hipnews Spring 2009 Edition
 
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Spring is Here and Things Are Jumping at hip!
Nifty Fifty is Selling Out Fast
Our New Journey Holds First Benefit Beefsteak
Nancy Carr Elected President of hip Board
Helen D. Marshall Completes Terms as President
Mental Illness... Is the Stigma Disappearing?
Work on Polling Site Accessibility Continues
News Notes from the Executive Director
A Very Special Thank You
We Mourn...
hip Partners with ADRC
hip Partners with Cornell-DBTAC Northeast ...
A Ruprecht Fund Grant May Meet Your Need
Job-Ready?
2009 New and Renewing Members
Over 700 Flock to Transition Fair
Youth Envisioning Success in Bergen County
It’s that Time of Year Again
Theresa Johnston – On the Fast Track
“Living Well with A Disability” Course ...
Think Picnic!!!
Are You Ready for Your Transition?
AVL Looks Towards the Future
hip Programs
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- hipnews Spring 2009 Edition Text Version -


  Spring is Here and Things Are Jumping at hip!
  
 Spring is Here and Things Are Jumping at hip! Get ready for Another Fabulous Night of Entertainment, “An Italian Fiesta”

“An Italian Fiesta” will be the theme of this year’s gala night of entertainment sponsored by hip on Saturday evening, May 9th, from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at the Fort Lee Recreation Center. The gala dinner dance will feature a return engagement by entertainer Gary Morton, dinner, dancing, and karaoke. Reservations are now being accepted. Tickets are $45. For reservations, call Theresa Johnston at hip’s Hackensack office: 201-996-9100. Persons with hearing loss should call our TDD: 201-996-9424. Invitations will be mailed shortly to hip members, but we want everyone to come who enjoys a great evening out with friends and family, so call hip today to make sure your place is reserved. VISA and MasterCard are accepted.
 
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  Nifty Fifty is Selling Out Fast
  
 A new fund-raising venture for hip, the Nifty Fifty, is well under way. Only 250 tickets, at $50 apiece, are being sold to raise $6,250 for hip and a like amount for three or more lucky winners. The drawing will be held at 10 p.m. on Saturday, May 9th at “An Italian Fiesta,” this year’s annual dinner dance. If you haven’t yet bought your ticket, or if you need more, call hip today. Several people can join together to split the cost of a ticket and share any winnings. First prize is $3,500, second prize $1,750, and third prize $1,000. If all tickets are not sold, the prizes will be awarded by percentage. Don’t wait – you could be one of the lucky winners, but only if you buy on time!
 
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  Our New Journey Holds First Benefit Beefsteak
  
 “Our New Journey,” a special project created by hip Board member Anne Ciavaglia McMahon, held its first annual beefsteak dinner on Friday, March 20th, at the Hasbrouck Heights VFW Hall. The benefit drew over 185 happy party-goers and at first count, raised $6,000+ to support local families who are experiencing unexpected challenges due to the sudden onset of illness or disability. Begun in 2007, “Our New Journey” has already helped over 100 families. Anne has assembled a group of dedicated friends and family members to assist her in this timely project, including fellow hip Board member Anne Marie Prendergast. Readers of hipNews can learn more about this enterprising group and their fine work at www.ournewjourney.org.
 
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  Nancy Carr Elected President of hip Board
  
 Nancy Carr Elected President of hip Board of Trustees

Nancy Carr, director of the Office of Specialized Services at Ramapo College of New Jersey, was elected president of the hip Board of Trustees at the Annual Meeting, November 18th, 2008. Ms. Carr, a Ridgewood resident, was for eight years the director of the Office of Specialized Services at Bergen Community College. Her career has also included service as Assistant State Coordinator of Services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing at the NY State Dept. of Education (1985-1988); executive director of Lexington Vocational Services Center, a not-for-profit in New York City (1988-1998); and teaching positions at Kent State University, Bergen Community College, San Diego State University, and Ramapo College. For 20 years, she was an assistant professor at New York University, where she taught graduate courses in the counseling professions. Ms. Carr is a licensed rehabilitation counselor who has served as project director of six major federal grants as well as numerous state and foundation grants. She has served as an expert witness in the judicial system in areas related to disability employment discrimination and was president of the national ADARA. She serves on the Bergen County Division on Disability Advisory Board.
 
