hipnews Winter 2007 Edition
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Save the Dates for Two Great Fund-Raising Events
Dancing in the Aisles at the Annual Meeting!!
We Mourn ....
The View from HUDSON
The best award we can receive ...
What's new with the hip staff?
Ways to Give to hip
Hudson Youth Are Envisioning Success!
No Snow? Reports Show a Flurry of Bergen YES! ...
LEAD Season Opens: Keys to a Dynamic Program
New and Renewing Members for 2007
Happy Birthday, Monsieur Braille!!
“Recycle Your AT” ...
Pot O’ Gold Winners ...
Prioritizing Affordable Housing by Steven Rothman
Hats Off! To the Henry H. Kessler Foundation
hip Holiday Party
hip Programs
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- hipnews Winter 2007 Edition Text Version -

  Save the Dates for Two Great Fund-Raising Events
 April 28 – “Under the hipTop,” Annual Gala Dinner Dance to Have a Circus Theme

Bring on the clowns – the circus is coming to hip! This year the highlight of our spring season, our annual gala dinner-dance at the Fort Lee Recreation Center, will have a circus theme. Last year’s event, a smashing success financially and socially, was proof-positive that a happy evening of dinner and dancing is a winner for “hipsters.” We netted just under $11,000 and many of us went home not only tapping our feet, but also carrying bundles of great gifts.
We’re glad to report that our sensational musician/disk jockey, Gary Morton, will be with us for a return visit. Look for more news in the April hipNews and for invitations in the mail. In the meantime, plan for a wonderful evening on April 28th and bring your friends.

June 11—Tee-Off for Independent Living - hip’s First Golf Outing

Calling all golfers to Tee-Off for Independent Living! Yes, Monday, June 11th, will mark a first for hip: a golf outing at the Forest Hill Field Club in Bloomfield, NJ. Proceeds will benefit hip and its programs for youth. The event will get under way with lunch at 11:30 a.m., then a shotgun start, a full afternoon of golf, concluding with cocktails, dinner, and awards.
A planning committee headed by Board members Lou Intorre and Lisa Firko, aided by Lillian Ciufo, Rick Hodgman, Judy Liebman, and Lauren Ryan, is hard at work looking for sponsors and – of course – golfers! Readers of hipNews who are golfing enthusiasts or who have friends who would like to support this exciting new event should call Lou at 201-967-2716. Brochures with full details may also be obtained by calling hip’s Bergen office.
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  Dancing in the Aisles at the Annual Meeting!!
 They were “dancing in the aisles” at hip’s Annual Meeting on November 14th at the Fort Lee Hilton. The event was a rousing success, ending with some of the liveliest music to be heard anywhere, played by a five-piece band, graduates of MAVIS (Music Association of Visually Impaired Students). 
The room was full, as usual, and the turn-out of hip staff was a great tribute to our organization. We owe them much gratitude for a splendid, well-planned evening. Preparing for this event requires a heroic effort. Joan Thomson merits special kudos for the beautiful Annual Report she created which was distributed to all at the meeting.
We welcomed three new Board members: Patricia Consiglio, Hyacinthe Nkurunziza, and Anne Marie Prendergast. Executive Director Eileen Goff congratulated two Board members: Mike Dressler on his re-election as Bergen County Surrogate, and John De Witt on his impending marriage on December 3rd. Both announcements met with enthusiastic applause. 
The Board of Trustees met before the Annual Meeting to elect and re-elect its officers: this year’s slate included Helen D. Marshall for president (2nd term), Anna Navatta for 1st vice president (1st term), Richard Hodgman for 2nd vice president (1st term), and John De Witt for treasurer (1st term). Joan Bermingham continues as secretary.

New Board Members

Patricia Consiglio, a lifelong resident of Bayonne, is a vigorous volunteer advocate for people with disabilities. She has been an active member of the Hudson hip advisory Board; of the Monday Morning project, the grassroots advocacy movement; and of the Disability Parking Review Board of the Bayonne Mayor’s Committee on Disability. As a longtime hip member, Ms. Consiglio brings a strong and experienced voice for self-advocacy and community advocacy to the Board of Trustees.

Anne Marie Prendergast of Fair Lawn is associate professor of English at Bergen Community College, where she has taught since 1990. Professor Prendergast has published articles in academic journals and assisted Bergen’s Center for the Study of Intercultural Understanding. In 2004, she received the Award of Excellence from the National Institute for Staff and Organization Development for teaching excellence in the “open access” setting of the community college. “Teaching in this environment energizes me,” she explains, “and witnessing students’ awakening to the power and value of words in their academic and personal lives inspires me.”

