hipnews Summer 2012 Edition
 
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“Out of This World” Welcomes Special Guests
A Busy Summer at MTS
NJ Adopts “Employment First” Policy Initiative
Bouquets to Board Members
Pro and Cons of Obamacare
Biggest Tax Increase in History?
Make a Date with Adam Krass!
New TV Video Description Rules Effective July 1
A Warm Welcome
Join Us for Lunch!
Hudson Welcomes New Staff Member
We Thank . . .
MAP, SNAP, and SAIL Enhance Independent Living
Member Update
Memories of Helen
And the Winners Are . . . !!!
AVL Creates a Recipe for Success
1st Annual National Transition Conference
Bergen YES! Co-Hosts Transition Workshop
SAVE THE DATE!
Hudson Summer Soirée A Great Success
Hudson Youth Envisioning Success (YES!)
Bergen hip Picnic – “A Beautiful Summer Evening”
LEAD Completes Another Successful Year
A Young Man with a Bright Future
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  “Out of This World” Welcomes Special Guests
  
 “Out of This World,” hip’s 2012 dinner dance gala, brought some unexpected but very welcome guests to share the evening with us on May 12th – ALIENS! No one is sure whether they emerged unnoticed from the ingeniously designed space-ship centerpieces, or simply materialized, as we’ve heard aliens are wont to do. We may never know. But without a doubt, the Fort Lee Recreation Center was the scene of one of hip’s most unusual, as well as most colorful, annual spring parties. Billed as “an Evening Beyond the Stars,” the green, blue, and silver color scheme highlighted the celestial theme.
DJ Gary Morton, as always, entered fully into the spirit of the evening, joining attendees on the lively dance floor as well as creating an upbeat mood that had everyone smiling, swinging, and swaying to the music. Earth food par excellence was supplied by Fifth Avenue Caterers and served by a wonderful group of volunteers.
The evening was dedicated to the memory of our devoted and much-loved former hip Board President, Helen Marshall, whose genius for creating wonderful hip parties is legendary. But Helen would have been first to applaud this year’s decorations chairperson, Trish Carney, who not only conceived, but actually created the whole decor. Thank you, Trish!
OUR THANKS ARE “OUT OF THIS WORLD”
So many people contributed to the social and financial success of our dinner dance that we could not possibly list them all here, but some need special mention:
• Elsie O’Neill for donating her 50/50 winnings to Laura’s Legacy;
• Maureen McMahon and Tim Sullivan, Sandra P. Rose, and Tony Polcari, Peter Polcari and Mike Maurice of Polcari & Co., CPA, for very generous financial support;
• Betty A. Fetzer, hip Board 2nd vice chair, for her gift of beautiful inscribed blue pens to everyone at the dinner dance, commemorating hip’s “32 years and growing.”
 
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  A Busy Summer at MTS
  
 By Jayne Gugenheim, MTS Project Coordinator

Multimedia Transcription Service staff have been working hard to keep up with the high demand for braille textbooks for the upcoming school year. In addition to new textbooks that are being transcribed this summer, we also have orders for a large number of reprints of previously transcribed books. A few popular reprints include a series of National Geographic readers, third-grade level math, and high-school level Algebra 2.
We’re looking forward to adding more books to our collection and continuing to distribute textbooks to school districts throughout the country. Most recently Oregon joined our list of state customers. Only a handful more to go to reach all 50!
All of us at MTS truly enjoy the work we do here. Knowing that braille readers can walk into their classrooms on the first day of school with the textbooks they need to keep a level playing field with their classmates puts a smile on all our faces.
 
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  NJ Adopts “Employment First” Policy Initiative
  