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  Helen D. Marshall Completes Terms as President
  
 Helen D. Marshall completed two full terms as President of the hip Board of Trustees on November 18th and was elected to a new term as a member-at-large. A resident of Bayonne, Ms. Marshall joined the hip Board of Trustees in 1996 and served two terms as 1st vice president before being elected President in 2004. She has chaired the finance and fund development committees. Currently chairperson of the Hudson hip Advisory Board, Ms. Marshall has served on the Mayor’s Task Force for the Disabled in Bayonne and has been a support group leader for the Greater North Jersey Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which has honored her with its Achievement Award.

The following officers were elected to their second terms: Anna Navatta, 1st vice president; Richard Hodgman, 2nd vice president; and John De Witt, treasurer. Joan Bermingham continues in her second term as secretary.
 
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  Mental Illness... Is the Stigma Disappearing?
  
 A Columbia University Medical Center study in 1963 confirmed that Americans viewed people with mental illness with fear and lack of understanding. Professionals associated with the study hoped that, through educational campaigns and increasing public awareness, the stigma would significantly diminish. Forty-five years later, a stigma still attaches to mental illness in the minds of many Americans. Yet mental disorders are the leading disability in the U.S. and Canada for those 15–44. Mental disorders are diagnosed in one of every four adults annually. It is not surprising, then, that some of hip’s consumers, our friends, our neighbors, co-workers or relatives, have dealt with or are presently dealing with mental illness.

Discrimination against people with disabilities usually occurs through ignorance or lack of personal experience. With mental illness, discrimination occurs in housing situations, employment, in all of the same areas of life that disability discrimination in general occurs. Usually an “invisible disability,” it raises a difficult dilemma: whether to reveal this disability to others...especially employers. It is a very personal decision that varies depending on whom one wishes to reveal this to, and why. The good news is that people are beginning to be more understanding as more public figures are identified as having mental illness and as knowledge of treatment and new medication options become known. More people are seeking professional help for depression and anxiety disorders, numbers that are likely to increase during times of economic hardship and a diminishing job market. Much mental illness is considered to be biological in its origins, but it can be significantly reactive to stressful times and events.

So what can we do to bring about needed changes in attitudes and behavior regarding mental illness? We can act to dispel unfair characterizations of those who are dealing with this illness. Violent behavior (often cited by people trying to justify their intolerance) is no more prevalent than among those without mental illness. We can act to show acceptance of those whose behavior may seem different from ours. Encourage those who seem to be in distress to seek help.

One of the reasons that some have not sought medical help for their illness is that medical insurers have historically refused to pay for mental illness treatment at the same rate that they pay for other medical needs. This is not only unfair but contrary to all advice from mental health experts, who are clear that mental illness is usually quite treatable. Yet many individuals have been discouraged from seeking treatment because of the high cost of visits to the doctor. Many insurers will pay 80% of the cost of a medical doctor visit but sometimes only 25% of the cost of a mental health professional. The number of visits is usually limited to a fixed number and this inequity has gone relatively unchallenged.

A law suit in New York State resulted in a ruling that insurance companies can no longer offer different percentages of payments. It has taken a federal law to finally bring this parity to New Jersey, but the law will not take effect until January 2010. This change should finally make it easier for people to seek treatment and live fuller and healthier lives.
 
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  Work on Polling Site Accessibility Continues
  
 hip’s Advocate met with officials from the Bergen County Board of Elections as well as the Superintendent of Elections to share results of hip’s polling site survey conducted on Election Day. We are pleased to report that a good working relationship with Bergen County election officials continues, as evidenced by the positive results of our survey. Most problem sites previously identified by hip had been corrected and are now fully accessible. The officials we met with were eager to learn of our new findings and said that they will be communicating with the municipal clerks who have responsibility for choosing polling site locations.

