would need

are available in a distance format, either on TV or online."

"History works well," says Campbell, "because there are so many

materials available in cyberspace to give the students an interesting

experience."

Creating online classes falls to the faculty, which at Mercer has the

support of instructional technologist Debbie Kell, and it often takes

a couple of cycles for a course to really work well. Kell creates the

course area for the professor, who then adds course-specific

information.

Each course has an "assignment drop box" where the student can upload

assignments. The course software, which shows the professor each time

a student accesses a document, posts to a forum, or turns in an

assignment, allows the teacher to see if a student is falling behind.

"If I see someone not posting or accessing," says Campbell, "I will

call and say I am concerned."

Online classes, which are limited to 22 students, are presented

differently depending on the nature of the course and its content.

The popular "Moral Choices" class, which has sometimes had up to four

concurrent sections, was one of first developed online at Mercer. That

course is discussion driven: Students read authors who may have

opposite perspectives on an issue like just and unjust war,

euthanasia, affirmative action, or abortion. Then in the class’s

online "forum," students must take a position and argue in its favor

as other students continually challenge them. "It’s going on all the

time," says Campbell, and she means that literally. She adds that the

online format works better than face to face for some students:

"People who are quiet in person are sometimes very involved in online

discussions."

Campbell organizes the psychology course she teaches around the

calendar. "The students will know where we are and what they have to

read," she says, "and within the calendar, I give links to articles

and supplemental information." The links she provides helps them

answer the questions she puts in the online discussion forums, and

they often bring in current issues, like cloning and genetics, which

are not in the students’ books. Campbell also includes practice

quizzes, outlines, and tests online.

The college’s Java programming course is driven by projects rather

than discussion. The professor presents necessary information and

students complete projects and return them online.

An English course, on the other hand, will require students to write

essays, and perhaps research papers. A professor might use Microsoft

Word’s "track changes" or highlighting plus marginal comments to make

corrections and comments.

Early on the college did a lot of assessment to determine the

effectiveness of the online classes. "Most of the students said they

would recommend online classes to others," says Campbell, "although

some students say they value the human content and prefer being in

class at a certain time, in a certain space."

Students who get the most value from online courses, she says, are

those who are busy – parents or people traveling with their jobs or in

the military. Campbell shared one example: "I had a student last year

who became ill and returned home to Israel and stayed connected," she

says. But she is quick to add, "More traditional students prefer and

need to be in classrooms. You have to have very high motivation to

keep up and go to class when there is not a time that you have to be

there."

Campbell replaces office hours with online chats at a particular time.

"When they come into the chat room, they will have questions," she

says. "`Have you graded my paper yet? Does the next paper have to be

15 pages?’"

She also holds online discussions. In a recent child development class

on obesity in children, a student working in a daycare center talked

about what she was seeing and how she was thinking about educating

families about nutrition. "We were able to bring in theory about

nature versus nurture and talk about how sometimes foods are richer in

some cultures," says Campbell.

Online classes can also provide a leg up for students with learning

disabilities, because the information is always there, available for

review. Even though they may use tape recorders in traditional

classes, reviewing materials online often improves their retention.

"The students can go back and constantly see visuals," says Campbell.

"They can take their time and slow it down."

Another plus for online classes, which may take a bit of extra student

time because of the writing involved, is that all of the online

discussion improves students’ writing.

"How we evaluate students is a constant discussion," says Campbell. An

ongoing concern is cheating. She points out, though, that even online

students are not anonymous. "After a while, when you are talking to

students online, they develop a voice, and you know them by a voice,"

she says. "If the voice changes, you can be concerned about cheating."

For some courses, English, for example, the professors have solved the

issue of identity by requiring the students to take tests in person.

Looking to the future, Campbell says that new technology is the

driving force. New products, for example, make it possible for

professors and students to "see" each other with web cams while at the

same time sharing documents interactively. Podcasting is another venue

online educators at Mercer are exploring.

Community colleges have to serve both young and old – the digital

natives and the digital immigrants. Their online offerings probably

work best for the millennial generation, also dubbed "screenagers,"

who are used to getting information over screens and technology. "If

we are going to keep them interested," says Campbell, "information

needs to be in the mode they are accustomed to. One of the challenges

in education is to make sure we are adapting what we are teaching to

this group and are also giving access to the digital immigrants."

– Michele Alperin

Retiring Wealth Requires Some Help: Ed Kucharski

Ed Kucharski is a certified financial planner with an expertise in

helping women figure out how to budget, save, and allocate their money

so that they avoid what, for most, is the biggest fear of all – the

specter of poverty in old age.

"My job is to understand client goals, age, and volatility

preferences," says Kucharski. He then guides them in developing an

appropriate investment strategy. He will be sharing some of what he

has learned in "Smart Women Finish Rich" on Wednesday, July 19, at

6:30 p.m. at Mercer County Community College. Cost: $30. For more

information, call 609-586-9446 or email ComEd@mccc.edu.

