Author Archives: Andrew Dauphinee

About Andrew Dauphinee

Education and learning are passions of mine. Lifelong learning is a core part of who I am and I strive to pass that desire for information on to everyone I meet. As the Instruction and Outreach Librarian, it is my goal to provide quality, informative, and relevant programming to meet the diverse needs of our patrons. Please contact me regarding programming at

Federal Research Reports Program Recap

There are a variety of ways to obtain research reports conducted by non-partisan groups that give key insights into appropriations, government spending and accountability, and areas of interest in which the federal government produces laws and orders.

Congressional Research Service

The Congressional Research Service serves Congress throughout the legislative process by providing comprehensive and reliable legislative research and analysis that is timely, objective, authoritative, and confidential.  The CRS is non-partisan and provides access to its materials through a variety of ways.  You can conduct a general browse search and add various limits to narrow your search or you can pick from more specialized collections, such as .  The CRS produces a variety of documents:

  • The R-Series reports tend to be 20-30+ pages and provide in-depth research and analysis
  • In Focus documents are 2-page executive-level briefing documents that cover a wide-range of policy issues
  • Insight reports are 2-7 page short-form analyses on fast moving or more focused issues
  • Legal Sidebar documents are 2 page reports by the Congressional Research Legislative lawyers
  • Transcript testimony before Congress
  • Infographics

Other features available on the CRS website include the Appropriations Status Table, which provides information on current legislative activity related to the appropriations and budget process, as well as COVID-19 related resources.

Government Accountability Office

The Government Accountability Office gathers information to help Congress determine how effectively executive branch agencies are doing their jobs.  It is an independent, non-partisan organization that examines public funds, evaluates federal programs and policies, and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions.  It also provides objective, reliable information to help the federal government save money and work more efficiently.

The GAO website is divided into the following sections:

  • Reports and Testimonies, which cover a wide-range of topics that are updated daily and are searchable by date, topic, or agency.
  • Bid Protests and Appropriations Law decisions on a wide-variety of topics, often cited in the media as “government watchdog”.
  • Key Issues focus on the GAO’s work on a wide-range of national issues based on agency or topic, such as the 2020 Census or Science and Technology

Additionally, the GAO provides other ways to obtain organization information, such as the WatchBlog email newsletter or the GAO twitter account.

Congressional Budget Office

The Congressional Budget Office independently analyzes budgetary and economic issues to support the congressional budget process.  It makes budgetary and economic predictions, analyzes the proposals in the President’s budget request, and details alternative spending and revenue options for legislators to consider.  Also, the CBO provides cost estimates of bills approved by Congressional Committees and tracks the progress of spending and revenue legislation in a scorekeeping system.

The CBO website provides access to Major Recurring Reports on 18 different topics, starting in 2000.   Additionally, the website allows users to browse its reports by topic and provides a Cost Estimate Search feature where users can search by bill number or keyword.

Additional Resources

A variety of handouts are available for download at the links below:

Additional, you can view a recording of the webinar at

Psychology of Spending Program Recap

Thank you to Jaime Gangone from the Credit Union of New Jersey for looking at underlying motivations for why we buy what we buy and how that can affect our overall financial health.  Understanding why we spend can be just as, if not more important than identifying what we spend our money on.  The CUNJ covered 8 possible reasons that influence our spending decisions:

  1. The Role of Advertising – using emotional appeals or providing product information for comparison motivates us buy or consider purchasing that product or service.
  2. Keeping Up with the Joneses – we all want to have nice things and we can justify our spending habits by comparing what we have to what others (family, friends, celebrities) have in order to keep up an appearance.
  3. Spending Habits – We become complacent in our spending habits, even if those spending habits are no longer viable in our changing financial situation, such as buying a $5 cup of gourmet coffee every day before work instead of making our own at home.
  4. Impulse Buying – Being impulsive is part of human nature and companies and retailers use this to their advantage, such as having shelves of candy at the cash register or having to walk the back of the store to reach the pharmacy; the more products that are in front of us as we try to get to what we want, the more likely we will impulsively buy something else.
  5. Bargain Hunting – Just because something is on sale or for a great deal does not mean that we must have that item.  While it feels great to save money, if you did not have a use for the item nor were planning on buying the item anyways, you may end up spending more money on things that you don’t really need.
  6. Retail Therapy – For some people, going out shopping, and by extension finding great deals, makes one feel better and can distract from issues or problems in one’s life.  Using shopping as a therapy or escape can quickly put us out of our budget and lead to other emotional and financial issues.
  7. Money As Love – We all want to show our love and we commonly do that by buying things, especially things that are only temporary such as flowers or food.  While periodically spending money on the ones we love to show our commitment or appreciation is perfectly fine, using the amount of money we spend or how often we spend can easily exhaust our finances.
  8. I’ll Worry About Tomorrow Tomorrow – Many people tend to focus on the here and now in their purchasing habits rather than days, months, or years in the future.  A perfect example is using credit cards or loans to buy things immediately and failing to realize that by not paying off those expenditures immediately, they will cost more in the long-term due to interest that could be better spent on things such as paying down other debt or saving for a vacation or down payment on a house.

For a copy of the handout from the presentation, please visit  To view the recording of the webinar, please visit

Resume Tips and Tricks Program Recap

Your resume is your brand and it is important that your resume effectively communicates the most relevant information possible related to the position you are applying for.  Your resume is a living and breathing document and it should change for each position you apply for as well as every time you learn a new skill, take on additional responsibilities, or complete a major project.

