hipnews Summer 2009 Edition
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So Proud of our LEADers
All 12 New Jersey CILs Protest ...
hip, hip, hurray for Christopher Gagliardi!
Advocacy Organizations Issue Calls for Action
Keeping the Success in the Bergen YES! Program
Congratulations to the Recent Graduates!
Students say YES! to Summer Program
Hudson hip Holds Summer Soiree
Dare to Dream
hip Thanks our Supporters...
We Welcome the Following New and Renewing Members
“Italian Fiesta” a Huge Success
AVL Project Draws 150 to Conference on Resiliency
Special Thanks to New Friends. . .
Bergen Picnic Beats the Odds
hip programs
First Nifty Fifty Raises “Big Bucks” for hip
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- hipnews Summer 2009 Edition Text Version -

  So Proud of our LEADers
 The 2008/2009 LEAD season for high school students with vision loss concluded at Camp Marcella on June 13th, when 13 participants of Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Determination graduated from the program. LEAD students represent all geographic regions of New Jersey, and 40 were in attendance, along with the six fabulous LEAD coordinators, and Maria Valentin, hip’s LEAD administrator.

This year LEAD graduates have varied plans which include working, traveling and preparing for the next step in their education. Some are attending community colleges, while others are headed for the Art Institute of Philadelphia, Rutgers, and the University of Maryland.

Perhaps the quality of LEAD is best demonstrated by the enthusiastic comments of those who attended the graduation ceremony:

“LEAD taught me to be independent.”
“I’ve gotten beyond my comfort zone.”
“I ran for, and won, a place on my School Council.”
“I can better accept myself the way I am.”
“LEAD mentors set a great example for me.”

Following the summer recess, LEAD will begin its new season, with new and returning young people. We are so proud of the accomplishments of everyone involved, and commend the mentors/coordinators for the wonderful role models that they are.
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  All 12 New Jersey CILs Protest ...
 All 12 New Jersey Centers for Independent Living (CILs) Protest in Trenton...and We Succeed!

It was a heartening sight on May 14th. About 250 people were arriving at the State House in Trenton. It was a dreary and rain-threatened day, but the weather couldn’t dampen people’s spirits. They came from all over the state, arriving on trains, cars, and buses. This was one of those special causes that brought together all 12 New Jersey Centers for Independent Living, volunteers and staff alike.

Demonstrators carried handmade signs imploring Governor Corzine not to carry out his proposal to cut $125,000 of Independent Living funds from the state budget. The planned cut seemed like such an insignificant amount on a statewide scale, but cutting so much from the state-funded CILs would have a very serious impact. The five state-funded CILs already carry out their mission and provide programs and services on meager and insufficient funding. They need every penny they have been receiving and more. This cut would certainly have meant the loss of vital programs and/or staff at these five agencies and seriously hamper their work. It would also have a detrimental impact on the many people with disabilities who rely on the programs and services these CILs offer.

The seven New Jersey CILs that receive their Independent Living funds from the federal government – not the state – would not be affected by this proposed cut, yet all united behind the threatened five. Demonstrators wore t-shirts proclaiming that cuts to Independent Living must stop. Marchers used bullhorns and signs to make their feelings known to legislators inside the State House and to all those nearby. Passing cars sounded their horns and people shouted words of support on the street and from their cars. Students visiting Trenton on a class excursion joined us. Petitions were circulated by all 12 CILs in the days before the demonstration – over 500 signatures were delivered to state officials. The speakers at the rally were parents, legislators, and a number of individuals from the Independent Living movement. All spoke passionately about how vital every dollar is to enable state-funded CILs to continue their work.

This joining of forces, with all 12 CILs united and speaking in one voice, successfully averted the $125,000 cut.

– Nancy Hodgins, hip Advocate
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  hip, hip, hurray for Christopher Gagliardi!
 Christopher Gagliardi received 15% of the vote in the June 2nd primary election for a state Assembly seat in District 37. On June 3rd, the Bergen hip staff hosted a dessert reception in his honor.Now 29, Christopher has dealt with the challenges of autism all his life; in fact, he was nonverbal during his early years. Everyone who knows him would acknowledge that he has now made up for lost time. In fact, he is most comfortable these days behind a microphone, facing an audience. Christopher and his mother, Linda Monahan, live in Englewood, where he collected the majority of signatures in support of his campaign. One of his first solo travel experiences was the train trip to Trenton to deliver his petitions to the State House, which made him eligible to have his name placed on the ballot. Christopher says that he wanted to become involved in politics so he could provide a voice for people with disabilities. He says, “An Assemblyperson can write bills and change laws, which can have a positive impact on so many lives.”