All poll workers will be participating in accessibility training before the next general election. The importance of posting directions to alternate accessible entrances when necessary will be emphasized. We also learned that the Board of Elections is attempting to move all polling sites to publicly owned buildings which should help to eradicate many (though not all) of the present accessibility issues.

With each election, hip staff and volunteers work to broaden survey coverage to new areas. The results of the last survey identified 12 new problem sites and two previously identified sites that had still not been corrected. We are extremely grateful to all volunteers who surveyed their polling sites and submitted the results to hip. With everyone’s assistance, we will help Bergen County achieve full accessibility at all polling sites.

If you wish to become a Bergen County poll worker and are able to work from early morning until 8 pm on Election Day, call the Board of Elections at 201-336-6225 and request an application. The current salary for poll workers is $200 per day.

Two new members were elected to their first full terms on the Board of Trustees: Joseph M. Tomasko of North Arlington, recently retired as coordinator of Vocational Services for the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Lottie Esteban of Woodcliff Lake, Bergen County membership coordinator for ASPEN, the Asperger’s Syndrome Education Network, an organization she helped to create.

Elected to their second full terms on the Board were Hyacinthe Nkurunziza of Paterson, research assistant at Bergen Community College, in the Department of Retention Services, and Anne Marie Prendergast of Fair Lawn, associate professor of English at Bergen Community College. Elected to third full terms were Thomas Bengaff of River Vale, a systems operator by profession and facilitator of the Monday Morning Advocacy Project, Bergen Network, and Roy Lippin of Fort Lee, a member of the NJ Advisory Council of Traumatic Brain Injury, the Fort Lee ADA Advisory Board, and the NJ Protection and Advocacy Advisory Board for TBI.
 
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  News Notes from the Executive Director
  
 The polling site survey for accessibility showed marked improvements for the recent Presidential election. The use of audible voting equipment for people with vision loss still poses significant problems. The equipment is cumbersome to use and frequently requires assistance, with the user experiencing major frustration in the process. The findings of the surveys have been shared with the Bergen County Department of Elections.

We regret that after ten successful years of administering ON THE MOVE, we have been notified that our funding is not available for 2009. We look forward optimistically to providing recreation programs for young adults in the future.

The MAP and SNAP programs are up and running, responding to a flood of requests from people in the community for funding to obtain assistive devices and home modifications. Beginning in April, requests can be processed.

Multimedia Transcription Service has caught up with the majority of textbooks needed for the current academic year. Although transcribers are still forwarding work to MTS headquarters, and other materials are being produced, time now can be devoted to outreach for the spring season. We are currently working on marketing the MTS Program to potential users as well as identifying additional braille transcribers.

Selected staff from Bergen and Hudson hip received training to enable our CILs to become involved with the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Fund. Our staff will receive referrals from the NJ Division of Disability Services for people who are eligible for services and funding through the TBI Fund. They will make home visits and create care plans with consumers and provide linkage to appropriate providers. This initiative will result in a “fee for service” arrangement with the NJ Division of Disability Services.

– Eileen Goff
 
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  A Very Special Thank You
  
 It is with real pleasure that we pay special tribute from time to time to individuals and groups who have shown extraordinary generosity to hip:

• Helen D. Marshall, immediate past President of the Board of Trustees, and Fran Meyer, hip’s first President, who recently became Life Members;
• The Lillian P. Schenck Foundation;
• The Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County;
• The Volunteer Center of Bergen County and Saint Peter the Apostle Church, River Edge, along with all of their wonderful contributors, who made the 2008 holiday season so bright for so many hip consumers.

Also
• Michael Cook, Michael Malik, and Donn Slonim.
 
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  We Mourn...
  