Types of Resumes

  1. Chronological – This is the most common type of resume and focuses on your work history.  It is used to emphasize continuous employment as well as highlight the major duties and accomplishments for each job.  You should use this format if you are applying for a job in your current field or if your experiences and skills are intimately linked.
  2. Functional – The least common format, yet it does have its purpose, especially if you are transitioning careers or have long gaps in your employment history.  This format emphasizes the skills and knowledge you learned throughout our education/work/volunteering, including job/field specific skills (software) and soft/transferable skills (communication, problem solving).  Use this format if the profession or job cares more about your skill set rather than strictly work experience.
  3. Hybrid – A more popular format, it allows you to combine the best elements of your skill set and work history, allowing you to showcase how your skills were used in your job duties/responsibilities.  Additionally, you can include any professional experience such as coursework and volunteering within a Professional Experience section, focusing on relevant experience rather than just all of your past employment.  This format allows for much more flexibility and customization which can be useful when applying to multiple jobs, especially across different fields.

Once you have your general resume written, it is important to tailor it to each specific job you apply for.  It is recommended to go through the job description and highlight keywords, skills, and other important requirements, including numerical qualifiers – years of experience, number of people supervised, etc.  Once you have finished this, go back to your resume and see how much of your resume matches what is in the job description.  The more overlap you have, the more likely your resume will pass through the Application Tracking System many organizations use to filter out electronic applications.  You may need to rewrite major portions of your resume, especially your job duties and responsibilities, to better reflect what is stated in the job description, but the extra will pay off with a more professional and better targeted resume that will impress.

Other General Tips

  • Keep your resume to 1 page, 2 at most if everything is related to the requirements of the job
  • Use san serif fonts, such as Courier, Times New Roman, or Helvitica – these fonts are easier on the eyes and allow Applicant Tracking Systems to more accurately pull information from your resume
  • Keep font sizes between 10 – 12, except for major headings which can be up to 14
  • Adjust your margins as needed to fit all of your information on 1 page, but be aware that some programs will not print out anything beyond the standard .5 inch margins
  • While graphic resumes are eye-catching and allow you to express yourself in bold and impressive ways, there is a higher chance that they will be unreadable or significantly altered if opened in a different software program or uploaded to an Applicant Tracking System.

Cover Letter Tips

  • Should complement, but not duplicate your resume
  • 1 page in length
  • Address the cover letter as specifically as you can
  • Describe your general qualifications and relevant skills as it relates to the job
  • Reference the job you are applying for in the first paragraph
  • Thank them for their time and invite them to follow-up

You can download a copy of the presentation at  You can download a copy of the resume examples at

The Financial Side of College Graduation Program Recap

Thank you to Samantha Benson from the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority for her presentation on what life looks like after graduation in terms of student loans and the costs of graduation school.  The most important thing regarding you or your children’s finances after graduation is to make sure you understand all the details of any loans.  Some loans have a grace period (such as 6 months for Federal Stafford Loans) before any money needs to be paid back.  Consolidation is an option many people take to reduce their monthly payments and interest rate, but it may extend the life of the loan to 30 years and prevent you from over-paying on the loan.  Repayment options (federal loans) include:

  • Standard
    • 10 years
    • Highest payment, but lowest total amount
    • will be auto enrolled after school if no other choice is selected during Exit Interview
  • Graduated
    • 10 years
    • Payments start off low, but increase roughly every 2 years
  • Extended
    • About 25 years
    • Payments are lower, but life of the loan is greatly extended, requiring more to be paid back
    • Must have at least $30,000 in student loan debt
  • Income-Based
    • 20-25 years of qualified payments, then rest is forgiven
    • 10-15% of discretionary income
  • Income Contingent
    • 25 years, then loan is forgiven
    • 20% of discretionary income OR amount if loan was for 12 years, whichever is lesser
    • Payment is calculated each year based your AGI (and spouse’s if married), family size, and amount of loans
  • Pay as you Earn
    • 20 years, then loan is forgiven
    • capped at 10% of discretionary income
  • Revised Pay as you Earn
    • 25 years, then loan is forgiven
    • Payment is calculated each year based your AGI (and spouse’s if married)
    • Payments may be higher than Standard repayment

If a loan is forgiven, the remaining balance MUST BE declared as income on your federal taxes for that year!

There are also federal and state loan forgiveness programs that will forgive your student loan debt if you meet certain requirements, such as work in qualified public service job for 10 years. Get to know more about these best IVA companies for further information.

For more information on repaying Federal Direct/Stafford loans, please visit  For more information on managing your loans after school and preparing for the job market, please visit  For a wide variety of information on repaying student loans, please visit

You can also view a sample Repayment Plan Summary at

Cut Flower Gardening Program Recap

Thank you to Margaret Pickoff from the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Mercer County for a wonderful and information-packed presentation on cut flower gardening  There are many things to consider when planting and tending a cut flower garden that will help ensure that you have healthy and beautiful flowers for your arrangements and vases.

When starting out, look around to see where flowers are already growing.  This can give you a good indication of fertile areas of your yard and where there is enough sunlight to promote a cut flower garden.   When determining where to plant your cut flower garden, keep in mind these factors:

    • Sunlight requirements
      • Full sun = more than 6 hours of direct sunlight
      • Partial sun = 4-6 hours
      • Partial shade = 2-4 hours
    • Low wind
    • Low perennial weed pressure
    • Fertile, well-drained soil
      • Can cause root rot
    • pH of 6.2-6.5
      • get soil tested
    • Soil Conditions
      • Ensure enough soil aggregates – soil particles that bind together
      • Working soil too often or when too went can damage soil structure

Also, it is important to determine what types of flowers/plants you want and learn the major differences between them:

  • Annuals
    • Flower, set seed, and die in one flowering season
    • Blood over a long period
    • Used to add bursts of color to garden
  • Biennials
    • Vegetative growth inn first year, flower and set seed in second
    • Require cold stratification if sown in spring
  • Perennials
    • Roots live, stems die
    • Less labor-intensive
    • Reproduce by seed, divisions, cuttings
    • Shorter blood period
  • Flowering vines
    • Vigorous growers
    • Often require winter pruning
    • Interesting tendrils and foliage for arrangements
  • Flowering trees and shrubs
    • Pruning needs and maintenance depend on species
    • Flowers, foliage, and fruit for arrangements
    • Upfront investment, longer to maturity
  • Spring flowering bulbs
    • Food storage structure underground