Hyacinthe Nkurunziza of Paterson is a resource accommodation specialist at Bergen Community College, in the Office of Special Services. His work is primarily devoted to assistive technology and notetaking. Born in Rwanda, Africa, he attended the National University of Rwanda until his education was interrupted because of war and genocide there in 1994. He pursued his education in Madagascar and graduated with honors, with the equivalent of a U.S. master’s degree in business management from the University of Antanana. He is currently a student at NJIT College of Computing Sciences, majoring in computer science. Mr. Nkurunziza was welcomed into the U.S.A. with refugee status in September 2001 and is on his way to becoming a U.S. citizen.
Congratulations to our new and returning Board Members
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 From the ADVOCATE’S DESK -- by Nancy Hodgins

Courtroom accessibility was big news in 2004 when a lawsuit, “Tennessee vs. Lane,” was heard before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case involved the denial of “dignified access” to a Tennessee courtroom because of its inherent structural inaccessibility. Mr. Lane, a wheelchair user, was a party in a legal case. The only courtrooms were on the second floor in an older courthouse without an elevator. Without being carried or crawling up the flight of stairs himself, Lane could not gain access. Because he held that these were not acceptable options, he didn’t appear and the case was decided against him. He sued the State of Tennessee for denial of access to the courtroom which he claimed was a denial of public services, programs, and activities to individuals on the basis of their disability, a violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of Lane and allowed him to receive monetary damages for discrimination.

Because of the attention focused on courtroom accessibility by the Tennessee vs. Lane suit, it became clear that this was not an isolated problem and that inaccessible courtrooms existed throughout the United States.

I witnessed a problem with accessibility about three years ago at the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack. I accompanied a hip consumer to court for a suit she was bringing against her landlord. A scooter user, she had informed the court that she required an accessible courtroom. When we arrived, we found that her case was being heard in a courtroom on an upper floor in an older wing not served by an elevator. No first-floor courtroom was available. When we complained, we were directed to an alternate stairway equipped with a wheelchair lift. To reach it, we had to take an elevator to a top floor in one wing, pass through to another wing, then through several offices to the back of a remote office. The lift was located behind an office worker’s desk on a stairway that was rarely used. Not an ideal solution, but do-able, or so everyone thought.


Unfortunately the lift gave out part way down the stairwell, and the consumer was stranded while several officers tried to get it started again. As time dragged on, we were concerned that we would be late for the case – or miss it altogether – and the consumer was somewhat embarrassed as a crowd of officers and staff members gathered around her as she sat in midair. After about 40 minutes, the officers managed to get the lift down, but we were obliged to reschedule the case for another day in a fully accessible first-floor courtroom.

The Supreme Court decision in the Lane vs. Tennessee suit focused national attention on the lack of courtroom access, prompting the U. S. Access Board to form a Courthouse Access Advisory Committee. For two years the committee examined and researched courthouse design in depth throughout the country. A focus of the committee was access to courtrooms that “inherently feature a variety of elevated spaces, including witness stands, jury boxes and judges’ benches.” Two full-scale mock courtrooms were created to test and evaluate the committee’s recommendations.


Recommendations published by the U.S. Access Board address:

  • Integrating accessibility into all stages of courthouse design and planning

  • Courthouse and courtroom entrances, including automated devices that facilitate access through heavy or monumental doors

  • Access solutions to judges’ benches that preserve the security and dignity afforded justices

  • Effective and economical solutions for providing access to raised witness stands, jury boxes, and clerks’ stations without disruption to court proceedings

  • Assistive listening technologies

  • Wheelchair seating for spectators

  • Signage and way-finding systems for people with vision impairments throughout courthouses

  • Accessible counters

  • Accessible jury deliberation rooms and jury assembly rooms

  • Secured areas including judges’ chambers and suites

  • Holding cells serving courtrooms

  • Outreach and education strategies for disseminating this information and raising awareness

“The committee’s recommendations will supplement accessibility guidelines the Board maintains under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Architectural Barriers Act,” said the Access Board. Further information on the work of this committee is available at www.accessboard.gov/caac/index.htm. We all need to be alert to courtroom accessibility and call attention to problems when we find them.
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  We Mourn ....
 Ethan Goff, beloved husband of our founder and executive director, Eileen. Ethan died on November 22nd after several years of declining health. All of us who knew him will remember fondly a kind and generous man who radiated good cheer and a sense of the joy of living whenever we were with him. Ethan was an owner of Palisade Lumber & Supply in Jersey City. A member of the Peninsula Masonic Lodge, he belonged to the Fort Lee Rotary Club and was a 40-year member of the JCC of Fort Lee as well as a former volunteer for the Englewood Cliffs Ambulance Corps. He was also a volunteer at Liberty Science Center for many years. Many people attended Ethan’s funeral, where we were awed by the touching tributes of his sons, Andrew and Danny, other family members, and friends. Ethan’s benevolence lives on as gifts to hip in his memory are earmarked for Laura’s Legacy, a private funding source at hip that “reaches out with a heart” to provide financial assistance to individuals and families in special need.
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  The View from HUDSON
 The View from HUDSON, by Marianne Valls

