Welcome Afghan Families

Refugees from war-torn Afghanistan are arriving at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in South Jersey, one of four military installations. While families will have their immediate needs met while at these facilities, it will take coordinated effort to put their lives back in order.

Public-private partnerships have long existed to help refugees resettle and build new lives. It is not a government-only effort. Below is a very short list of nonprofit organizations in the area that will be assisting the new arrivals. Please consider making a donation – cash, furnishings, or volunteer time. If you know of other nonprofits active in refugee resettlement, please send your comments.

These and other nonprofit organizations work to integrate refugees in our communities, helping to provide the linkages to housing, furniture, job training, employment, etc.

Give what you can.

How to file for your child tax credit

This article is intended for the parents of 55,000 children in New Jersey and nearly 14,000 children in Philadelphia who won’t get their Child Tax Credit (CTC) payment automatically. They are the children of immigrant parents, in households who earn so little they are not required to file a federal tax form, and perhaps even uninsured.

Families who did not have to file a 2019 or 2020 federal tax return, and missed out on Economic Impact/Stimulus payments, still have time to receive a monthly Child Tax Credit payment of $250 to $300 during 2021. Families can supply the IRS with needed information by using the Non-filer Sign-up Tool. The IRS will automatically determine eligibility and issue advance payments based on the information you give them.

A recent survey of free tax filing assistance sites reveals two organizations still helping individuals and families to file a tax return and/or assist in applying for the enhanced Child Tax Credit. They are:

New Jersey Citizen Action, 165 Halsey Street, Newark, NJ. Open Monday – Thursday, 9am-1pm. 888-829-3711. The are operating as a drop off and remote service only site – no face-to-face interviews. Visit their free tax preparation page. They encourage the clientele to visit an IRS child tax credit page in order to manage and receive the Child Tax Credit. This government website enables a family to: check if they qualify for advance CTC payments and submit needed information to qualify.

Campaign for Working Families, 1415 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA, 215-454-6483, provides a number of options including: drop off appointments in Philadelphia, Montgomery County and various South Jersey locations, virtual appointments, and access to free tax software services. They are open for tax filing assistance through September. To schedule an appointment, visit their website at https://cwfphilly.org.

Additional information is available on the GetCTC website, a service of Code for America. Community advocates should also visit the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ 2021 CTC Outreach Resources page.

Summer Camp and Unvaccinated Baseball Players

Coronavirus mandated vaccinations have been ordered in New York City and in the state of California. The federal Department of Veterans Affairs will require COVID-19 shots for their frontline health workers. Dozens of medical organizations this week issued a call for mandatory vaccinations in the health sector. Action is being taken in response to a dramatic rise of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the last month.

This story is in response to a news article written July 15 by Jon Harris and Tom Housenick of The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania, titled, “MLB says too many IronPigs haven’t been vaccinated, so now a youth baseball camp has been canceled.” The Lehigh Valley IronPigs is a minor league AAA team, affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The news article reported that a summer youth baseball camp, scheduled for July 20-22, was cancelled and parents notified because the Lehigh Valley IronPigs did not reach a required 85% team vaccination rate, as required by Major League Baseball. As a result, children missed a camp because baseball players did not get a couple shots in the arm.

A couple quotes are worth examining. One is by Mike Ventola, the IronPigs media relations manager. “We’re disappointed but that’s out of our control,” Ventola said. “Major League Baseball, they have certain mandates we have to oblige by. It’s out of our hands.”, according to the July 15th Morning Call story.

Phillies ace pitcher Aaron Nola, who remains unvaccinated, was recently asked by NBC Sports Philadelphia report Jim Salisbury what his plans were. Nola replied, “It’s a personal choice. Not right now. I’ll keep it at that.”

One hundred million Americans remain unvaccinated. The question to IronPigs players, to the Philadelphia Phillies, to the other major and minor league players, if not now, when? “A personal choice”, “out of our control”. Really?

By last report, as of June 25, seven major league teams – including the Phillies – had not yet reached the MLB mandated 85% vaccine threshold. An email request made to Major League Baseball on the current status of these teams went unanswered. Mike Ventola, in a phone call yesterday, reported the summer camps scheduled for August 3-5 and August 24-26 have also been cancelled and parents notified by mail. Sorry kids.