Kucharski, principal in Kucharski Financial Services in Flemington,

doesn’t do his own research, but he says that he knows exactly where

to get the best information.

He turns to Morningstar, an independent, third-party research firm for

information on stocks and mutual funds, using various filters to

select mutual funds for his customers: management tenure of at least

five years; top quartile of performance for the last five years; risk

rating of average or below average; and expense ratios lower than

average. Then he analyzes the fees and expenses of different mutual

funds with personalfund.com to ensure that a fund’s costs are

reasonable.

To locate money managers to advise his clients about stock selection,

Kucharski uses Clark Capital Management in Philadelphia to help him

pick "the best money managers in the country to assist clients with

positions in individual securities." After performing due diligence on

all the private money management funds in the country, Clark creates

lists of seven or eight money managers in each asset class. Clark in

turn has designed a long-term protection strategy through Glenmede

Trust to protect portfolios by using put options to maintain a 10

percent limit on downside risk.

A financial planner can do something as simple as making people aware

of potential problems. When people retire, for example, they have to

withdraw funds regularly, but making withdrawals when the stock price

is down can decimate a fund.

Kucharski offers this example: Suppose a person had $100,000 in a

mutual fund 20 years ago. Without withdrawals, it would be worth about

$1 million today, presuming a 10-percent return. If, however, a person

withdrew six percent a year over that same time, the fund would run

out of money, even though the fund is appreciating at 10 percent a

year. Why? Because of bear markets. "During a bear market," Kucharski

explains, "One hundred thousand dollars may go down to $70,000, and if

you are taking out $6,000, you will have fewer shares to grow."

"People may be able to do fine for themselves when the market is

rising," he says, "but when the market is going down, they need to

have in place some kind of principal protection or conservation

strategy."

Kucharski bases much of his workshop on David Bach’s best selling book

"Smart Women Finish Rich." Women face unique challenges in preparing

for retirement. Women in the United States live five years longer than

men, according to the most recent statistics. The average age at which

women become widows is 56, and women are out of the labor force for an

average of 11.5 years for childrearing. Consequently, he says, women

must learn how to take charge of their financial futures so that they

don’t outlive their incomes.

Kucharski has several recommendations on how to begin:

Learn about investing. One way is to read one or two investment books

every year. He suggests starting with Bach’s book and then checking

related Amazon recommendations.

Don’t stop at books, though. Learn one new thing about money every

day, perhaps by reading the Yahoo finance page, the business section

of the newspaper, or by following the Motley Fool’s website. Seminars

aren’t a bad idea either, but be aware that some are held principally

to drum up business for financial professionals out to sell products

or services.

Pay yourself first. Set aside money each month in an account you won’t

touch. You can do this through pretax retirement contribution plans

such as a company-sponsored 401K (or for university, government, and

not-for-profit institutions, a 403B) or IRAs.

Business owners with no employees may want to create a solo 401K,

which allows them to put away a substantial amount of money. This can

be a good strategy for the many women who go back to work as

consultants, says Kucharski.

Factor in lattes. Combine Bach’s "latte factor" with his seven-day

challenge to free up money for savings. "On an average day," says

Kucharski, "people start out with a nonfat latte, have desserts,

coffee, and candy bars. They often spend $10 before they leave work."

Even this small amount, put into savings, would yield $2,500 a year

plus interest, which multiplies pretty quickly into a substantial sum.

Kucharski suggests taking a seven-day challenge to find additional

ways to reduce unnecessary expenses and come up with free dollars to

be saved for retirement. For the challenge, you’ll need a pocket

notepad with metal rings (or you can download a challenge form from

Oprah’s website at

www2.oprah.com/download/pdfs/money/money_bach_checklist.pdf.).

For a week, every time you spend money on a credit card, in cash, or

by check, write it down. Then go back and examine what you’ve done.

Kucharski says that you’ll realize there are areas where you didn’t

need to spend money. For example, you could have made coffee at home.

Then you have to convince yourself to invest that money for the

future. Kucharski also suggests imposing a waiting period for impulse

purchases.

Build an emergency fund for unexpected expenses. Try to find a place

that pays better than low-interest savings and checking accounts at

banks. Kucharski suggests exploring money-market checking as well as

ING Bank’s no-minimum savings account (www.ingbank.com), which is

currently giving 4.25 percent interest and is FDIC insured, with no

fees or service charges.

Review your wills and insurance programs. The most disciplined,

focused savings plan can be wiped out in no time at all by a simple

fall that breaks a bone or two and forces you to leave work for months

on disability.

Fill three baskets. The last step is to build an investment portfolio

that comprises three baskets of money, to ensure sufficient funds for

different types of needs.

For short-term requirements of the next two years or less, use money

markets, certificates of deposit, and savings accounts. For the next

two to five years, invest in individual bonds, government savings

bonds, Treasury bills, and bond mutual funds. For your dream basket,

for goals out five or more years, like education or retirement, invest

in stocks, mutual funds, and balanced funds (a mutual fund with a

balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds for generating a well-balanced

return of both current income and long-term capital gains).