Here are some examples of common plants found in cut flower gardens:

  • High producing annual flowers like zinnia, cosmos, rudbeckia, and gomphrena
  • Medium producers like snapdragon, love-lies-bleeding, and sunflowers
  • Foliage plants and ornamental grasses like bells of Ireland and eucalyptus
  • Filler flowers like statice, celosia, and yarrow

Once you have your location picked out and the types of flowers you want to grow, you can begin by planting seeds indoors in March and April.  Use soil-less potting mix in seedling trays with drainage holes.  You want to time seeding with the frost-free date for your area as well as the planting date you had in mind.  Cover the seeds lightly with soil and keep warm and moist.  You can even use a plastic covering to help for water circulation.

As your seedlings grow, watch for the types of leaves.  When the plant has sprouted 2 true leaves (look like normal leaves), the plant is ready to be transplanted outside.  Be sure to “harden off” for two weeks before planting, which means a gradual introduction to outdoor conditions.  Once in the ground, water within an hour of planting and be mindful to include enough spacing between your plants as indicated on the seed packaging.

If you are going to plant your seeds directly into the garden, make sure to read the seed pack for information regarding when to plant, planting depth, and spacing.  Also pay attention to any special germination instructions, such as cold stratification, and check the date of the package to ensure the seeds are still healthy.

Once you have your plants in the ground, be mindful of these maintenance and care tips:

  • Watering
    • 1 inch per week
    • Deep, infrequent watering rather than repeated shallow watering
    • Morning or early afternoon
    • Soaker hose, mulch
  • Physical barriers and mulches
    • Organic or synthetic mulches
  • Pinching Back – Annuals
    • When 4 sets of leaves, remove upper most growth at node
    • Create bushier plants, more flowering stems and greater floral production
  • Deadheading
    • Cut below spent flower, above healthy leaves
    • Longer blood period
  • Ongoing care
    • Thinning, weeding, trellising and staking, fertilizing, dividing perennials
  • Deer damage
    • Avoid preferred species
    • Apply repellents
    • Exclusion fencing
  • Diseases and pests
    • Purchase high-quality, disease free plants
    • Check for obvious insect issues at point of purchase
    • Choose resistant varieties
    • Remove sickly plants as soon as possible

Once your flowers bloom, you are ready to harvest them.  Make sure to harvest using sharp, clean tools to prevent any damage or illness to the plant.  When to harvest depends on the species so be sure to time it properly.  If you plan to put the flowers in a vase, be sure to keep long stems and strip the foliage.  Make sure you use tepid water in your vase and floral preservatives to keep them fresh and long-lasting.

If you have specific questions, please visit the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Mercer County at or email Margaret at  To download a copy of the presentation, please visit  To view a recording of the webinar, please visit

Virtual Autism Resource Fair

Welcome to the New Jersey State Library’s Virtual Autism Resource Fair.  Due to the current health crisis, the library was forced to cancel it’s in-person Autism Resource Fair, but since April is Autism Awareness Month and families affected by Autism are facing unique challenges with many of the state’s directives to close schools and most businesses, it is important as ever to spread the word about the organizations and resources available to members of the Autism community.  Please find below information about different Autism-related organizations throughout the state to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder, current research on Autism, resources for families including education, health-care, therapy and more!  Please share this with your family, friends, schools, libraries and any other person or group that can benefit from this information.

Autism New Jersey

Founded in 1965, Autism New Jersey has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of those affected by autism, including children, parents, and caregivers.  Autism New Jersey is one of the leading autism groups in the state and provides lifelong individualized services with skill and compassion.  Autism New Jersey serves the autism community by focusing on four pillars — Awareness, Information Services, Education & Training, and Public Policy.  Working with families, schools, clinicians, community organizations, and researchers, Autism New Jersey seeks to equip families and caregivers with the most up-to-date information and best practices for diagnosis, treatment, and support.

Autism New Jersey has a wealth of information on its website.  An autism diagnosis often brings many questions, including the best treatment options and where to seek medical, financial, legal, educational, and emotional support.  Autism New Jersey has a wonderful Helpline (800.4.AUTISM) that talks families and professionals through every aspect of their lives, and a Referral Service that offers a wide variety of healthcare and service providers.  Autism New Jersey also hosts workshops and produces informative webinars that have been especially useful during the current COVID-19 health crisis.

Autism New Jersey also tackled the COVID-19 crisis by creating a detailed resource page, which includes information about different governmental agencies, support for individuals, families, and self-advocates, and healthcare resources and options, including telemedicine and teletherapy.

Autism New Jersey is at the forefront of advocacy for the autism community.  Learn more about their Public Policy initiatives and ways you can Get Involved, through volunteering, donating, or becoming an Autism Ambassador.

Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks, founded in 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism, is dedicated to promoting solutions for the needs of people with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. The organization builds upon the legacy of three other organizations that merged with Autism Speaks; Autism Coalition for Research and Education (ACRE), the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN).  As a national organization, Autism Speaks is advancing research into causes and better treatments for autism spectrum disorders and related conditions both through direct funding and collaboration.

Autism Speaks provides a wealth of information and resources for people with autism and their families. For families affected by autism, Autism Speaks has detailed pages on diagnosis, treatment, and a Resource Guide which can be narrowed down by state, life stage, and level of support. Additionally, Autism Speaks has a Autism Response Team that can help parents, clinicians, and researchers in a wide variety of topics, including where to get a diagnosis, schools and special education, advocacy and support, adult services – including post-secondary programs and employment, and inclusion and community activities.