Linda, who began a group for parents of youngsters with autism in the 1980’s, describes herself as a person with a great deal of drive and sensitivity. She and Christopher agree that she is both Mom and Dad to her son. She speaks emotionally of Christopher coming home when he was 16, after being bullied by other teenagers, and being able to give his mother a hug for the first time. Most recently, an Englewood poll worker heard Linda’s sobs of joy when she saw her son’s name on the voting machine ballot, and wanted to be sure that she was okay.

Christopher says that he has received acceptance and support from numerous sources. He has been an active member of the Bergen County Chorus, an employee of Starbucks, and a volunteer for non-profit groups. He received a commendation from then Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg for his contributions to the community. He speaks of the growth he has experienced through his involvement with hip’s programs. An active member of On The Move for many years, he enjoyed its self-defense workshops, picnics, ball games, and fishing. He frequently acts as master of ceremonies at hip’s holiday parties, dinner dances, and picnics. At the dessert reception in his honor, he said, “hip is like a second family to me, and I feel that I am loved here.”

According to successful incumbent Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, who faced Christopher in the primary,“This is a wonderful country! Barack Obama is in the White House, and Christopher Gagliardi ran for the Assembly.” In the words inscribed on his celebratory cake, Christopher, “YOU ARE ALWAYS A WINNER TO US!”

– EILEEN GOFF, Executive Director
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  Advocacy Organizations Issue Calls for Action
 Advocacy Organizations Issue Calls to Action From NJ Citizen Action

Recently, both the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions) Committee and House Democrats drafted health care reform legislation that includes provisions the majority of us care about, including a strong public health insurance option and real affordability. But in order for these provisions to remain in the bill, we must channel grassroots support for comprehensive reform that guarantees access to quality, affordable health care for all, with the inclusion of a strong national public health insurance option.

Don’t let insurance companies have the final say!

Call (1) Senator Menendez, (2) Senator Lautenberg and (3) your Representative in the House. Urge them to support the legislation from the Senate HELP Committee/House Leadership that provides:

  • Coverage we can afford

  • Comprehensive benefits we can count on

  • Choice of a private or public

  • health insurance plan

  • Equal access to quality care

We want reform now! The public urgently wants reform and expects Congress to fix the health care mess by the end of the year.

From United Spinal Association:

How important is health care reform to you? As necessary as having access to adequate and affordable health care coverage when and where you need it? As important as receiving the health care support and services that will allow you or a loved one to remain at home and in your community?

United Spinal Association believes that national health care reform is important to all Americans with disabilities and chronic conditions. We believe that the present system of rationed health care has failed Americans. We believe that all Americans should have the option of living and aging in their own homes and communities, and we know with certainty that together we can make these things happen. Now more than ever, as Congress is debating health care reform, you are needed. Call your Senators and Representative and urge them to enact health care reform now.

Visit hip’s website: www.hipcil.org and click on Important Links for contact information for members of Congress, or call the following number toll free to be connected to the Congressional

switchboard: 1-877-264-4226. (This number may be temporary.)
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  Keeping the Success in the Bergen YES! Program
 The Bergen YES! program’s Open House on June 9th was a huge success! Forty high school students and parents attended to obtain information on how “Youth Envisioning Success” and hip can help them with the transition process from high school to adult life. Invitations were sent to schools throughout the Bergen County YES! network and fliers were widely posted.

Executive Director Eileen Goff welcomed everyone to hip, which was transformed for the event in order to accommodate the large turnout. Sarah Derico, Independent Living transition coordinator, described YES! program goals and explained how she can provide assistance with the transition process. Nancy Hodgins, hip advocate, explained students’ rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and different ways to stay involved with the legislative process to ensure those rights.

Alicia Freda, care manager, described how the Support for Independent Living (SIL) program can assist students when they reach 18 years of age, and the recently added Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)fund. Paula Walsh, program director, spoke about the Modification Access Project (MAP) and the Special Needs Assistance Program (SNAP), and described briefly how the onset of her own disability when she was a high school student impacted her life.