Expectations make the world go round. Parents anticipate that their children will grow up to be doctors, lawyers or, depending on ethnicity, even Indian chiefs. When I was in my twenties and single, I lived in my parents’ house. They never expected me to be gainfully employed. So until later in life, I never even tried, even though I have a college degree.

Lack of expectations is an obstacle for people with disabilities. We are still expected to sit “in the back of the bus,” if we manage to get on the bus at all. It is usually expected that we will receive a government check. Regrettably, subtle negative messages are often sent to people who already have many difficult challenges to overcome.


I am one of the lucky ones in that I have a whole bunch of cheerleaders on my side. They expect me to do my best and readily tell me when my work is not up to their standards. They believe in my writing ability, even when I don’t. They do not see me as a “poor baby” nor my work as mediocre. When I told my friend Carole that I was limiting my job at hip to my column, she immediately asked when I was going to get another job. The confidence that she apparently has in my ability to find another job fills me with a pride beyond belief. My friend and colleague, Paulette, asks me to make phone calls, something she knows I hate to do. She realizes that success depends on our doing a lot of work over the phone. I am slowly conquering my phone phobia because of her faith in me.


Even my wonderful home health aide, Eileen, has joined my support network. Although she keeps her clients’ homes spotless, her busy lifestyle prevents her from cleaning her own home to her very high standards. One day as she straightened out my closets, Eileen confessed that she wished she could find the energy to organize her own. As she was leaving, I jokingly challenged her to go home and clean out one of her closets that day. Eileen joked back that she expected me to have 250 words written by next morning. We both met our deadlines.

It didn’t stop there. I showed her a short story I had written. She loved it. Ever since, she begins the day by making me a cup of coffee and buttering my toast, after which she puts the light on over my computer, which is in a dark corner of my apartment. I am gently reminded that I need to go to work.
Expectations are mirrors of what people can become if they try hard enough. Although feelings might be hurt when we push people to do their best, we ought not hold back criticism. The real world is full of tough competition. Often it is the way we criticize that is harmful.

Centers for Independent Living can play a leading role in assisting people with disabilities to become valuable, contributing members of the community. After all, isn’t that what we preach to the community at large? Expectations do indeed make the world go round.

On the Move Ends 2006 With a Blast!!!

The end-of-year leisure time program for our Bergen County teens and young adults who are members of “On the Move” was chock full of upbeat activities. Thirty-six young people enjoyed lunch at a Japanese hibachi restaurant followed by a movie, a trip to the Museum of Natural History in New York City, and a Saturday morning outing at a bowling alley. In December, “On the Move” participants joined with hip’s general membership to enjoy the gala holiday party at Gatsby’s in Cresskill. All were dressed in their finest attire and totally took over the dance floor. Everyone left with gifts, along with the warm glow of a very successful party. Hats off to Lucy Montalvo and Bill Jones, program coordinators, who are assisted by Abiola Acha. They all make “On the Move” the huge success it continues to be.
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  The best award we can receive ...
 The best award we can receive is one that comes from those we serve...

Daniel Ray, a graduate of hip’s “On the Move” program, now resides in New York.

He attended the gala holiday party on December 17th and presented Eileen Goff, executive director, with a beautiful plaque that says:
Presented To Heightened Independence and Progress

“Thank you for everything you have done for everyone.
Merry Christmas to all and a very Happy New Year” from Daniel Ray

The plaque proudly hangs in hip’s conference room, and inspires many warm thoughts.
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  What's new with the hip staff?
 Congratulations to Najwa and Derek DeMartino, the proud parents of their first child, Tyler, who was born on Friday, December 15, 2006, weighing in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce.

We are very pleased to have Pia Valere-Adams, an experienced Bergen Ease care manager, filling in as project coordinator of Caregiver Assistance and Support.
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  Ways to Give to hip
 Starting on March 1, gifts to hip can be made by VISA or Mastercard. In addition to always-welcome unrestricted gifts, hip suggests several channels of giving that may appeal to our friends. Call hip at 201-996-9100 or give by e-mail: ber@hipcil.org.

