#b#Bring State Regs Into 21st Century#/b#

Because New Jersey’s regulatory policy has not kept pace with all of the competitive and technological changes that have taken place in the communications market over the last decade, New Jersey regulators are taking the steps to reclassify certain Verizon services as competitive.

As a business advocacy organization representing over 1,100 companies in central New Jersey, we are pleased the state is finally taking the necessary steps to bring New Jersey’s regulatory policy into the 21st century. We believe consumers and businesses throughout the Princeton region will benefit from a regulatory environment that promotes competition, investment and technological innovation fairly among all providers.

However, misinformation is being spread by certain special interests that seek to dissuade the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) from approving the resolution of a reclassification proceeding that has been pending for almost four years. Despite how some are spinning this pending reclassification, the BPU is not deregulating the phone industry. The board is simply reclassifying certain services to reflect the robust and competitive communications market that exists today while maintaining important consumer protections and oversight.

Critics can’t deny that the communications market has changed. Consumers and businesses alike have more affordable options for service than ever before. It simply does not make sense to prevent Verizon from having some of the same freedoms as their competitors do — especially if the state wants Verizon to continue investing here.

The board should move forward without any hesitation. The business community in the greater Princeton region is certainly backing them.

Peter Crowley

President & CEO, Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce

#b#Stand Up To Racism#/b#

We would be remiss if I did not take a moment to acknowledge everyone who joined us at the Nassau Inn on April 24th for our annual Stand Against Racism, especially Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, and Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson.

Our goal was to allow YWCA-USA to make our Stand a signature program to affect systemic change on the national level. We reached our goal when more than 300,000 people answered our call to action to end racial profiling. Concurrently, we worked to stay true to our local efforts. As the signage throughout Princeton so well states: We Must Stand Against Racism Today and Everyday. Kudos to “Not In Our Town” for their awesome work in this regard. We also acknowledge the Princeton Public Library and the Princeton Department of Human Services for playing key roles. Special thanks to the Nassau Inn for its hospitality.

Here in Princeton, our impact is as relevant as ever. Did you know we were recently named by the New Jersey Department of Education as the first non-profit to be certified as a High School Equivalency Testing Center? The Department’s clearly identified need caused us to work diligently to make this happen. Beginning July 10, we will administer the HiSET Test (developed by ETS) in both English and Spanish.

Education is the most effective way to respond to racism, inequality, poverty, and the social divide that is escalating police-related violence. Our message is bold and consistent: society’s challenges are challenges to all of humanity. Our leadership represents a confident, iconic constituency of women and families who are committed to inclusivity, while modeling justice, dignity and peace.

We know what real change looks like. We are fearless in our efforts to see real change, here in Princeton and beyond.

Judith Hutton

CEO, YWCA Princeton

#b#Teens for NIOT#/b#

Recent events have brought to light the unfortunate, prevalent, and detrimental racism which exists in our country. It is often easy to feel detached from the incidents in Ferguson, New York, and Baltimore, but the Urban Congo performance (when Princeton University athletes mocked African culture) demonstrated there is so much work to be done within our own town as well.

Groups such as Not in Our Town (niotprinceton.org), on which I serve as the first youth board member, are actively fighting against racism in Princeton. Not in Our Town’s goal is “that Princeton will grow as a town where everyone is safe and respected.” I have been inspired by the activism of my fellow board members as they advocate for justice, equality, and peace.

Redefy (www.redefy.org), the teen organization that I have founded to defy stereotypes and promote acceptance, was fortunate to work with Not in Our Town at its booth at Communiversity and in a social media campaign. Along with Princeton CHOOSE (the Princeton High School group formed to fight racism) and Not in Our Town, Redefy campaigned with the hashtag #PrincetonAgainstRacism to assert that our town will not tolerate intolerance.

Redefy took more than 100 portraits as a part of our #PrincetonAgainstRacism initiative, which demonstrate Princeton citizens’ commitment to equality. At the Not in Our Town booth, countless positive conversations could be heard about social justice. The atmosphere was truly one of activism. People of all ages were engaging in meaningful discussions.

Ziad Ahmed

Student, Princeton Day School

#b#Stamp Out Hunger#/b#

On behalf of the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, I extend our heartfelt appreciation to letter carriers in our area for participating in the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on May 9 and picking up the donations left at mailboxes along their routes.

Food collected by members of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 268 (Princeton postal area) and Branch 380 (Trenton postal area) has all been brought to the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank. We are busy sorting, boxing and getting the food into the community and to people who face food hardships and hunger.

Stamp Out Hunger is the Food Bank’s largest food drive and takes place at a time when we are traditionally low on food. Summertime is also when we see the greatest demand for food assistance.

When school is out, children who rely on free and reduced-price school meals no longer have access to school breakfast and lunch and family food budgets are often stretched to the breaking point, putting the children at risk for further food insecurity. Even a short period of undernourishment can have harmful effects on children’s health and learning.

The food that came from Stamp Out Hunger will help close these meal gaps for children and their families.

Phyllis C. Stoolmacher

Mercer Street Friends

#b#CASA’s Superheroes#/b#

On April 25 CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties held its third CASA Kids Superhero 5K, and eighth overall at the Princeton Pike Corporate Center. The event raised over $44,000 for the organization.

Nearly 250 participated in the USATF-certified 5k or the 1-mile Fun Run, including nearly 20 teams. Top individual runners were Ethan Seltzer of Manalapan (fastest male) and Courtney Burke of Dallas, Texas (fastest female). Winning this year’s Lawyers’ Challenge was Fox Rothschild, ending Stark & Stark’s two-year hold on the lawyers’ trophy.

Our recurring race motto has been and is “all children need heroes and all abused and neglected children need Superheroes,” which also describes the amazing volunteer advocates so dedicated to the children that they serve.

The mission of CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties is to train and supervise community volunteers, appointed by the Family Court, to advocate for the best interests of children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect. The volunteers strive to ensure the emotional, physical and educational well-being of these children while they reside in foster homes or residential facilities. The ultimate goal of these volunteers is to help establish a safe, stable and permanent home for each child served.

Huge thanks are due to our many loyal sponsors: Mathematica and 1WorldSync at the Ironman level; Fox Rothschild, PSE&G, and Wells Fargo Advisors at the Batman level; Bracco Diagnostics, Diversified Rack & Shelving, HDR, Innovit, Investors Bank, M Financial, Nass-Tech Mechanical, Novo Nordisk, Prism Properties, Santander Bank, Stark & Stark, Szaferman Lakind, and TD Bank at the Spiderman level; and Princeton Sports and Family Medicine, which served as the EMS sponsor.

Funded by H&H Appliances, WPST broadcast from the race site on race day. In addition to dozens of dedicated volunteers who helped out in a variety of ways on race day, Inspirato Visual filmed the event pro bono, and produced a a 3-minute video. Mariesa Black-Thomas of Changing Faces provided artistic face painting for children and adults. Foodwerx kept the runners and walkers hydrated by donating 20 cases of water.

With another successful race under our belts we look forward to hosting a week-long summer training session for prospective volunteer advocates, June 22-26. For information on one-hour information sessions in May and June, please contact Jill Duffy at jduffy@casamercer.org in Mercer County, or Harry Cassidy at hcassidy@casaofburlingtoncounty.org. You may also visit www.casamercer.org.

Randall Kirkpatrick

Director of Community Development, CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties

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