 Tommy Franco, longtime hip member. He was an enthusiastic participant, along with his devoted family, in many of our activities. Tommy resided at Spectrum for Living group homes, first in Closter and more recently in Westwood. He was a patron of the arts and enjoyed swimming, sports, and the company of his many friends. Tommy loved life and lived it to the fullest measure.
 
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  hip Partners with ADRC
  
 hip Partners with Aging & Disability Resource Connection (ADRC)

The NJ Departments of Health, Senior Services, and Human Services are working with federal and county governments and local providers to better coordinate services for seniors and people with physical disabilities who are 18 years of age and older. The Aging & Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) will help to bring people together with the services they need to continue living independently in the community for as long as possible. Both care management programs administered at hip, CASP and SIL, will be part of the ADRC. Along with the other Centers for Independent Living. hip has been contracted by the NJ Division of Health and Senior Services to provide disability training to ADRC care managers throughout the state, who until now have worked only with the aging community.

The Caregiver Assistance & Support Project (CASP), a component of Bergen EASE, which is soon to be ADRC, provides care management services to families with caregivers 60 years of age and over, who are caring for individuals with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 59. A plan of care, which addresses needs and sets goals, is developed jointly by the caregiver, the care manager and, in many instances, the care recipient. This enables consumers to direct their own services based on meeting their specific needs. A social worker then assesses the information that has been gathered in order to put the plan into action and obtain the most beneficial services.

Some examples of assistance include advocacy, linkage to appropriate resources and support groups, counseling, housing, health care and home care options, and ongoing support and encouragement. This collaborative effort promotes well being and optimal lifestyles, and recognizes the importance of empowering people to reach their goals through support from professionals who believe in the power of independence.

Support for Independent Living (SIL), which will also be part of ADRC, provides care management to individuals with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 59. Services provided for both care management programs are interchangeable. Other services not mentioned above include linkage to home-delivered meals, assistive devices, durable medical equipment, home modifications, and accessible transportation.
 
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  hip Partners with Cornell-DBTAC Northeast ...
  
 hip Partners with Cornell-DBTAC Northeast for March 18th Workshop to Encourage Employment of People with Disabilities

“Discovering Untapped Talent: Strategies for Employing People with Disabilities” was the theme of a workshop held on March 18th at Bergen Community College, in which hip partnered with Cornell University-DBTAC Northeast ADA Center and the North Jersey-Rockland Chapter of the Society of Human Resource Managers. DBTAC stands for Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center; the Center staff presented the workshop.

An audience of approximately 50 participants learned of the latest trends and strategic practices for disability inclusiveness, how to prepare for the changing workforce, and how to enhance connections with customers with disabilities. Presenters helped them identify methods to locate and engage people with disabilities and how to successfully re-engage valuable employees who become disabled. A major focus was building strategic collaborations in the community to enhance disability inclusiveness.

Funding to create and deliver the workshop was provided by a grant from the Kessler Foundation. Bergen Community College graciously hosted the event.

How to Increase the Employment of People with Disabilities was the theme of a workshop co-sponsored by hip at Bergen Community College on March 18th.
 
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  A Ruprecht Fund Grant May Meet Your Need
  
 The Alan and Peggy Ruprecht Fund, created by the Polio Network of New Jersey, and named in memory of the founders of Drive-Master, Inc. of Fairfield, has entered its ninth year of providing grants to assist polio survivors living in our state. Since January 2001, hip has ably administered the fund, which has made 49 grants totaling $15,682. PNNJ chose an outside administrator to preserve confidentiality and impartiality. The funds come to PNNJ entirely through the generosity of polio survivors, their friends, and supporters of the Network. Direct assistance, in whole or in part, is provided to individuals for products and services that may be difficult to finance for many who are living on fixed incomes. An individual can qualify for a grant of up to $500 once annually. Payment is always made to the provider of the product or service. Each grant has met a need that could not have been easily fulfilled by any other source, with possibly lengthy waiting periods, and perhaps not even then.