Laura’s Legacy, a fund created by the hip Board in memory of the daughter of Board member Lillian Ciufo, helps a family or an individual in need each year. Recipients are identified by hip staff and Board members. Laura Ciufo fully understood the concept of helping others. Her spirit continues to be with us as we assist others in her name.

Tribute Cards to extend best wishes or congratulations for happy events, or to express sympathy, are available at hip. Attractively designed on cream-colored stock with burgundy ink, the cards are personalized for you with the occasion or a brief tribute and the sender’s name. A phone call and a contribution to hip will send your card on its way to an appreciative recipient.

United Way Contributions can be directed to hip either through an employee program or independently. Just designate Heightened Independence and Progress as the recipient of your donation.

Gifts Galore

Usually caught up in the “busyness” of life, hip staff in both Bergen and Hudson recently experienced the joy of distributing an abundance of gifts during the holiday season. Through the combined efforts of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, Saint Peter’s Church in River Edge, corporations and many other generous people, hip distributed hundreds of gifts to individuals and families. Two families even received decorated Christmas trees!

Students from the Eric S. Smith Middle School in Ramsey delivered approximately 100 wrapped gifts (including a small refrigerator!) for us to share with designated families. Another 87 individuals from 48 different families were the recipients of gifts collected under the coordination of Chris Black, Pastoral Minister for Catechesis at St. Peter’s Parish. In addition to toys, clothing, and household items, we received in excess of $1,000 in supermarket gift certificates. We have also been able to share 200 teddy bears through the efforts of Krista Garofalo at Bergen County’s United Way.

The calendar has now turned to 2007 and our offices are cleared of gifts that were either picked up or delivered by hip staff. All that remains of the holiday season are our memories, and they will warm our hearts for quite some time to come.
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  Hudson Youth Are Envisioning Success!
 Alternative High School Students in Program Tailored to Their Needs

The Hudson County YES! Program is continuing to grow. As a result of past successes and word-of-mouth publicity from teachers and students who have participated, we are providing self-advocacy skills training to more diverse groups of students. For example, students at an alternative high school have benefited from the YES! program. The Hudson transition coordinator worked with the school’s counselor to tailor the program to the particular needs of these students, who are involved in a vocational training curriculum. Information and referral services as well as training in self-advocacy skills were provided.
Hearing-Impaired Students to Interact With Hearing Peers

With the assistance of a sign language interpreter, Hudson hip’s transition coordinator will, for the first time, be working with a group of hearing-impaired high school students. These students are eagerly looking forward to being a part of the YES! Program. This experience will be unique for these students because it will be the first time they will have the opportunity to interact with, share experiences, and learn from their hearing peers.
For more information on Hudson YES! programs, contact Marian Padilla, Independent Living Transition Coordinator at the Hudson hip office.
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  No Snow? Reports Show a Flurry of Bergen YES! ...
 No Snow? Reports Show a Flurry of Bergen YES! Activity

Unprecedented Number of Students Complete YES! Workshops This Fall

In the third year of the program, Bergen YES! has yet again been able to offer self-advocacy skills workshops to an unprecedented number of students in Bergen County high schools. From September through December, we have worked with an astounding 200 students ages 14 to 21. We are starting to see some of the same students as they progress through the grade levels. This allows the transition coordinator to work with students on more advanced topics targeting the more specific needs of these familiar faces. “How to Get Ready for Your First DVR Meeting” was a very popular topic this fall, designed to help students develop the skills and confidence to make the most of their first meeting with the NJ Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, so that they can work together on employment issues after graduation.

Freshman year a critical time

Some schools have been so happy with our work with students in the higher high school grades that they have asked us to work with their younger students as well. In fact, one of our fastest growing groups of participants right now are high school freshmen. This is a critical time when many students are attending their first Individualized Education Program (IEP) annual meeting to plan their academic future. These meetings with teachers and other school staff can be intimidating for many students and challenging for many families. This led us to seek input from teachers and child study team members to create an “IEP 101” introductory workshop designed to give students a straightforward explanation of the IEP process.

Looking for Help with Your Child’s IEP?

Over the next few months, thousands of students will sit down with their parents, teachers, and counselors for their annual Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings to plan for their future. If you are a parent who would like some help preparing for an IEP meeting, our transition coordinator is happy to assist. He is able to meet with students and their families in advance to discuss strategies and provide information about what to expect and if necessary, will even attend the meeting to act as an advocate on behalf of students. On the other side of the coin, the transition coordinator often attends IEP meetings at the request of school districts wishing to inform families of services available through hip for independent living as well as other community-based supports which may be helpful both after graduation as well as in the period leading up to the big day. For more information on these services, contact Andrew Skea in the Hackensack office.
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  LEAD Season Opens: Keys to a Dynamic Program

Leadership +

Education +

Advocacy +


LEAD, our statewide program for teens with visual impairments, has launched its 2006-07 school season. Events kicked off with an icebreaker in which students and parents participated in activities to become acquainted with one another. Recent sessions were devoted to strengthening computer skills, peer support, and social skills enhancement. At a state convention, students attended workshops and had the opportunity to meet employed adults with vision impairments who are also community activists. The autumn season concluded with a statewide holiday party, which took place in an elegant hotel setting. There was food, fun, and dancing at this joyous event!