 New Jersey Adopts “Employment First” Policy Initiative

Trenton, NJ – Furthering a commitment to expand life opportunities and job prospects for New Jerseyans with disabilities, Governor Chris Christie has announced that New Jersey will become the 14th state to adopt an Employment First initiative. The initiative embraces a philosophy – implemented through policies, programs and services – to proactively promote competitive employment in the general workforce for people with any type of disability.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to be productive, earn a living, and feel a sense of personal fulfillment from employment,” said Governor Christie. “By adopting an Employment First policy, this Administration is firmly committed to creating opportunities for individuals with disabilities. That’s why we’re working cooperatively with the private sector to ensure that people with disabilities are a seamless part of New Jersey’s workforce, with the independence and sense of community that comes from relationships developed inside and outside of the workplace.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of March 2012, only 20.1% of people with disabilities participated in the labor force as compared to 69.3% of their peers without disabilities. In addition, the nationwide unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 15.2% compared to an 8.1% unemployment rate for people without disabilities.
As a result of the Administration adopting Employment First, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) will coordinate to deliver services that advance the goals of this initiative. That means assessing policies to ensure that the infrastructure of education, social services, transportation and workforce expectations support getting individuals with disabilities to work. It will also require all of state government to examine their respective policies and regulations to
prevent barriers to employment for individuals with disabilities.
DHS supports numerous education and employment programs in its Divisions of Developmental Disabilities, Disability Services, and Mental Health and Addiction Services as well as within its Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
CREATING EXPECTATIONS FOR THE FUTURE
“Employment First is about creating an expectation of individuals with disabilities, which ultimately empowers them with choices for their future,” said Department of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “Employment reduces poverty, shrinks enrollment in entitlement programs, eases demand on state and community-based social service agencies and provides workers with a sense of achievement.”
The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services within LWD solicits private non-profit and for-profit companies to facilitate work training, employment counseling, educational advancement, assistive technologies and job placement services. Annually, 27,000 people with disabilities are served through LWD’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services through its 34 One-Stop Career Centers.
“This month, our Department’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services is celebrating its 93rd year of preparing people with disabilities for work through training and services that level the playing field. Each year my Department assists an average of 27,000 people with disabilities to achieve self-sufficiency, and we place about 4,000 annually into jobs. I’ve visited the employers, who range from national corporations to Ma-and-Pa shops, and witnessed first-hand the productivity these talented individuals bring to our New Jersey businesses,” said Commissioner Harold J. Wirths.
Also, the Department of Education (DOE) utilizes the Vocational Profile as a framework that provides needed information for the customization of community employment opportunities, which enables students with disabilities to be successful.
Governor Christie is committed to creating employment opportunities for New Jerseyans with disabilities by: protecting funding for Vocational Rehabilitation Services at the enhanced level provided in the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget, so that providers will have the resources necessary to offer enhanced work activities for a second year; continuing NJ WorkAbility, a New Jersey Medicaid Buy-In Program which offers full health coverage to people with disabilities who are working, and whose earnings would otherwise make them ineligible for Medicaid. Currently, there are more than 9,200 participants in NJ WorkAbility; contracting with supportive employment agencies through a partnership of the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Approximately 900 individuals have obtained competitive employment through this process since January 2010; continuing to provide job training and placement and assistive technology through the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s vocational rehabilitation program to over 2,500 clients since January 2010.
In addition, building upon a public/private initiative called DiscoverAbility, the Departments of Human Services and Labor and Workforce Development, together with hundreds of businesses statewide, will intensify efforts to collaboratively provide the services and training necessary for individuals with disabilities to prepare for, find, and retain employment.
 
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  Bouquets to Board Members
  
 . . . To Hyacinthe Nkurunziza and his wife Janis, on the birth of Hans (May 21), joining brother Yanni and weighing in at 8 lbs, 11 oz.
. . . To Paul Aronsohn, unanimously selected by his council colleagues to serve as mayor of Ridgewood for the next two years at a council swearing-in ceremony on July 1st. Paul was the leading vote-getter in the non-partisan village election in April.
 
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  Pro and Cons of Obamacare
  
 Pro and Cons of Obamacare, The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA)

To assist readers of hipNews who have questions about the implications of the Affordable Care Act, we are glad to provide a checklist of the advantages and disadvantages of the Act. The Pros and Cons listed here come from a variety of sources, including the Congressional Budget Office.

By Kimberly Amadeo, About.com Guide (Part of the NY Times Company)

Question: What Is Obamacare?
Answer: Obamacare is a name used by critics of President Obama’s efforts to reform health care. It’s a common term used to describe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Those who oppose the Act are concerned that it gives the Federal government too much control over personal health care decisions and benefits, forcing a “complex one-size-fits-all health system” onto the states. Those who are in favor of the Act want lower health care costs overall by making it affordable for more people.

