NCJW/Essex Center for Women Supports Women during the Pandemic: One Woman’s Journey

“Overwhelmed” is the word Lisa Purvis of Scotch Plains used to describe how she felt upon entering the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women for the first time. She was having a crisis in the middle of a crisis. While mourning the death of their son, her husband had faced a series of health issues, lost his job, and Purvis found herself needing to return to work after a 20-year absence. “We were experiencing financial difficulties in the midst of several other personal family hardships,” explained Purvis, “and I had no idea what direction to take until a friend told me about how much the NCJW/Essex Center for Women had helped her.”

That was just the beginning of a life changing decision. At the Center for Women, Purvis found the help she needed through their many programs including Career Services, Computer Classes such as LinkedIn, Outlook, Excel and WORD, Career Closet, and multiple Job Club workshops. “The Center for Women provides services to all women experiencing challenging times in their lives,” she explained. “They have been a beacon for me, and I am grateful to have them in my life.” Although Purvis began her journey with the Center before the COVID-19 crisis started, services continued to be provided to her remotely throughout the duration of the quarantine.

Women who come to the NCJW/Essex Center for Women often lack the skills or confidence to seek employment or have the skills but may not be sure how to apply them. Through the guidance of the Center, Purvis gained the confidence and support needed to build her self-esteem. She not only found help in preparing for a career path, but also received the tools to build strength from within. “Every staff person demonstrated true compassion, kindness, and concern,” Purvis stated. As a client of the Center for Women, Purvis worked one-on-one with Barbara Sunberg, Career Services Manager, to explore different career opportunities that best matched her experience and skills. “There is unlimited potential in what the Center can help with,” stated Sunberg, “and it gives us great joy to see our clients moving forward with assurance, hope and ultimately success.” By giving emotional support along with job search strategies, clients are able to reach their full potential. “Everyone encouraged me to believe in myself and my strengths,” Purvis said.

As Purvis so eloquently expressed, “the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women is a hidden gem, and its value lies with the women who work there, which sets it apart from similar organizations. “Life takes many twists and turns, and we never know where we will end up,” Purvis reflected.  “If you are experiencing a dip in your life, feeling down, fragile, and overwhelmed, wondering where to turn – reach out to the Center for Women, they will treat you with dignity and kindness. They will lift you up and get you on your way!”

The Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women has helped thousands of women with job searches, computer skills, and personal empowerment. All services are confidential. For more information visit


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