Exciting upcoming events include sessions on dressing for success, tips for staying at a hotel, computer assistive technology, employment interview techniques, and a three-day trip to Washington DC for a national leadership training program. Everyone is anticipating a successful season! Further information about LEAD can be obtained by contacting Lori Spano at Bergen hip.
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  New and Renewing Members for 2007
 Membership in hip Grows for 2007

We are grateful to all the Early Birds who have joined or rejoined hip for the year 2007. Following are the names of these loyal friends:

Tamalia Amy Abrams & familyTodd AdamsAudy Altine & familyIvis Alvarez
Susan AndrewsKevin Angelini & familyMichael AugustowiczFrances & Leslie Balter
Tina BarbuleanMegan Barron & FamilyLavonda BassetteDeborah Baumann
Annie G. BeenCarrie Belfiore & familyThomas BengaffGilbert Benson
Joan BerminghamMr. & Mrs. Darrell Bethea*April & Michael BilakJanice & Vince Blehl
Paula H. BloomThomas BodenburgJerry BojkoSusanne Breckwoldt
Heather Broad Ellen M. BrockmannRosa BruscoLilith Bryant
Mr. & Mrs. George BullerdickPat CalabreseTerri & Christine CalauttiTonielle Cardinalle
Mary & Al CarneyTom & Susan CarneyTrish CarneyNancy Carr
Kay Chase*Joyce Chase-ThorpeArmine ChilianMr. & Mrs. Robert Ciccone
Danielle CicconeLillian CiufoDavid Clark & familyChrissie Cluney
Elizabeth Cohen Patricia ConsiglioMargaret Cook LevyJames Corbett
Christopher CordesDolores CordierJim & Jean Csaposs*Rev. Dr. Cathy Deats
John-Michael Della Valle & familyRalph M. DeSimoneJohn De Witt* Donald Disch
Josephine DonalsonJames F. DoughertyMary DrylewiczBarbara Dublin*
Robert J Duffy*Dennis DusevicGeorge O. Dyer IIIWilliam J. Eisenman
Austin EpsteinLottie EstebanAnne FactorFair Housing Council+
Anthony FavoritoEdward FedushGlenn P. FeinbergBetty Fetzer*
Lisa A. FirkoKurt FischerVirginia FlynnBeldeen Fortunato
Tommy FrancoChristine FranzBeverly J. FrostLottie M. Fulmore
Geraldine GalvinGlenn GardnerDavid & RoseAnn GarippaGail Geresi
Natalie Glicksman*Eileen & Ethan Goff*Alan & Lynn GoldMarcia Goldberg
Sallie Jo Hadley, MDAdam Harries & familyBojane HeapDana Marie Hemmings
Mr. & Mrs. Richard HermanNancy & Leonard HodginsHenry HofPeggy Jackson
Sue JohnsenCharles JohnsenJay JaniecNancy Judge
Rosemarie KasperGerri KearnsStefanie Keiser & familyMichelle Keller & family
Timothy KerrJoan F. Klug*Estelle KrumenakerJeanne Laraia
Adam Craig Larson & familyVirginia L. LaughlinMarie C. LewisGloria Lieberstein
Judith LiebmanRichard LillisRoy Lippin*Ralph Lombardi
Margaret MahoneyJoyce & Leonard Malech*Lucille MarkayDenise Marshall
Helen MarshallWilliam MatthewsRichard McDuffie, Jr.Laura McLarnon
Ronald McLearieAnn Melone*Luis M. MendezLisa H. Miller
Joseph MoleeLucia MontalvoNicholas W. MorethJohn Mulholland
Johann MullingsLetty J. Munz, Ph.d.Ernestine MurphAnna Navatta, Esq.+
Martha NebelingHyacinthe NkurunzizaJoseph NocitoErich & Pilar Odenheim
Jorge OlivaresMario OlivaresMarian PadillaMargaret Papageorgiou
Ji Hyeoe ParkRaymond PaytonAndrew PecorellaAdor M. Peralta
J.S. Perlman & Co.+Ursula Pico & familyDr. Sandra Ruth PinkertonStephen Polse
David Popiel, Esq.Carol PrellbergAnne Marie PrendergastNoel Prussack
Lillian RandDavid Reiter & familyLinda RepuldaJoseph Revello
Denise RevelloCourtney Riley & familyBrandon RodriguezRosemarie E. Rose
Marion RosensteinMr. & Mrs. Joseph RuffaloBeverly & Richard RyanEric Rypkema & family
Nita SalilengGladys San AntonioMrs. Jack Schwartz*Stephanie Seid & family
Roy SierssenRudolph M. Sims IIMaria E. SmithMr. & Mrs. Paul St. Germain
Jeffrey St. GermainStephanie ThomasJoan & Drew Thomson Mary & Anthony Tobia
Janet TolliverTyrone TowersMagdalena TruchanElizabeth Unger
Danny Vaca & familyLauren ValentaJoseph ValentiMaria Valentin
Marianne VallsSusan VaninoAngelissa VazquezMarily Vazquez
Ronald VidaMike VisoneRoberta “Bobbi” WailesLarry & Paula Walsh
Warren WilliamsRichard S. Wolfman*Kathleen WoodCarolyn E. R. Woodward*
Ruth S. Wyler-PlautMary & Anthony Yorio*Cathy ZimmermanJane Zintz
Maureen ZurloNancy & Cheryl Zweben 