Autism Speaks also promotes programming and research related to autism by providing funding through grants. So far, Autism Speaks has awarded over $2,000,000 to 55 institutions, just in New Jersey. This money went toward special swim lessons and water education classes, summer camps for children with autism, and research studies at academic institutions, including Rutgers and Princeton. To learn more about how you can support the Autism Speaks mission, visit or email the New Jersey Autism Speaks office directly at

Autism Speaks also has a specific page dedicated to the COVID-19 health crisis. Whether you are a family with school-aged children, looking for resources and support for an adult with autism, or an educator or health professional, Autism Speaks is there for you.

New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence

The New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence is a collaborate group of innovative scientists, clinicians, and service providers who strive to improve the quality of life of families touched by Autism in the State of New Jersey.  According to it’s mission statement, NJ ACE is committed “to improve autism research and clinical care throughout the state of New Jersey, revamp autism training initiatives across the state, educate society about autism unmet needs, and to make NJ a national leader in these endeavors.”  NJ ACE was created in 2018 through a grant from the New Jersey Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism to Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey in partnership with Specialized Children’s Hospital.

NJ ACE is focused on collecting research data, whether from new studies or previous ones done throughout the country, to better identify and explain the underlying causes of Autism, how it develops, and best practices for treating both symptoms and the underlying disease.  Also, please check out the Research tab on their website for the latest information about anything related to Autism research.

If you are looking for more help, NJ ACE lists nearly 50 organizations that provide a wide variety of services for the Autism community.  NJ ACE has a wonderful webinar series related to adults with Autism, a topic that is often overlooked and understudied, leaving many members of the Autism community with little help or support as they move on from school.  Additionally, NJ ACE has a YouTube channel with a wide variety of videos, including one about Zoning your Home, specifically designed for those Autism community members adjusting to the new realities of home life during the COVID-19 health crisis.  You can also download a copy of their Home Routine Schedule and Guide.  Please check out their COVID-19 Resources Guide for more information about strategies and helpful sites.

New Jersey Autism Registry

New Jersey is one of the few states that has a statewide registry specifically dedicated to Autism.  The New Jersey Autism Registry was created to better understand Autism Spectrum Disorder in New Jersey and link families to available services and supports.  State law requires licensed healthcare providers to register any child diagnosed with Autism to the Autism Registry  as long as they are a resident of New Jersey, under 22 years old, and diagnosed with ASD, Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), or Asperger’s Disorder/Syndrome.  You can choose to be in the registry anonymously, but then your family will not be able to be linked to special child health case management services. These county-based, coordinated service providers have many years of experience and knowledge of the local, county, and statewide resources available to families of children with special health care needs.

Once your child is registered, a letter and informational pamphlets are sent to you notifying you that your child has been registered.  To keep confidentiality, the letter does not contain your child’s diagnosis.  In addition to a letter sent to you, information about your child is sent to the special child health case management unit within your county of residence.  These case managers are available to serve you and your family by providing you with coordinated, family-centered resources.  This service is free to you and is available to your child from birth through the age of 21.  All personal information in Registry is kept in a tightly secured location and all information produced from Autism Registry data, such as reports, data tables and so forth are done in aggregate, with no individuals identified whatsoever.

Parents can facilitate the registration process by informing their health care provider (such as their pediatrician, neurologist, or psychiatrist or other New Jersey licensed provider that cares for the child) of the law and by telling them that they want their child registered. They can also assist with completing and sharing the autism registration form with their child’s health care provider.  Early identification of children with autism and early intervention of the behaviors and symptoms associated with autism improves later outcomes. The Autism Registry helps with this by referring families to special child health case management services, who perform coordinated care and inform families of available resources, or to early intervention if the child is under 3 years of age.

For more information, please download their Autism Registry Family Brochure or check out their publications on their homepage.

Parents of Autistic Children

Parents of Autistic Children (POAC) Autism Services is a non-profit that continuously makes a significant impact in New Jersey’s fight against Autism.  Each year, POAC sponsors hundreds of events for the Autism community, ranging from trainings for families, educators libraries, and police, fundraisers including their Autism Walks throughout the state, and recreational activities for families affected by Autism, including swim lessons and BBQs.  Additionally, POAC aims to address, support, and promote legislative issues that affect those with autism and their families, including sitting on the NJ Governor’s Council on Autism.

POAC has compiled tons of resources for families and the greater community available as Fact Sheets.  These sheets range from information on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), online resources for parents and teachers, and governmental programs and agencies critical to support members of the Autism community.  Additionally, POAC has compiled a list of digital and print publications, which you can purchase online, used and referenced in their trainings as well as useful for parents, caregivers, teachers, and individuals with Autism.  POAC relies on the help of dedicated and passionate volunteers for all it’s programming.  If you would like to help POAC in it’s mission to support those affected by Autism, you can visit their Ways to Help page, to learn more about becoming a volunteer, donating, or getting your school or workplace involved in the Autism conversation.

Currently, to help those affected by Autism in the current COVID-19 crisis, POAC is offering daily live events for free.  These include Story Time with Gary (founder of POAC), Yoga and Zumba designed specifically for individuals and families, music sessions, and webinars on a wide-range of topics.  Additionally, POAC has also compiled a list of forms that families with Autism will find useful as they try to navigate all stages of Autism while staying in the safety of their home.

Talking Book and Braille Center

The New Jersey State Library Talking Book & Braille Center (TBBC) provides an extensive collection of audiobooks to anyone in NJ who has a print disability and cannot read traditional standard printed material. These audiobooks are produced by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, a federal program that ensures “that all may read“.   A person with autism qualifies for TBBC services if they have a print disability: low vision, blindness, a physical disability where they cannot hold the book or turn the pages, or a reading disability.