How you allocate your longer-term assets will depend on the length of

time they will be invested, your age, and your tolerance for

risk/volatility. Kucharski suggests diversifying your holdings across

large, medium, and small companies, as well as internationally, and to

balance your portfolio between value and growth orientations.

A value stock is one that has dropped out of favor and whose price is

currently depressed, but that money managers believe will do better in

the future. For example, McDonald’s dropped to $12 a share a few years

ago while the company was in the midst of changing management and

varying its menu. "A value manager would buy with the confidence that

these changes would translate to a better price in the future," says

Kucharski.

A growth stock, like Google, is one that has experienced significant

near-term growth that is expected to continue; and the price is rising

in expectation of this future growth.

Kucharski grew up in Bridgewater, where his mom was a homemaker and

his dad worked as a machinist at Ethicon, a division of Johnson &

Johnson, for 30 years. He was definitely not headed toward finance

when he graduated from Westchester University in Pennsylvania with a

B.S. in criminal justice. He had hoped to work for the FBI, but during

the 1979 to 1980 recession, when he was looking for his first job, the

FBI had a freeze on hiring. He joined Prudential Insurance for three

years and then moved to American Express Financial Advisors, where he

stayed from 1984 to 1988.

Then he became an independent0 advisor under the name Kucharski

Financial Services and received the Certified Financial Planner

trademark designation in 1989 from the College of Financial Planning

in Denver, Colorado. He took some of the training by correspondence

and online, as well as through classes at Fairleigh Dickinson

University. In December, 2000, his company joined FSC Securities, an

operating unit of AIG Advisor Group,

He stresses that financial planning is essential – but that no one

needs to go it alone. Financial information is bountiful. It’s on the

Internet, at community colleges, and available through financial

advisors. It just takes motivation to overcome financial inertia –

even though the piggy bank on the chest of drawers just seems easier.

– Michele Alperin

Corporate Angels

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Central and South Jersey

Affiliate hosted a cocktail reception at the Governor’s

Mansion-Drumthwacket on May 18 to honor this year’s recipients of the

Spirit of Jane Rodney Award.

Jonathan R. Pearson, community relations executive, and Greg Visicaro,

event marketing consultant, both of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of

New Jersey, received the award for their impact on the breast cancer

community through their accomplishments, leadership, inspiration and

dedication to the fight against breast cancer.

Rodney, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988, was instrumental

in bringing the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation New Jersey

Race for the Cure to New Jersey in 1994. Before her death, in 2002,

she made it her mission to educate women about the importance of early

detection and to help those who had already been diagnosed

(www.komencsnj.org).

Over 300 guests attended the event with over 70 volunteers. Through

ticket sales, silent auction, and live auctions, the affiliate raised

$100,000, $30,000 more than last year. In a project that raised more

than $6,000, attendees "bought" $100 mammograms for women who could

not otherwise afford one.

Approximately 2,000 people participated in the March of Dimes’

WalkAmerica event, Rangeela 2006, at Mercer County Park, helping to

raise more than $422,000 in support of March of Dimes’ efforts to save

babies from premature birth. Vijay Deshpande of Plainsboro, an agent

with Allstate New Jersey, played a role in the fundraising effort.

As the March of Dimes’ biggest annual fund-raiser, WalkAmerica aids

the fight against prematurity – a growing crisis that affects half a

million babies born in the United States every year

(www.marchofdimes.com).

According to event organizers, the number of babies born prematurely

each year has increased by 30 percent since 1983. In New Jersey more

than 14,000 babies are born prematurely every year. Some of those

babies die; others face lifelong disability. The money raised during

Rangeela 2006 and other WalkAmerica events support research and

programs to find out how to prevent premature births and how to help

families who experience it.

As part of the 40th anniversary celebration for Hillier Architecture,

Hillier staffers picked up hammers, donned safety goggles, and got

their hands dirty on June 17 to help the Trenton Chapter of Habitat

for Humanity build three new homes on North Clinton Avenue in Trenton.

Melinda Sherwood, Carl Counts, Enis Piskiner, and Gwen McNamara

erected interior walls and cleared construction debris from the site,

which will eventually hold a single family home and duplex.

"As architects and as a firm, one of the things we strive to do is

improve the communities around us, and, subsequently, raise the

quality of life of people everywhere," said J. Robert Hillier, founder

and chairman of the board of Princeton-based Hillier Architecture in a

press release. "As busy as we can get, we rarely get an opportunity to

take that vision and commitment out of the office and into our

neighborhoods, where we can work with our hands and hearts, not just

our minds."

Grant Awarded

With a grant from the offices on Aging and the Disabled of Mercer

County, the United Way of Greater Mercer County partnered with

Interfaith Caregivers of Trenton and Princeton Senior Resource Center

to provide air conditioning units to medically fragile elderly and

disabled citizens. West Windsor Plainsboro High School North’s

football players helped UWGMC volunteers from Young Leaders United to

deliver the units.

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