+Corporate member
* Life member
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  Happy Birthday, Monsieur Braille!!
 January 4th was the birthday of the man who invented a system of reading and writing for people who are blind. Louis Braille was born in Coupvray, France, in 1809. He was blinded by an accident in his father’s harness shop when he was three years old. But even without his eyesight, he was the best student in his school, and went on to become a famous organist and cellist in Paris.

When he was still a student, Louis was frustrated by his inability to read and write. He heard about a French army officer who had devised a system of written communication of raised dots and dashes for nighttime battles. Braille borrowed the idea of the dots and set about creating an alphabet that could be read by touch. He decided that each letter would be represented by a different arrangement of six dots packed close enough that each letter could be read by a single fingertip.

Braille was only 43 when he died in 1852. His alphabet for blind persons didn’t come into widespread use until 1878, when it was presented at an International Congress in Paris. It went on to be used for virtually every major world language, and it was adapted for mathematical calculations and musical notations. The Braille System made it possible for the first time for people who are blind to learn to read and write and to enter practical professions.
No photographs of Louis Braille were taken when he was alive because photography had not progressed far enough. But observers said that he was of medium height, “slender, quite streamlined, and elegantly muscular. His head leaned forward, his blond hair curled naturally, his movements were free and easy.”
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  “Recycle Your AT” ...
 “Recycle Your AT”–How to Acquire or “Swap” Your Assistive Technology

For many people with disabilities, assistive technologies are helping to defeat dependence, frustration and isolation: text telephones for those with hearing impairments; computer monitors for those with visual impairments; lighter wheelchairs. Assistive technology gives individuals, particularly those with disabilities, the freedom to explore the possibilities of work, school and home, and helps to ensure that all individuals who want to work can find a job.

Although these modern technologies make the world more accessible, they are often unattainable to people who cannot afford them. The reuse of assistive technology devices is an important and practical way to meet the needs of so many who would otherwise go without or who could benefit from higher-level devices. Reusing AT provides devices to people who need them, saves resources, benefits taxpayers, prevents waste, decreases health risks, helps people maintain their level of care and builds confidence in the system.

Access to AT has a tremendous impact on the successful transition of young adults by assisting young people with disabilities to gain the training and skills they need to take advantage of opportunities for postsecondary competitive employment, education, independent living and community participation. Recycling and reuse of assistive technology just makes common sense.

The U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) has issued an accessible brochure, “Recycle Your AT,” which provides information about AT reuse programs, as well as resources available to those interested in learning more about these programs across the country. In New Jersey, interested persons should contact:

Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of NJ P&A

New Jersey Protection and Advocacy, Inc.

210 South Broad Street, 3rd Floor

Trenton, NJ 08608

Project Director: Ellen Cantanese

Phone: 609-292-9742

Phone: 800-922-7233 (In State)

TTY: 609-633-7106

Fax: 609-777-0187

Email: advocate@njpanda.org
Web: http://www.njpanda.org
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  Pot O’ Gold Winners ...
 Hooray!!!!! Pot O’ Gold Winners On Hand to Receive Prizes