A light supper provided the setting for parents and students to ask questions, to talk to hip staff individually, and for parents to network. Everyone left with information packets for themselves and for friends who were unable to attend but who would benefit from the services available at hip. Many parents took the opportunity at the end of the evening to tell how much they had gained from the program. Phone calls and e-mail requests for information spilled over into the following days.

For more information about the YES! program, contact Sarah at Bergen hip.

– Sarah Derico, Independent Living Transition Coordinator
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  Congratulations to the Recent Graduates!
 hip sends special congratulations to the graduates of the Bergen County Special Services School District’s Springboard Program. Best wishes for success in all your future endeavors!
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  Students say YES! to Summer Program
 The Youth Envisioning Success (YES!) summer program is ready for another season of fun and learning. Students attending this year’s program will receive vocational skills training and information to help them prepare for life after high school. Participants will also be able to practice their newly acquired career skills when they visit a job site and have their questions answered by human resources personnel. This year’s program has expanded and will be reaching two different student populations: students who are deaf at Hudson County School of Technology, and students with varying disabilities at A. Harry Moore School. This is an indication of how the YES! program continues to grow and provide services to a diverse student population. It is going to be another busy and exciting summer at hip! Check back in the fall for more information on the YES! program. If you have any questions or know a student or school that may benefit from the YES! Program, please contact Marian Padilla at Hudson hip.
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  Hudson hip Holds Summer Soiree
 Celebrating summer, Hudson hip consumers, advisory board members, staff and friends gathered at the community center in Lincoln Park in Jersey City on July 16th. Everyone enjoyed delicious picnic food and drinks as they chatted with old friends and made new ones. A d.j. spun tunes from the past and present, bringing everyone out onto the dance floor to show off their favorite moves. The summer soiree is always extremely popular and filled with energy and excitement. This year’s event certainly demonstrated the expected the customary enthusiasm and camaraderie.
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  Dare to Dream
 The New Jersey Department of Education sponsored five “Dare to Dream” student leadership conferences throughout the state during the spring season. The Hudson County conference took place on May 12th at Concordia Learning Center at St. Joseph’s School for the Blind in Jersey City. The conference highlighted the importance of student self-advocacy and leadership. More than 250 students from Hudson County and neighboring counties attended. Students participated in workshops on topics such as “Knowing Your Rights and Responsibilities in Post-secondary Education.” In addition, students received valuable information from hip and other agencies about services available once they finish high school. Students and their families were able to have their questions about the transition process answered. Participants were also encouraged to bring information back to their schools and share their knowledge with their peers.

– Marian Padilla, Independent Living Transition Coordinator
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  hip Thanks our Supporters...
 Many Thanks to Recent Generous Supporters of hip:

Diane and Michael Albarella

Maureen and Tim Sullivan

John Koch

Sandra P. Rose

Woman’s Club of Hasbrouck Heights

Mutual of America

John Troccoli, Jr., UFCW Local 1245

NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Fund for the NJ Blind


... and the Sponsors of our Italian Fiesta

Nancy Carr

John DeWitt

Anna Navatta

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  We Welcome the Following New and Renewing Members
 We Welcome the Following New and Renewing Members of hip:

Brandon Adler

Pete Ambrose

Bernice Baron

Annie Been

Sylvia & Edward Bernett

Rosalind Brown

Daniel Calabrese

Philip J. Chirafisi

Sonia Cordova

Regina Dzamba

Laurie Galvin

Melissa Gates

Lucy Giannone

Louis Intorre

Hanneh Kalyoussef

Carmela Link

Margaret J. Mahoney

Kelley Martin

Fran McLean

Anne McMahon

Helen Nonas

Chris Paraskevaros

Raymond Payton

Dr. Sandra R. Pinkerton

Noel Prussack

Mrs. Rosalind Riley

Mr. Hazel Riley

Paul & Jean St. Germain

Jeffrey St. Germain

Samy Suqi


Corporate Members

Telecompioneers Salem PAC

H.G. McCully Upstate #2


Life member *
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  “Italian Fiesta” a Huge Success
 They could have danced all night at hip’s May 9th Italian Fiesta, a lively party that drew 135 happy hippies to the Fort Lee Recreation Center for our annual spring dinner dance and fund-raiser. In addition to a delicious Italian dinner and Gary Morton’s usual spectacular performance as our DJ, lucky winners took home an array of elegant prizes. Over $8,500 enriched hip’s coffers, increasing our opportunities to serve more and more people with disabilities. Readers – Look forward to next year’s gala on May 1st, 2010, celebrating Cinco de Mayo!!
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  AVL Project Draws 150 to Conference on Resiliency
 AVL Project Draws 150 to Conference on Resiliency in the Face of Crisis

