#b#United Way of Mercer Is Now Back on Track#/b#

As a 30 year donor and annual workplace campaigner for United Way, I was delighted to see that Sandra Toussaint has been appointed CEO of United Way of Greater Mercer County (U.S. 1, January 25). She is a visionary leader who will, I am confident, “lead toward the need,” without overlooking some of the crucial day-to-day programs that families rely upon, such as domestic violence shelter and food sufficiency. United Way had been historically sensitive and fully responsive to these needs prior to Herb Klein’s narrow focus, which permitted mission drift and historically low revenues at United Way.

I was one of the area non-profit executive directors (at Family Guidance Center) who in 2012 fought the United Way’s withdrawal of support for these programs. Our objections were never over the need to be data driven. All agencies had been measuring and evaluating our efforts for years before Herb Klein appeared on the scene.

I wish the organization every success, under its excellent leader, Ms. Toussaint, in recovering and moving past the years of controversy that served to distract from its good works.

Mark Lamar

School of Social Work, Rutgers

Editor’s note: U.S. 1 reported on December 5, 2012, on the clash between Lamar and Klein, which followed a drop in the United Way’s revenue from $10.1 million in 2007 to $4.5 million in 2012.

#b#Take a Walk on Land for Life#/b#

During this gloomy winter now is a great time for you and your family to get outside and enjoy a walk in nature! It is guaranteed to lift your spirits! This past week I was amazed at the calming vistas and variety of winter birds and wildlife at the D&R Greenway Land Trust’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell. It is right off of Carter Road, easy to park, and a great place to just walk!

The D&R Greenway has preserved thousands of acres of open space, many with miles of easily accessible trails within minutes of your home. It has worked for 28 years in New Jersey to protect forests, meadows, farmland, sensitive ecosystems, and wildlife habitat. We want to make sure everyone knows about these special preserved lands and encourage you to check them out and find out what a walk in open space will do for you!

To make sure we can continue our important work, we have launched “Land for Life” to raise funds to continue on the path to save open space … preserving, protecting, inspiring, and educating. A generous supporter has offered to match gifts toward our $400,000 goal. Every dollar counts! I urge everyone to support Land for Life; you can learn more and find walking trails at www.drgreenway.org.

Importantly, get outside! Breathe deeply, and walk our Land for Life! I will see you out there; I’ll be the one with the muddy shoes and a smile!

Betsy Sands

Trustee, D&R Greenway Land Trust, Princeton

#b#Week of Hope#/b#

WOW! As HomeFront’s Week of Hope comes to an end, we are left full of awe and gratitude for all that was accomplished, all of the new friends we met along the way, and the renewed commitment of so many old friends.

The response to our Week of Hope was overwhelming. We experienced again what a wonderful caring community we live in. Over the course of ONE week, 237 new volunteers participated in 28 various volunteer opportunities and special education forums at 6 different locations across Mercer County.

Together, we organized our food pantry and prepared free food bags for homeless and vulnerable families. Together, we discussed the issues surrounding poverty and homelessness in an insightful conversation with leaders of social service agencies. Together, we assembled shelving for our newest service: HomeFront’s Diaper Pantry. Most importantly, together we built hope for families in need in our community.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Many individuals in our community refused to stay silent and generously contributed their time to make a difference for their neighbors in need. Most importantly, they gave our families hope during our Week of Hope – and beyond. We look forward to continuing the momentum with this inspiring support.

The Week of Hope may be over but our shared commitment to families in need is unending. They need you now more than ever!

Connie Mercer, Founder & CEO

Meghan Cubano

Community Engagement Manager

Liza Peck

Support Services Liaison

HomeFront NJ

#b#Time to March#/b#

It was incredibly inspiring seeing the amazing impact of the Women’s March on Saturday, January 21. It was a global outpouring of support speaking out against intolerance. The worldwide marches exceeded everyone’s expectations. This is not a woman’s issue, this is a human issue.

How can we turn this from a moment to a movement? How can we effect change on a local level? State level? How can we fight to make sure we have leaders in Washington representing the interests of all people?

Let’s get focused and stay motivated to turn things around for the midterm elections. We invite you to join us:

Princeton Marching Forward

Editor’s note: This newly formed group plans to meet on the last Monday of each month. For information follow @forwardmarching on Twitter or Princeton Marching Forward on Facebook.

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