While autism, itself, is not an official qualifying reason to receive services from TBBC, many times there are accompanying reasons a person with autism may qualify.   If there is a sensitivity to touch that would prohibit a person from being able to hold a book or turn the pages, that person would qualify with a physical disability.   “Low vision” simply means that even with glasses, a person cannot read the print in the newspaper.   And, a person may also qualify if there is a reading disability in addition to the autism.

The application for TBBC requires that a “Certifying Authority” must certify that the person qualifies for services.  No additional documentation is needed for the application to be approved.  The complete list of those who can sign are listed on the application; for those who are blind, low vision, or have a physical disability, the person signing includes librarians, nurses, doctors, social workers, and so on.  For a person with a reading disability, a doctor (MD or DO) must sign the application.

Typically, TBBC mails all material (audiobooks and the machine to listen to the books) at no cost to the individual.  At the moment, we are unable to mail items back and forth. That doesn’t mean you cannot get books! All of TBBC’s audiobooks can be downloaded from a service called BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) and then listened to on most smartphones and tablets, including the iPad and Kindle Fire using the BARD Mobile App. Our staff at TBBC are available by phone or email, and can walk you through the process of getting these books.

To find out more about TBBC, our audiobooks, how to get them, and how to use BARD, please visit our website at or call us at (800) 792-8322 ext 861 or email us at

Searching Your Irish Roots Program Recap

Researching your family history leads you down many different paths.  As you start delving into first-generation Americans, it can be difficult to trace ancestors to their homelands.  Each country and culture has it’s own idiosyncrasies when it comes to naming conventions, especially the Irish.  Additionally, finding official documents, especially vital records, can be difficult for many reasons, including wars or fires that may have destroyed important records.  Case Zahn gave some insight into researching Irish ancestors.

Before conducting your research, it is important to remember 2 crucial things:

  1. Create a timeline associated with each ancestor you are investigating.
  2. Always remember to cite your sources!

Casey follows a general pattern when investigating a specific ancestor.  First, start with their death and find a gravestone or death record.  FindAGrave has digitized images of millions of headstones with corresponding cemetery records, including information about where to find a person’s death record if applicable.  Once you have a date of death, you can then look for an obituary, which may give you more information about where they are buried (possibly next to other family members), where they lived, any relatives that are survived, and other information about their lives that may be useful in your timeline or research.  Also, look in the newspaper for a few days beyond the obituary in case there are any other mentions of the deceased in letters to the editor or other testimonies that may have been published.

State and Federal Censuses

Next, move on to the state and federal censuses. These resources can provide tons of information about a person including where they lived in a particular year, their marital status, children, occupation, and perhaps most importantly, place of birth for the individual as well as mother and father.  This can greatly narrow your search as you try and trace that ancestor and their family back farther.  Many censuses, up to the federal census of 1940, are available through sites like Ancestry and FamilySearch.  When searching these sites, avoid including a middle name, look for city and state only, and do not check exact match as this can exclude relevant results that may include name misspellings.

In regards to Irish ancestors, anything after 1922 will differentiate between the Irish Free State (Southern Ireland) and Ireland Northern (part of the United Kingdom).  Additionally, the Ireland Northern designation may include the counties on the border that are actually part of the Irish Free State.  When it comes to Catholics and French Canadians, Joseph was a very popular name so many Josephs were referred to by their middle name, including on the census, so be aware of all variations of your ancestor’s name, both first, middle, and last.

The census also can provide important information about the neighbors that lived around your ancestors.  This is particularly important for Irish ancestors since many times they settled with or near relatives so by looking at the page before and after where your ancestor is located may reveal other important information that can help fill in your timeline.

City Directories

After looking at censuses, look for your ancestors and other relatives in city directories.  This can tell you exactly where they lived if they changed residences in between the censuses, and even other surnames.  After you consulted with the city directories, check wills for other familial connections as well as passenger records to help narrow down when your ancestor came over, from which port, and if they came with other relatives.  This can help you find naturalization records that can provide information about their place of residence before coming to the United States.  However, before September 1922, only men and married women would have naturalization records and when a woman married, her nationality was recorded as that of her husband, so be aware of these discrepancies.

If your ancestor was born in Ireland, locating vital records can be difficult, especially before the creation of the Irish Civil Registration n 1864.  FamilySearch does have digitized indexes of the Irish Civil Registrations for birth, marriage, and death records.  If your ancestor was Catholic, you may be able to find church records going farther back than 1864.  The National Library of Ireland has digitized many of these records and they are available at  When searching for vital records, especially repositories, be aware that there are differences between civil registration districts and parish districts, so the location of vital records may be in different places.  If your ancestor is of Protestant decent, records are available through the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland.

For a copy of the handout prepared by Casey, please visit  A recording of the webinar is available at

Protecting Your Identity and Other Assets Program Recap

Identity theft is on the rise and thieves are becoming more clever in their methods to steal your information and identity.  However, there are many steps you can take to help reduce your risk of identity theft as well as insure your other assets are protected through insurance.

The following information is brought to you by the FDIC as part of their Money Smart for Older Adults educational series.

