New Jersey Jewish News

Coping With Economic Crisis Was Focus Of Workshop

Topics included avoiding foreclosure, paying tuition fees

New Jersey Jewish News — Thursday, June 11, 2009

By Elaine Durbach
NJJN Bureau Chief/Central

As the changing economy presents tougher challenges, those looking to find a new job or to stretch their income more effectively are drawing on help from community agencies.

About 10 people participated in the workshop on "Handling Your Finances in These Challenging Times," held at the YM-YWHA of Union County on June 3. The program featured two speakers, Melinda Middlebrooks and Stefanie Rubin, who covered a range of topics, including budgeting with reduced income, paying tuition fees, avoiding foreclosure scams, and how to talk to children about finances.

The event was hosted by Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey's Community Economic Recovery Initiative, an effort funded by the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey.

Carol Einhorn, who heads up the JFS economic recovery program, said that though the turnout was small, the exchange was intense and productive.

"There is a great deal that people can learn from the speakers," she said, "including the fact that whatever their situation, they should be sure to speak with their creditors in order to figure out a plan for repayment of loans or renegotiation of a mortgage."

NJ Citizen Action, the largest citizen advocacy coalition in the state, "is dedicated to helping people," said Einhorn. "They will speak directly to banks and work with borrowers and lenders in an attempt to help people avoid foreclosure."

She said that both speakers expressed their willingness to take part in future events. "Going forward, we hope to incorporate this type of workshop within some employment and networking events to allow people more anonymity," said Einhorn.

Middlebrooks, who earned her law degree at Seton Hall University in South Orange, is the managing partner of Middlebrooks Shapiro & Nachbar and specializes in commercial litigation, corporate and consumer bankruptcy, and state court litigation.

Her experience goes beyond the legal area. Before going to law school, she was an educator in the Scotch Plains-Fanwood public school system and also had worked in commercial broadcasting in Tennessee.

Rubin, a social worker, is a community educator for NJ Citizen Action, which has over 60,000 members and represents more than 100 groups, including nonprofit and faith-based organizations. It addresses a variety of issues, chief among them consumer, tenant, and labor issues.

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