Maria Valentin at hip will be glad to hear from interested persons. While family income is a factor, it is not the sole criterion for eligibility. We all know it costs a lot to be disabled – many families well above the poverty line incur extraordinary expenses because of disability. So if you, or someone you know, has had polio and is in need of limited financial assistance, don’t hesitate to apply. PNNJ welcomes visitors to their website: www.njpolio.org.
 
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  Job-Ready?
  
 In these difficult economic times, finding and keeping a job can be overwhelming challenges. Readers of hipNews who are seeking employment and are “job-ready” may call for helpful advice from Nancy Hodgins at Bergen hip and Kathy Wood at Hudson hip. They will do all they can to help connect you with appropriate resources.
 
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  2009 New and Renewing Members
  
 hip is grateful for the support of so many new and renewing members of our CIL.

Tamalia Amy AbramsTodd Adams
Olivia & Luisa AlbuquerqueAudy Altine & Family
Roselyn AltmanIvis Alvarez
Susan AndrewsKevin Angelini
Anonymous *Miriam Abrams Arnold
Michael AugustowiczLasha Banks
Barbara BantaTina Barbulean
Linda BarrMegan Barron
Deborah Baumann-DasilvaCarrie Belfiore & Family
Thomas BengaffGilbert Benson
Sharon BermanJoan Bermingham
Mr. & Mrs. Darrell Bethea *Janice & Vince Blehl
Paula BloomJerry Bojko
Beverly BookbinderGail Braun
Barbara BraveSusanne Breckwoldt, Ph.D
Heather BroadEllen Brockmann
Lilith BryantMr. & Mrs. George Bullerdick
Ruth BurkePatricia M. Calabrese
Theresa & Christine CalauttiTonielle Cardinalle
Mary & Al CarneySusan & Tom Carney
Trish CarneyNancy Carr
Susan P. CarterKay Chase *
Armine ChilianMr. & Mrs. Robert Ciccone & Family
Lillian CiufoDavid Clark & Carolyn Clark
Barbara Comerford, Esq.Joseph P. Connors
James CorbettChristopher W. Cordes
Dolores CordierJean Csaposs *
Joanne Daly & FamilyMario & Veronica DeAppolonio
Rev. Dr. Cathy DeatsThomas De Gise
John-Michael DellaValleSarah Derico
Ralph M. DeSimoneJohn C. DeWitt *
Anthony DinaroDonald Disch
Josephine DonalsonJames Dougherty
Mary DrylewiczBarbara Dublin *
J. Robert Duffy *Dennis Dusevic
George O. DyerPatricia Ebel
Barbara EckerWilliam J. Eisenman
Austin EpsteinLottie Esteban
Anne FactorAnthony Favorito
Ed FedushGlenn P. Feinberg
Betty Fetzer *Virginia Flynn
Beldeen & Kristine FortunatoTommy Franco
Irene FrankStephanie Frank
Alicia FredaBeverly Frost
Gerardine GalvinMiller Galvis
Glenn GardnerDavid & Rose Ann Garippa
Gail GeresiPeter Gimbel
Alwyn B. GlasgowNatalie Glicksman *
Eileen Goff *Mr. & Mrs. Alan Gold
Angelissa Gonzalez-VazquezJanice Greaney
Diana Guerrero & FamilyMary Jo Hackett - Rehab Consulting Service
Adam Harries & FamilySarah F. Head
Bo Jane HeapRaymond Heffernan, Jr.
Sheryl HeffernanIlse Heller
Dana HemmingsNancy L. Henry
Anita W. HernandezElizabeth Cohen Hittner
Julie HobartNancy & Leonard Hodgins
Henry HofWalter T. Jablonski
Jay JaniecSue & Charlie Johnsen
Theresa JohnstonNancy Judge
Rosemarie KasperGerri Kearns
Stefanie KeiserMichelle Keller
Lorraine KendelTimothy Kerr
Joan F. Klug *Adam Krass
Estelle KrumenakerSilvia Labombarda
Ellen LaFurnJohn Lampert
Jeanne LaraiaVirginia L. Laughlin
Susan LeeJanet Levene
Marie C. LewisGloria Lieberstein
Judith LiebmanRichard Lillis
Roy Lippin *Diane Love
Mr. & Mrs. Leonard Malech *Janet C. Marcus
Helen D. Marshall*Eileen R. Martin
William MatthewsKevin May
Laura McLarnonPhillippa McLeod
Ann Melone *Luis M. Mendez
Dr. Frances Meyer*Lisa H. Miller
Melissa Modero & FamilyNicholas W. Moreth, Jr.
John MulhollandJohann Mullings
Letty J. MunzMartha Nebeling
Hyacinthe NkurunzizaHelen Nonas
Eric & Pilar OdenheimRosemary Overton
Emerlinda S. PadillaMarian Padilla
Margaret PapageorgiouJi Hyeoe Park
Andrew PecorellaAdor M. Peralta
Ursula Pico & FamilyMarianne Pigoncelli *
Toni PinesAnn Plotino
David PopielAnne Marie Prendergast
Brian & Edna QuinonesKathleen Rager
David ReiterJoe Revello
Brandon Rodriguez-PadillaRosemarie Rose
Lil & Len RubinChristopher T. Russo
Beverly RyanEric Rypkema
Nita SalilengMary San Filippo
Marie SawyerMrs. Jack Schwartz *
Karin SegelbacherStephanie Seid
Donn SlonimFredelia Smith
Lynn SmithMaria E. Smith
Jo Ann StruzienskiStephanie Thomas
Anthony & Mary C. TobiaJanet Tolliver & Joseph Molee
Joseph M. TomaskoAndrea & Angela Torres
Elizabeth UngerDanny Vaca
Lauren ValentaJoe Valenti
Marianne VallsSusan Vanino
Joyce VassalloRon Vida
Michael F. VisoneRoberta Wailes *
Larry & Paula WalshEllen L. Williams
Warren WilliamsRichard S. Wolfman *
Kathleen WoodMr. & Mrs. Anthony Yorio *
Cindy ZirkinMaureen Zurlo
Nancy, Barry and Cheryl Zweben
 