Assets and Risks

    • An asset is something you own that has value
      • car, home, financial accounts, job, identity
    • Risk is the potential for harm
    • You can reduce your risks by:
      • making informed decisions that anticipate risks
      • Be careful with personal information
      • Know your rights and responsibilities
      • Get insurance

Identify Theft Basics

    • Where is your identity?
      • SS cards, drivers license, passport, or other identification cards (health insurance)
      • Financial statements, previous tax returns, or utility bills
      • Online usernames and passwords, credit or debit cards
    • Ways criminals can steal your identity include
      • Phishing scams via text, phone, or email asking you to give up personal information
        • Can be related to special offers or robocalls about students loans or mortgage loan modification
          • Never click on any links or press any buttons or this can take you malicious websites or indicate that your phone number is active and can receive more calls
      • Pharming your information through fake websites by asking you to fill out personal information or installing malicious malware or spyware on your device
      • Skimming your financial information by stealing your debit or credit card information from special readers installed on ATMs, gas pumps, or card reading devices
    • Most common types of identity theft include
      • credit card fraud
      • employment or tax fraud
      • phone or utility fraud
      • bank fraud
      • loan or lease fraud
      • government documents or benefits fraud
    • COVID-19 related scams and fraud include
      • calls or emails about vaccines, home test kits, or miracle cures
      • robocalls about treatment or work-from-home schemes
      • calls or email about obtaining your federal stimulus check, including asking for payment upfront to receive a check
      • impostors claiming to be from a government agency such as Social Security Administration, Medicare, or IRS
      • Calls from “family members” claiming to be at the hospital in need of money for care or treatment

Warning Signs of Identity Theft

    • withdrawals you did not make
    • missing bills or statements
      • evidence that someone changed your address or email on file
    • merchants refusing your checks or credit card
    • letters or emails about accounts or purchases you did not open/make
    • statements from credit cards you did not open
    • debt collectors calling about debts that are not yours
    • usernames or passwords are not working
    • unfamiliar accounts on your credit report
    • medical bills or health records for conditions or procedures you don’t have or need
    • multiple or inaccurate tax returns
    • notifications of data breaches by companies you patronize

Steps to Minimize Identity Theft

    • guard your personal information
    • do not respond to unsolicited requests
    • guard your mail, including shredding all paper that contains your personal information
    • sign up for direct deposit and review your financial accounts regularly and carefully
    • review your credit report every 12 months at a minimum
      • you can request a free credit report from each credit bureau once per year, so space them out every 4 months to stay on top of your credit
    • keep your important documents secure, such as a safety deposit box, safe, or external hard drive
    • be aware of disaster-related scams and sign up for scam/fraud alerts

If Your Identity Has Been Stolen

    • create an Identity Theft Report at
    • work with credit reporting agencies to respond to the threat
      • place a free fraud alert on a credit report
      • dispute inaccurate information in writing
      • place a free credit freeze
    • communicate with creditors and debt collectors
      • alert them about fraudulent accounts
      • get copies of documents related to the theft
      • get written information about fraudulent accounts
      • visit for more rights

Get Insurance

    • insurance can protect you and lessen your financial burden from a catastrophe
    • most insurances have:
      • premiums – money you have to pay to keep the insurance active
      • covered loss – what is covered under the policy
      • coverage limit – the maximum amount of money the insurance will pay
      • deductible – money you must pay out-of-pocket before insurance will pay
      • copayment – money you must pay at the time of service
      • coinsurance – the percentage you must pay while insurance will cover the rest
      • exemption or exclusion – things that the policy will not cover
    • types of insurance include
      • health, dental, or vision
      • long term care or disability
      • life or death
      • car, motorcycle, boat
      • homeowners or renters
      • pet
    • When getting insurance
      • determine which assets you want to insure and against what risks
      • find out what insurance is required by law, such as car insurance
      • shop around
        • check out insurance companies for reputability
        • ask for discounts and compare quotes
        • consider tradeoffs between deductibles, coinsurance, coverage limit, and premium
      • Always keep accurate records, including claims and receipts

To view a recording of the webinar, please visit  You can also download the presentation and Participant Guide.

Coronavirus Frauds and Scams: What You Need to Know

As the world advanced technologically, so have the means by which people commit frauds and scams.  Oftentimes during a crisis, like the current Coronavirus pandemic, there will be new frauds and scams designed to capitalize on the fear and generosity of others.  The Federal Trade Commission, as well as the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, works to identify and shut down frauds and scams, often relying on us to report suspicious calls, emails,  or products.

The following information, provided by the FTC in the wake of the Coronavirus, is aimed to help all of us avoid becoming a victim of fraud or scams:

Treatments and Cures

    • One of the most popular fraud/scams right now
    • Vaccine, test kit, or miracle cure offers
      • Have to provide personal information or money to receive an offer, but all are fake as there is no vaccine or cure right now
    • Medicare-related scams that look for your Medicare information and generally target older and uninformed people
    • Scammers may spoof or disguise their phone number as coming from a legitimate company, so always call back at a number that you know is accurate

Email/text scams

    • Generally, phishing scams looking to:
      • Get your money, get your personal information, or redirect you to a malicious website
    • Do not open any email or text that you do not recognize
      • Look at email addresses carefully for misspellings or long/complicated domain names

Malicious Websites

    • Lots of domains now will include “coronavirus” to get you to click or visit their site
    • Stick with known, trusted sites such as for all of the latest information
    • Don’t click on any links to websites that you are unfamiliar with – trust your gut


    • Generally, automated calls that deal with:
      • health-related issues such as telemedicine, insurance, or Medicare/Medicaid
      • Cleaning supplies
      • Social Security Administration
        • Usually claiming your SS number will be suspended or deactivated unless you provide personal information or money to restore it
      • Mortgage/student loan relief
        • offering to modify or change your mortgage or student loan terms for an upfront fee – never legitimate
        • Mortgage Assistance Relief Service final rule states that require anyone offering a loan modification must provide certain disclosures and prohibits upfront fees

Government Stimulus Checks

    • Calls or emails related to receiving your Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) stimulus check
      • The government will never call or email you regarding this – everything will be done in writing through the mail if needed
    • The government will never ask for you to provide personal information (SSN, bank account, credit card) or ask for money upfront
      • Stimulus money is income tax-free so you do not need to pay taxes on it before receiving it

Fake Charities

    • Charitable organizations and collections often spring up during a crisis
      • Do your homework to ensure they are a legitimate charity or nonprofit
      • If you are going to give, never pay by cash, gift card, or money order since there is no paper trail
    • Find more information at