At hip’s annual holiday party, the first-prize winner, Rich Finan of Lyndhurst, was on hand to receive $1,175. Although the second winner, nine-month-old Darrell Bethea Jr., was also present, he may not have been totally excited by his prize of $294. His parents, Darrell and Tamiko Bethea, generous supporters of hip, were present to enjoy his moment of fame. Timothy Kerr of Jersey City, once again the winner of $50 for selling the most raffle books, generously donated his prize to runner-up Michael Augustowicz of Paramus. Heather Broad of Maywood, leader of the Bergen County Polio Support Group, drew the winning tickets on December 16th at Bergen hip, with Rhea Hess, our ever-faithful Pot O’ Gold chair, standing by.
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  Prioritizing Affordable Housing by Steven Rothman
 The lack of affordable housing has plagued New Jersey residents for far too long. In fact, affordable housing is out of reach for most Americans, especially those who live in the Northeast. As a result of soaring housing costs, it is estimated that there are only 30 to 40 affordable housing units available for every 100 low-income families in New Jersey. Nationwide, up to 70 percent of low-income families have no access to affordable housing. This neglect must end. One of government’s greatest responsibilities is to protect the people-especially the most vulnerable citizens. Yet, today the lack of affordable housing has left too many people who are elderly or disabled without any options. Even more shocking, able-bodied Americans who are working full-time jobs cannot afford a home. Elected officials – at the local, state, and federal levels – must prioritize housing assistance programs and increase funding for them.

Governor Jon Corzine recently called for the construction of 100,000 new affordable housing units in New Jersey. I endorse this proposal and intend to help keep the momentum going. In the 110th Congress, I will introduce two critical affordable housing bills.
Funding shortfalls Both bills seek to address the funding shortfalls faced by local housing authorities as a result of recent federal policies. Since the Great Depression, the federal government has created programs to improve the average American’s access to affordable housing.
However, as is the case with so many vital social programs, our national investment in affordable housing has been inadequate over the past six years because of the misguided policies of President Bush and the Republican majority in Congress. To reverse this trend, my first bill will create 150,000 new Section 8 housing vouchers. The need for more housing assistance vouchers is so dire that 75 percent of those who qualify for public housing assistance cannot receive Section 8 housing vouchers because of the lack of availability. Nationwide, one-third of all recipients of Section 8 housing vouchers are either elderly or disabled. However, in New Jersey, the number is even higher – 43 percent, which means that more than 23,000 low-income elderly or disabled New Jerseyans receive housing assistance. My proposal to increase the number of Section 8 housing vouchers is intended to help this vulnerable population find a decent place to call home.

Long-term solution

My second bill offers a long-term solution to the funding problems faced by local public housing authorities. Currently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development distributes Section 8 voucher funding to local agencies based on a misguided formula that looks at the funding housing agencies needed during a specific three-month period in 2004. It then assumes that is the amount needed today. This funding formula causes some housing authorities to receive more funding than necessary, while others – like many agencies in New Jersey-receive insufficient funds. HUD’s process for funding housing assistance programs forces thousands of families to wait years before finding a home. In Jersey City alone, the wait for a family in need of Section 8 housing assistance can be as long as 10 years.

My legislation will reform the current funding formula and ensure that federal Section 8 vouchers are distributed to local governments based on actual need.
A decent place to call home The federal government, in partnership with local governments, must do everything possible to dedicate more resources to ensuring that Americans have a safe and decent place to call home.

I look forward to working within the new Democratic majority to advance the causes that matter most to the average American. Whether it’s mandating a livable wage, ensuring the retirement security of our seniors, or, as in this case, providing affordable housing for our most vulnerable population, I will continue my work to ensure that every American can live in dignity.

Steve Rothman, D-Fair Lawn, has represented New Jersey’s 9th Congressional District since 1997 and sits on the House Appropriations Committee This article first appeared as an Op-Ed piece in The Record, January 4, 2007.
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  Hats Off! To the Henry H. Kessler Foundation
 The name Kessler is a familiar one to countless numbers of people, who know the reputation of the Kessler Institute, the world-renowned rehabilitation center located in West Orange, New Jersey, which includes a number of satellite locations throughout the state. But many people may be unaware of the history and scope of activities associated with the name Kessler.

In 1948, Dr. Henry H. Kessler, an orthopedic surgeon, founded the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation to help people with disabilities achieve maximum independence. His dream went beyond treating the patient’s medical needs. He encouraged the development of research efforts, training programs for rehabilitation personnel, community education, and an international program to disseminate knowledge worldwide. Although Dr. Kessler died in the late 70s, the Henry H. Kessler Foundation remains committed to that vision by raising and distributing funds in support of Kessler Medical Rehabilitation Research and Education Corporation (KMRREC), promoting research, education and community rehabilitation programs, and providing aid for people with disabilities to assist with the expenses related to rehabilitation.