Corporate Members
Richard M. Hodgman and Company, CPA
Anna P. Navatta, Esq. – Northeast NJ Legal Services
Lee Porter – Fair Housing Council of Northern NJ
Dan Stenchever – Proforma
 
Life member *
 
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  Over 700 Flock to Transition Fair
  
 Over 700 Students and Parents Flock to Transition Fair

“Confidence...dreams... determination...opportunity.” These powerful concepts motivated transitioning students and their parents to turn out in overwhelming numbers on the evening of March 19th for a Transition Fair at Bergen Community College. Over 700 people came, showing how urgently families need information and support as they help their sons and daughters prepare for their transition to adult life.

We are proud that hip was not only a sponsor, but a major participating agency in the free event, which featured workshops for parents on a variety of subjects: The Transition Process and Skills Necessary to Enter the Workforce, including Competitive and Supported Employment (hip’s transition coordinator, Sarah Derico, was a presenter); Preparing Students for College; Establishing Guardianships; and Exploring the Benefits and Opportunities in the Building Trades. Presenters were professionals in their fields invited from the community.

Other sponsoring groups were Special Education Region V of Bergen County, the NJ Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and BCC’s Division of Continuing Education. Representatives were on hand from the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities, Bergen County’s Division on Disability Services, the Bergen County Workforce Center, Access Link, 28 colleges, 47 social service agencies, trade schools, employment agencies, and law firms.
 
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  Youth Envisioning Success in Bergen County
  
 The Youth Envisioning Success program (YES!) is working with Bergen County schools to offer independent living skills workshops to students with disabilities. These workshops teach the self-advocacy and communication skills necessary to succeed. In this school year alone YES! has offered group workshops or individualized assistance to more than 300 students from 41 towns in the county. Services will continue to be provided year-round for parents and students at hip and in the high schools. Students and parents are encouraged to visit hip and to make use of the center’s large array of services as an ongoing resource while in high school and after graduation. Call us at the Bergen office for further information.