Other Frauds and Scams

    • Grandparent Scam
      • Receive a call or text from someone claiming to be a grandchild or relative needed money for emergency medical bills, such as test kit or hospital visit
    • Door to Door Scam
      • Often targeting older people, someone will come to the door claiming to be from the neighborhood offering services such as getting food or other essential items
      • Ask for cash or credit/debit information upfront

Misinformation and Rumors

    • As with any major health crisis, there will be misinformation and rumors circulating around
    • Stay informed by asking 3 questions
      • Who is this message from
      • What do they want me to do
      • What is the evidence behind this message

Resources from the FTC

Tips and Tricks to Stay Moving

We’ve all seen commercials about the importance of movement to stay healthy.  Whether it is to stay off muscle or joint issues or to increase our stamina and lessen the chance of heart disease, movement provides a host of health benefits.  Now that many of us are confined to our homes, for the most part, it is as important as ever that we take the time to move around in different ways.  Kyrah Altman CEO, President, and Co-Founder of LEAD (Let’s Empower, Advocate, and Do), a leader in mental health education, shared the following tips as it relates to how movement can keep us healthy, both mentally and physically:

Practice Mindfulness

    • While mindfulness is aimed at focusing our attention to the present through techniques like breathing, movement is a key component
    • Be sure to take mindful breaks throughout the day and incorporate movement into those breaks
    • Spend time outside, if possible, such as going for walks, or simply taking off your shoes and feelings the ground in your toes
    • Exercise can be a great mindfulness practice by forcing your mind to focus on exercise at hand and your breathing
      • We should all strive for 30 minutes of exercise and 60 minutes of physical activity each day
        • Go for a bike ride, Ecosmo are the main provider of folding bikes in the UK – see their range at and get yours.
        • Take the stairs, park farther away from a store, conduct meetings by walking, and engage in house walking (such as brushing your teeth while walking around the house)
        • The Move It Google Chrome extension will remind you to do a variety of movement-related tasks throughout the day
    • For more information on Mindfulness, check out our Mindfulness to Reduce Stress Program Recap.

Movement and Community

    • It is much easier to stay active and move if you have someone else to join you – buddy system
    • Even though many of us are in isolation, there are many ways to still move with others
      • Take the family or dogs for walks, even around the house or backyard
      • Conference call or video chat with family or friends as you all walk or perform some sort of activity, such as yoga
    • Join Facebook groups or see if local fitness centers are offering online classes

Movements for Anxiety or Stress

    • EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique
      • Emotional acupressure
      • Tapping various parts of the body while repeating a positive mantra
        • Side of the hand
        • Beginning of eyebrow (inside), moving across the eye socket, then underneath the eye to the bridge of the nose
        • Chin
        • Collar bone
        • Hand width from the armpit
        • Top of the head
    • Yoga and Pilates, especially chair or desk poses, can be done anywhere, especially in a home office or at work

Get Creative

    • Explore your creative side by:
      • drawing or painting
      • Singing or dancing
      • Doing makeup or giving a haircut
      • Knitting or sewing
      • Baking or making a new recipe
      • Playing music
      • Writing poetry, short stories, or in a journal
    • Many of these can be done with family or friends while you are stuck at home, even through video calls

Set Yourself Up for Success

    • Control what you can!
      • An easy way to take control of your life is through diet and nutrition
        • For example, 1 apple gives more energy than a cup of coffee and has no crash!
      • Stay hydrated to keep alert and avoid headaches
        • Try to drink 8 8oz glasses of water throughout the day
    • Avoid self-medication through drugs, alcohol, or excessive dieting or exercise
      • These maladaptive coping mechanisms can lead to dependencies and addiction
      • Determine the function of the activity – is it to distract or drown out or numb
    • Teletherapy
      • If you are struggling mentally, which can cause you to severely limit your movement, try teletherapy


Tips and Tricks to Reduce Anxiety

The current health crisis marks a complete shift in our daily lives.  Many people are forced to work or stay home, limiting social interactions.  The contagious nature of the disease and it’s widespread impact adds deeper dimensions of stress and anxiety as we worry about our family, relatives, and friends.  However, there are many things we can do to help lower our anxiety and incorporate into our daily life to strengthen our physical and mental well-being.  Kyrah Altman CEO, President, and Co-Founder of LEAD (Let’s Empower, Advocate, and Do), a leader in mental health education, shared the following tips as it relates to reducing anxiety and keeping a healthy mental state:

