#b#ummer Camps Vital For All Income Levels#/b#

Once again, I was heartened to read your Summer Camp issue. I enjoyed seeing the highlights of day and residential camp programs that help young people develop a vast array of skills that include cooking, gardening, traditional sports, STEM, acting, writing, coding and more. I wish I were young again and able to take advantage of these opportunities.

Unfortunately, there are children from low-income communities who have their whole lives ahead of them but who have fewer opportunities to participate in programs like these. Research points to the substantial gulf in spending on children’s enrichment and extracurricular activities, depending on economic strata. Research also shows that low-income students experience more summer learning loss than their higher income peers because they are less likely to participate in summer learning programs.

As Andy Pritikin, ACA president and owner of Liberty Lake Day Camp pointed out in U.S. 1 this past week, the “3Rs” educators focused on for the past 150 years have been joined if not overtaken in importance by “soft skills” like communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical-thinking. These are also critically important for success in the new world of work. In order to break out of cycles of poverty and under-resourced communities, young people need all the skills to succeed in the modern world.

For the past 25 years, I have been deeply involved with the Princeton-Blairstown Center, an organization that was founded 109 years ago by Princeton University undergraduates. The Center provides high-quality summer experiences free of charge to young people from low-income communities. During the upcoming summer we will provide, for example, 200 young people from Trenton with enriching and educational experiences that are usually reserved for their more affluent peers against whom they will be competing for jobs. I urge everyone in our community to support evidenced-based programs like ours that teach critical social-emotional skills like communication, critical, thinking, creativity, and collaboration and which help to reduce learning losses over the summer. Our kids’ futures depend on it. Come to think of it, so do ours.

Mark L. Antin, Esq.

Trustee and Former Board Chair, Princeton-Blairstown Center

For more information on the Princeton-Blairstown camp, visit www.princetonblairstown.org.

#b#Thanks from Big Brothers/Sisters#/b#

On February 11 the very first “Music for All Seasons” event was held at the Salt Creek Grille Princeton. The night featured the force-of-nature funk band from New York City, Milo Z, and benefited Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Mercer County. The organization’s mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring professionally supported 1-1 relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.

Net proceeds of $4,500 will go to BBBS Mercer County. Many thanks to our nearly 90 guests, many of whom spent a good portion of the performance time up and dancing to the amazing Milo Z Band, (the former house band for Carson Daly’s Up All Night show). We deeply appreciate the signature sponsorship of Fox Rothschild LLP; the firm’s founding partner Charles Fox was also a co-founder of the original Big Brothers Association in Philadelphia more than a century ago. We’d like to thank our two generous music sponsors, Diversityinc and Highlander Consulting.

We’re very grateful for the exceptional graphic design services and night-of photography donated by Jessi Franko of Jessi Franko Designs LLC in Hamilton. Videography (also donated) was provided by Wright Seneres, who is producing a very fine and funky 15-minute event video.

Finally, this is the first of four “Music for All Seasons” events to be staged this year. A fortuitous conversation at the Blue Note in NYC last June with a fellow jazz lover, Princeton resident and Born Group CFO Sandeep Kulkarni, spurred the idea of filling a perceived gap in the live performance scene with a quarterly jazz series. The initial “jazzcentric” idea morphed into a broader music concept and, importantly, the goal to benefit different Central Jersey-based nonprofit organizations.

Our next Music for All Seasons concert, on Saturday, May 6, will again be held at Salt Creek Grille and will feature blues guitar legend Jimmy Thackery and his trio. This second in the series will benefit Hugs for Brady (hugsforbrady.org), a groundbreaking pediatric cancer-focused nonprofit based in Kendall Park. For sponsorship information, contact Randall Kirkpatrick at rpkirkpatrick71@gmail.com or 732-259-7955. Tickets will be available later in March.

Randall Kirkpatrick

Music for All Seasons Founder

Senior Account Director, Highlander Consulting

#b#Protecting Medicare#/b#

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump made a crystal-clear pledge to protect Medicare and Social Security. Now, as his term begins, older voters are counting on Congress to support President Trump’s vow. This issue is looming because some in Congress are pushing for a drastic change in Medicare that threatens to increase costs and risks for those who depend on it.

Proposals to create a voucher system, sometimes called premium support, could drive up costs that the 1.3 million New Jersey residents who are now in Medicare have to pay out of their own pockets. And the pain will spread, as another 1.8 million of our state’s older residents enroll in Medicare over the next 15 years.

Americans have earned their Medicare benefits by paying taxes throughout their working lives. As our new president declared last year, “You made a deal a long time ago.” That deal does not include cutting benefits and pushing up health care bills at a time in life when people can least afford it.

Yes, health care costs must be contained, but in a fair and responsible way, not by harming hard-working Americans and retirees. Trump understands this vital principle, and we urge him to remind those in Congress who do not.

Brian McGuire


#b#Housing Update#/b#

Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent to Kevin D. Walsh, executive director of the Fair Share Housing Center in Cherry Hill.

Princeton Community Housing recently wrote to the Princeton Mayor and Council, urging them to come to a settlement in their affordable housing suit without mentioning that your organization, the Fair Share Housing Center, is the other party in the negotiation to determine Princeton’s fair share allocation of affordable homes.

We also neglected to mention that The NJ Supreme Court required a Special Master to participate in all affordable housing lawsuits as a neutral mediator, to facilitate such settlements.

We have successfully partnered with Princeton officials to provide 466 affordable rental homes in our town and we are currently collaborating on preliminary planning to provide additional rental homes at Princeton Community Village, in accordance with the municipal housing plan.

In addition, the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ awarded Princeton its Outstanding Municipal Partner Award in 2014 in recognition of the municipality’s leadership in and commitment to the creation of affordable homes. In the past two years the Avalon Bay and Merwick Stanworth properties have provided a total of 112 new rental homes in Princeton.

We also recognize and appreciate Fair Share Housing Center’s role as the leading advocate for those who still need such affordable homes and the approximately 100 settlement agreements that Fair Share Housing Center has successfully realized with other NJ municipalities.

Given this history, we are sure that both sides of any Princeton-related negotiations are represented by people of good will who can find a mutually acceptable solution. As providers of affordable homes, we know that planning and creating new homes is a time consuming endeavor.

Accordingly, we urge Fair Share Housing Center to make such negotiations with Princeton a priority, in order that Princeton can join Ewing, Hamilton, and Robbinsville as Mercer County towns ready to develop an achievable compliance plan that will provide for each of their fair shares of the affordable homes that Mercer County will need between now and 2025.

Rich Gittleman

President, Board of Trustees

Princeton Community Housing

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