–Sarah Derico, Independent Living Transition Coordinator, Bergen hip.
 
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  It’s that Time of Year Again
  
 Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings are soon approaching. Once it is determined that a student is eligible, the IEP team has 30 calendar days to meet and begin developing the student’s IEP. As an essential member of the IEP team, students should discuss their strengths and offer insight into their learning styles, interests, and goals.

Some questions students might want to ask themselves when preparing for IEP meetings are: (1) What are my strengths in and out of school? (2) What are some of my challenges? (3) What can be put in place to better help me reach my goals? (4) What are my goals (annual and long-term) and interests? Parents can help by asking their own questions.

The checklist below can offer some guidance to be an effective advocate:

– Ask about the time and location. If necessary, you have the option to reschedule.
– Ask who will be attending the meeting.
– Ask to review your education records and list any questions regarding the information contained in those records. Records may include, but are not limited to, assessments, evaluations, observations by teachers, and past IEPs.
– Learn more about your disability.
– Consider whether your current program goals/objectives are appropriate and think about what you might want to change.
– Compile a list of questions to be asked and issues to be discussed.
– Organize all documents that are to be submitted to the IEP team.
– If necessary, contact an advocate for assistance, information, or support. Make the school aware if you will be bringing an advocate.

IEP meetings can be overwhelming and a little intimidating. If you’re looking for assistance, Sarah Derico, the Bergen hip Transition Coordinator, can help. Ms. Derico can sit down with students and their families prior to the IEP meeting to give support and information. She is also able to work with schools as an information resource. For more information, please contact her in the Bergen hip office.
 
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  Theresa Johnston – On the Fast Track
  
 Congratulations to Theresa Johnston, hip’s Independent Living administrative assistant and Multimedia Transcription Service coordinator, who was the keynote speaker at the Fort Lee Housing Authority’s Annual Women’s Day Event at the Doubletree Hotel in Fort Lee on Saturday, March 7th. Theresa inspired all of the attendees as she shared her personal story of how, with the help and support of mentors and positive role models, she has overcome adversity in her life and is on the fast track to achieving all of her goals.
 
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  “Living Well with A Disability” Course ...
  
 “Living Well with A Disability” Course to be Offered by Hudson hip

“Living Well with a Disability” is an eight-week workshop using goal setting and problem solving as the framework for developing healthy lifestyles. Most of us practice healthy living when we have meaningful activities we want to do, so the “Living Well” workshop begins with why we want to be well. Subsequent sessions concentrate on developing tools and skills for healthy living, including healthy reactions and communication, managing depression, information seeking, physical activity, nutrition, and advocacy.

Former “Living Well” participants report improvement in outlook and positive changes in daily activity, such as new recreational pursuits or returning to school. Many learn they can pursue meaningful goals despite limitations. Finally, a sense of belonging develops as participants feel accepted and encouraged by peers.

The course will be taught by Peter Gimbel, MSW. Mr. Gimbel has a wealth of experience and information to share based on the “Living Well” curriculum as well as his own experiences as an individual with a disability. The course will take place at the Hudson hip office over an eight-week period beginning in early spring. There is something in this course for everyone. Transportation will be provided on a first-come first-served basis; those interested are urged to sign up early as space is limited.
 
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  Think Picnic!!!
  
 It’s not too early to mark your calendars for the Bergen hip annual picnic – June 16th – at the Englewood Boat Basin. Our always-beautiful evening of outdoor supper and entertainment is one of the two most popular hip events of the year. You won’t want to miss it. Remember that free admission applies to hip members, a nice bonus for many of us.

Hudson hippies! Watch for a date in June for the Hudson hip annual picnic – another event not to be missed.
 
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  Are You Ready for Your Transition?
  
 As winter changes to spring and the end of another school year approaches, transitioning students and their families should be considering several things that will determine how ready they are for life after high school. Although transition planning should have been ongoing since the age of 14, students who will be graduating or aging out of the school system should be going over their checklist to see if they will be ready for life after the graduation ceremony.