  • Risks associated with unanticipated transitions
    • Situational stress and life disturbances
      • not the same as anxiety
    • Can lead to the development of an adjustment, mood, or anxiety disorder
    • Can worsen an already existing disorder
  • Use a strengths-based approach
    • Leverage previously-used strategies and support systems, such as breathing exercises or calling/video chatting with support groups or family
    • Engage in and encourage self-care strategies that offer a sense of completion
    • Identify an accountability partner that you can share your experiences with and work toward a common goal, such as yoga
    • Do not confuse self-care or stress-management with treatment for a mental disorder
      • a rise in stress or temporary anxiety from the current situation does not equate to mental illnesses, such as long-term anxiety disorders that require professional help
    • Pick and choose what works for you – we are all different and have different needs and respond differently to strategies and activities
  • Anxiety 101
    • Anxiety can be fleeting or continuous, requiring different approaches and treatments to deal with
    • Anxiety disorders, considered mental illnesses, disrupt a person’s ability to:
      • satisfy daily requirements
  • Mindfulness and other strategies
    • Mindfulness is a fantastic way to refocus your attention on the present moment, accepting and forgiving negative feelings without judgement or hostility
      • Benefits of mindfulness include
        • reduced stress, anxiety, and panic
        • coping skills for pain management and depression
        • develop positive self-image
        • regulate and manage emotions
      • 4 Elements Craft
        • A craft project that uses 4 different color items connected together, similar to a rosary.  As you touch each color, you focus on different aspects of the color and perform different activities to realign your thoughts and emotions, letting go of everything else around you and focus on your being at the present.
          • Green (earth) – notice the physical space your are in, starting with your feet and moving throughout your body up to your head.  Notice any sounds or smells that happen in the moment.
          • Clear (air) – focus on your breathing, taking long deep breathes.  You can also perform some basic breathing exercises to calm your mind.
          • Blue (water) – make saliva by chewing gum, drinking water, or running your tongue on your teeth
          • Red (fire) – use your imagination and visualize a place where you feel safe and happy
      • Meditation and deep breathing are other great ways to practice mindfulness
        • Calm and Headspace apps
        • LEAD hosts a 10 minute meditation at 9am EST Monday – Friday
        • Check out podcasts related to mindfulness or meditation
      • For more information on mindfulness, check out our Mindfulness to Reduce Stress Program Recap
    • Anxiety reducing sounds are a great way to engage and strengthen the mind
    • Embrace self-care
      • Set clear boundaries, especially with family while at home
        • Be respectful and effective when communicating your boundaries, acknowledging people’s requests for your attention while instilling value in what you are currently doing
      • Determine ahead of time what or who you will need to say “No” to more often
      • Check in with family, friends, and coworkers during the quarantine with text or video chat tools

How to Work from Home with Young Kids

Many people are working from home and trying to juggle their work and home responsibilities.  While most school-aged children as still going to school remotely and working on assignments, the closure of daycare facilities have made it much more difficult for parents to adjust to working from home.

Below is a summary of FlexJobs’ webinar “How to Work from Home with Young Kids”:

Setting shared expectations

    • Be open with your team and managers about your new reality, including any hurdles and issues
      • Many people rely on child care so being upfront about your home responsibilities will help everyone stay on the same page
    • Your work priorities may shift so work with your team or managers to identify the most appropriate priorities given your new work environment, taking into consideration available resources
    • Determine how flexible your hours can be, letting people know of commitments to your family, hours you will be working, and the best way to reach you when you are offline
    • Set up a schedule with your partner about managing the children throughout the day/week and inform your work about changes in your availability
    • Stay in regular communication with your team or managers, using synchronous (phone, video chat) and asynchronous (email, text message) means as appropriate

Conversation starters

    • Talk with your boss or coworkers – “I want to share my current reality and give everyone a good understanding and try to stay ahead of any potential problems.”
    • To ask for more flexibility – “I’d like to get a good sense of what my flexible work options are right now.  The more I’m able to shift my schedule, the better I’ll be able to meet work priorities and stay productive during this time.”
    • For the beginnings of meetings – “As is the case with a lot of you, I’m working from home caring for my ____ and ___ -year-old kids.  I wanted to give you a heads up that I may get interrupted during our call but I’ll let you know, mute myself, deal with the situation, and jump back in.”
      • By letting people know the age of your children, especially young children, they will be more inclined to understand what you are going through

Paid leave options

    • The federal government has extended family and medical leave in response to the current lack of child care through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
    • Visit for more information

Flexible scheduling

    • The Split Shift
      • Divide between morning and afternoon shifts
      • Add a bit of early AM or late PM if needed
    • Early mornings, late nights, and weekend work (if your job will permit)
      • 2 early AM hours + 3 late PM hours = only 3 more hours each day or 15 weekend hours
      • If you plan to work 7 days a week for a 40 hour work week, you only need to work 5.7 hours a day
      • Remind yourself that it is only temporary
    • Ask to switch to a temporary ROWE (Results Only Work Environment)
      • stress less about hours and focus more on output

Older kids

    • set expectations and establish boundaries and signals
      • may require explanation every day or multiple times a day
        • visual cues (signs) or physical boundaries (mark off workspace)

Independent, unstructured play

    • Think about times when kids get “lost” in play
      • Kitchen utensils, a couple of containers, some rice or cereal
      • Pillow/cushion or sheet fort
      • Cardboard ramp off the couch with balls or cars
      • Tub time with bathing suits and unusual bath toys
      • “Cleaning” the house
    • Embrace mess
      • Playdough, paints (or water and a brush), soap, stamps, stickers, stamp pens
      • “Bath time” for cards, dolls, etc. – let them scrub in the sink
      • Use different rooms in the house
        • every hour switch to a different room and different activity

Enlist friends and relatives

    • Set up a kids’ “work station” near yours
      • real or fake laptop, coffee cup, headphones, whatever you have
    • Schedule friends or relatives to have structured video calls
      • read books or lead activities or crafts
      • pick a theme and do a bunch of related things
        • read about elephants, draw elephants, make them out of play dough, write their own story
      • Facebook Messenger for Kids
        • Connect with other young friends, relatives

Screen time

    • Transfixing shows – high chairs or booster seats, snacks help
      • Little Baby Bum (YouTube/Netflix)
      • Masha & the Bear (Netflix)
      • Cincinnati Zoo and other zoos (YouTube)
      • Baby Einstein
      • Stinky and Dirty (Amazon)
      • Storybots Simple Songs (Netflix)
    • Interactive Shows
      • GoNoodle
      • Sesame Street
      • Cosmic Kids
      • The Learning Station (YouTube)

Attention Grabbers

    • 10 minutes of your undivided attention
    • BusyToddler on Instagram
    • Busy Boxes
      • plastic bins with scooping, pouring, stacking, washing, painting, or other coloring games
    • Tape
      • painters or masking tape on floors and walls for race tracks
      • rip into small pieces for stickers
    • Outdoor toys inside, inside toys outdoors

To view a recording of the webinar, please visit

For more information about working from home with children, check out:

  1. Parents.com
  2. CNN
  3. Business Insider