Support for the Employment of People with Disabilities

Lately, the Foundation has decided to focus the majority of its grant allocations towards increasing the employment of people with physical disabilities. They have studied national trends that point to an aging population, the increase of traumatic injuries and improved diagnosis of disabling conditions, all of which contribute to a population with disabilities that continues to expand. This growth occurs within a complicated context of reduced government spending on social programs, the uncertainty of social security, and a fluctuating economy.

There are approximately 1.5 million people in New Jersey with a disability. However, only one-third of these individuals work. Others say they would like to be employed if they had the opportunity. These individuals face many barriers, such as lack of transportation, access to vocational training, and willing employers, which limit workforce entry. The Kessler Foundation is committed to changing that picture. The Foundation’s website, www.hhkfdn.org, offers an impressive list of grants authorized in support of these important goals.

hip appreciates the financial support it has received for its advocacy and rehabilitation technology programs. Locally, we have also benefited by the Foundation’s support of a handbook for potential employers of people with disabilities, “It’s All About Work,” and its sponsorship of several training sessions for municipal officials, in cooperation with the Community Health Law Project and the Bergen County Division on Disabilities, on implementation of Title II of the ADA. hip has participated in both of these initiatives. For all of its contributions so far, and anticipating many good things to come to promote independent living for people with disabilities, hip salutes the Henry H. Kessler Foundation!
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  hip Holiday Party
 Over 200 hipsters, in a holiday mood, packed Gatsby’s in Cresskill on December 17th for our annual holiday party. As the music got livelier, the dance floor got busier, as the picture above shows. Below, Tom Bengaff and Margaret Papageorgiou were obviously having a great time. In the bottom photo, Chris Gagliardi, our “entertainer extraordinaire,” led the singing of holiday carols, as the party drew to a happy close.
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  hip Programs
 hip Offers Innovative Programs to Meet the
Independent Living Needs of People with Disabilities
in Bergen and Hudson Counties.

Founded in 1980, Heightened Independence & Progress (hip) has come a long way from its humble origins.  hip not only continues to provide vital assistance through information, referral, advocacy, and peer counseling, but also offers a wide variety of programs to people with all types of disabilities in Bergen and Hudson Counties.  The following is a summary of hip programs, with the project coordinator’s name and location.

ABLE–Athletics for Blind Leisure Enthusiasts maintains a year-round schedule of outdoor activities for individuals with vision loss.  Contact: Mike Visone (Hudson)

Adjustment to Vision Loss coordinates peer support groups and assists with access to mental health professionals for individuals with vision loss. Contact: Nancy Hodgins or Susan Vanino (Bergen)

Caregiver Assistance and Support Project (CASP) a component of Bergen EASE, provides care management to Bergen County residents 60 and over who are providing care for younger adults with physical disabilities. Contact: The Bergen Office

Community Advocacy and Outreach Program seeks to promote full inclusion through advocacy, education, and legislation. Contact: Nancy Hodgins (Bergen)

Leadership, Education, Advocacy, and Determination (LEAD), a statewide mentoring and skill-building project, assists high school students with vision loss in their transition to adult life. Contact: Lori Spano

Modification Access Project (MAP) assists with barrier-free home renovation projects from concept to completion. Contact: Maria Valentin (Bergen)

Multimedia Transcription Service (MTS) converts written materials into Braille, large print, and audiotape formats. Contact: Cathy Zimmerman (Bergen)

On the Move provides opportunities for young adults with physical, sensory, or learning disabilities to participate in recreation and social skills development programs.

Contact: Lucy Montalvo (Bergen)

Project Access reviews residential construction plans to ensure
compliance with existing legislation. Contact: Maria Valentin (Bergen)

Project Outreach to Disabled Minorities directs all Independent Living Services to individuals with disabilities of Afro-American or Hispanic origin, in English and Spanish.

Contact: Lucy Montalvo (Bergen) or Marily Gonzalez (Hudson).

Special Assistance for Independent Living (SAIL) provides funding for assistive devices or barrier-free home renovation projects. Contact: Noris Nunez (Hudson)

Special Needs Assistance Program (SNAP) facilitates acquisition of services and adaptive devices such as wheelchairs, bathroom equipment, hearing aids and more.

Contact: Maria Valentin (Bergen)

Support for Independent Living (SIL), a component of Bergen EASE, provides ongoing care management services through assessment, linkage, and coordination for people with disabilities (18-59). Contact:
Lori Spano (Bergen)

Support Groups– In Bergen: COPE (Multiple Sclerosis) and Women with Disabilities.

Contact: Paula Walsh.

Youth Envisioning Success (YES!) assists high school students and families to move from school to adult life. Contact: Marian Padilla (Hudson); Andrew Skea (Bergen).

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