Some components of your transition plan you may want to revisit at this time are:

• Post-Secondary Education plans: Options include four-year college or university, community college, trade school, adult vocational or technical school.

• Career Exploration and Development: Issues include vocational evaluation and/or vocational training, job exploration, and job sampling.

• Documentation: Be sure to obtain a copy of your Individualized Education Program (IEP) as well as an updated educational and psychological assessment. In order to provide the necessary accommodations, colleges require written documentation of a student’s disability.

Other things to consider during transition include independent living skills, financial needs, insurance needs, medical needs, and guardianship (if necessary). You also want to be sure you have registered with the appropriate service agencies such as Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS), Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI), Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), and Hudson or Bergen hip, your county’s Center for Independent Living (CIL).

Although it may all seem overwhelming, you may contact your CIL’s transition coordinator who serves as a liaison to post-secondary resources and will be happy to assist you as you move from being a student into your adult life.

–Marian Padilla, Hudson hip Independent Living Transition Coordinator
 
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  AVL Looks Towards the Future
  
 The Adjustment to Vision Loss Project (AVL) is planning an exciting and informative daylong conference for everyone involved with AVL peer support groups for people living with vision loss. The event will be on Friday, June 5th, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in Clark, New Jersey. The event will focus on surviving a disaster, and how best to sustain mental health and emotional resiliency during and after a crisis.

For this conference, AVL is honored to have two exceptional keynote speakers. Alex Kehayan, EdD, is an author, educator, and clinical psychologist. He directs the Edu-Psych Center in Ridgewood. He is also the deputy chief of the Community Emergency Management Team (CERT) in Fort Lee. Joseph C. Napoli, MD, specializes in disaster psychiatry, traumatic stress, and post-traumatic stress disorders. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, where he teaches emergency psychiatry. Our own brilliant AVL mental health consultants James Warnke, LCSW, and Cathy Deats, LCSW, will also be on hand to conduct workshops and offer their expertise on these timely topics.

There are many reasons to look towards the future, especially for Myles Williams, a 51-year-old man who is blind and never completed high school. Myles has been a source of inspiration to many, but most recently on February 20th, as valedictorian of the graduating class of GED students at Bergen Community College.

In addition to achieving his goal of attaining his GED, he also was recipient of the Adler Family Scholarship, which will provide full tuition for a degree program at the college.

Two years ago, Myles started “Eyes on Paterson,” an AVL support group for individuals living with vision loss. He is already attending classes at the college and is majoring in Communications.

Target areas for new groups are always being identified. One such group is slated to begin in late spring in Mercer County. The AVL network provides support to 50 groups throughout 14 counties in northern and central New Jersey, and continues to grow. If you or someone you know has vision loss and wishes to participate in an AVL peer support group, please call Susan Vanino at hip’s Bergen office.
 
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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 support, but also offers a wide variety of programs to people with all types of disabilities in Bergen and Hudson Counties.  Some programs have statewide, even national impact.  The following is a summary of hip programs.

A New Journey provides financial help to families newly impacted by the onset of illness or disability. Contact: Anne Ciavaglia McMahon (201-288-2867)

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: Alicia Freda (Bergen)

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

Hispanic Outreach Program directs all Independent Living services to individuals with disabilities of Hispanic origin, in English and Spanish. Contact: Lucy Montalvo (Bergen) or Marily Gonzalez (Hudson)

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: Maria Valentin (Bergen)

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: Theresa Johnston (Bergen)

Polio Network of New Jersey – The Ruprecht Fund. Named in memory of the founders of a nationwide mobility service organization for people with disabilities, hip administers this fund for PNNJ to help polio survivors in New Jersey finance necessary products and services. Contact: Maria Valentin (Bergen)

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

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

Special Needs Assistance Program (SNAP) provides funding and 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: Alicia Freda

Support Groups – 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); Sarah Derico (Bergen).
 
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