A dynamic daylong conference for 150 members and guests of hip’s Adjustment to Vision Loss Project (AVL) took place on Friday, June 5th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Clark, NJ. The event, titled Resiliency in the Face of Crisis,” provided attendees with an opportunity to enhance and expand their ability to deal with, and bounce back from various crises. Experts in the field of traumatic stress and disasters were the presenters. The hotel’s central location was ideal, since AVL serves 14 counties in northern and central New Jersey.

The morning’s activities kicked off with breakfast and welcoming remarks from Susan Vanino, AVL peer support coordinator, and Nancy Hodgins, AVL project administrator. Two keynote speakers, Alex Kehayan, Ed.D, practicing clinical psychologist, and Joseph C. Napoli, M.D., specialist in disaster psychiatry, held their audience spellbound, providing both an understanding and a set of concrete strategies to best handle “what life might throw their way,” from individual traumas to terrorism. They are co-authors of a handbook now enjoying wide popularity, Resiliency in the Face of Disaster and Terrorism: 10 Things to Do to Survive.

Vito J. DeSantis, executive director of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and a co-sponsor of the conference, updated the group on agency affairs over lunch, and hip’s executive director, Eileen Goff, also addressed the participants. In two afternoon breakout sessions, AVL mental health consultants, Rev. James Warnke, LCSW, and Dr. Cathy Deats, LCSW, paired up with the morning keynoters to conduct animated workshops where participants from the audience were taught how to prepare themselves to be less vulnerable during an emergency. The smooth running of the conference was largely due to volunteers from the Tzu Chi Foundation, along with hip staff, and several individual volunteers. A drawing for several fully equipped emergency backpacks was a popular addition to the proceedings, but as the day’s program concluded, the theme of emergency preparedness was carried out with the award of an emergency medical kit to each attendee. In addition to the CBVI, the conference was supported by the Fund for the New Jersey Blind.
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  Special Thanks to New Friends. . .
 Members of the Tzu Chi Foundation, a worldwide Buddhist service organization, gave great help at the recent Adjustment to Vision Loss Conference, as well as at Bergen hip’s June 16th picnic. According to their stated goals, “Tzu Chi volunteers in the U.S. are actively involved in their local communities, including environmental protection work such as recycling, street sweeping, adopting parks, and beautifying cities. Working with local residents, they engage and motivate others and put in motion a cycle of love and good deeds. Tzu Chi volunteers are carrying out Buddha’s teachings of great compassion...”
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  Bergen Picnic Beats the Odds
 When Bergen hippies decide to go picnicking, a little threat of rain doesn’t stand in the way! On June 16th, no less than 217 picnickers made merry at the Englewood Boat Basin. A bit chilly? Sure, but that made the hot dogs, hamburgers, and Peter Valavanis’s famous French fries all the more tasty. And it made the lively music of Bill Jones’s Little River Jam Band all the more fun. The highlight of Bergen hip’s summer season, the annual picnic went off as scheduled – the rain stayed away, and the evening was declared a smashing success.
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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 (Bergen).

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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  First Nifty Fifty Raises “Big Bucks” for hip
 First Nifty Fifty Raises “Big Bucks” for hip and Three Lucky Winners

The first foray by our organization into a major 50-50 raffle was highly successful. The drawing took place on May 9th at the “Italian Fiesta” dinner dance after a lively sales effort in late winter and early spring. A total of 150 tickets were sold. The winners were John Koch, a longtime hip supporter, who took home $2,100; Jerilyn Higgins, a LEAD coordinator, who won $1,050; and Natalie Navatta, mother of our Board first vice president, Anna Navatta, who won $600. hip received $3,750. Congratulations to everyone!
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