OBAMACARE PROS

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office lists the advantages of Obamacare:
1. The Act was designed to reduce overall health care costs by making services available to the 32 million who currently can’t get insurance. They often use a hospital emergency room as their primary care physician, increasing costs for everyone. This starts in 2014.
2. For people who can’t afford health insurance, the Federal government will pay the states to add them to Medicaid. The income requirement is expanded up to 133% of the Federal poverty level – roughly $29,000 for a family of four.
3. Those who don’t qualify for the expanded Medicaid will receive tax credits if their income is below 400% of the poverty level ($88,000 for a family of four). States will be required to set up insurance exchanges to make it easier to shop for private health insurance coverage.
4. Insurance companies cannot deny children coverage for pre-existing conditions. This benefit applies to everyone in 2014. Insurance companies can no longer drop anyone from coverage once they get sick. If a company denies someone coverage, that person can go to an external appeals process.
5. Parents can put their children up to age 26 on their health insurance plans. This will bring more profit for health insurance companies, since they will receive more premiums without higher costs for these healthier individuals. As of 2012, more than three million previously uninsured young people were added. (Source: Department of Health and Human Services)
6. The Medicare “donut hole” gap in coverage will be eliminated by 2020.
7. People with existing health insurance will keep it. Businesses prefer to offer a tax-free benefit like health insurance to attract good workers. That won’t change under Obamacare.
8. Obamacare does not apply to businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Larger businesses are required to offer health insurance, but receive tax credits to help employees pay premiums. In 2014, the tax credit increases to 50%.
9. The Act will lower the budget deficit by $143 billion over the next 10 years by raising some taxes and shifting more cost burdens. (Source: CBO CBO Report on Health Care Reform and the Budget; Wall Street Journal, What Health Insurance Ruling Means, June 28, 2012; NPR, Medicaid Expansion, June 27, 2012)

OBAMACARE CONS

The CBO (and other non-partisan groups, as cited below) also list some disadvantages of the Act.
1. Increased coverage may actually raise health care costs. That’s because many people will receive preventive care and testing who, fortunately, find out they don’t have that critical illness. However, the CBO found that additional testing, such as cancer screening and cholesterol tests, will lead to higher net medical spending. (Source: CBO,2009 Study on Preventative Health Care, August 7, 2009)
2. Those who don’t purchase insurance, and don’t qualify for Medicaid or subsidies, will be assessed a penalty of $95 (or 1% of income, whichever is higher) in 2014. It increases to $325 (or 2% of income) in 2015, and $695 (or 2.5% of income) in 2016.
3. About 4 million people, or 1.2% of the population, will wind up paying the penalty rather than purchase health insurance. The CBO estimates this will total $54 billion in penalties. (Source: Washington Post Factchecker, Tax Breaks vs Tax Hikes, July 6, 2012)
4. Taxes will be raised on one million individuals with annual incomes in excess of $200,000 and four million couples filing jointly with incomes in excess of $250,000. They would pay 3.8% Medicare taxes on dividends, capital gains, rent and royalties and 2.35% (up from 1.45%) Medicare taxes on income.
5. Pharmaceutical companies will pay
an extra $84.8 billion in fees over the next ten years to pay for closing the “donut hole” in Medicare Part D. This could raise drug costs if they pass this onto consumers.
6. In 2018, insurance companies will be assessed a 40% excise tax on “Cadillac” health plans. These are plans with annual premiums exceeding $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for families. Many of these plans are for people in high-risk pools, such as older workers or union workers in high-risk jobs. (Source: Kaiser, Cadillac Tax Explained, March 18, 2010)
7. Medical-device manufacturers and importers will pay a 2.3% excise tax. Indoor tanning services already pay a 10% excise tax. This could discourage those businesses from hiring new employees.
8. Between 3-5 million people could lose their company-sponsored health care plans. Many businesses will find it more cost-effective to pay the penalty and let their employees purchase their own insurance plans on the exchanges. Other small businesses might find they can get a better plan through the state-run exchanges. (Source: CBO, The Effects of the Affordable Care Act on Employment-Based Health Insurance, March 15, 2012)
9. There are 30.1 million people who currently buy their own private health insurance. Many of them may need to get another plan if their insurance doesn’t meet the minimum standards – which haven’t yet been established. (Source: Factcheck.org, The Keep Your Plan Promise, June 28, 2012)
10. In 2014,those under 65 can only deduct medical expenses if they exceed 10% of income.

IS OBAMACARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL?

On June 28, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Federal government does not have the Constitutional right to mandate that people must buy health insurance from a private company. However, it does have the right to tax those who don’t. Therefore, it upheld the Act.
 
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  Biggest Tax Increase in History?
  
 (From FactCheck.org. Posted on July 10, 2012)

Q: Is the new health care law “the biggest tax increase in history”?
A: In raw dollars, perhaps. But several tax increases just since 1968 were larger as percentages of the economy, or in inflation-adjusted dollars.
FULL QUESTION: Will “Obamacare” be the largest tax hike in US history?
FULL ANSWER: Several readers have asked us about this since Rush Limbaugh made a hugely exaggerated claim that the new health care law is “the biggest tax increase in the history of the world.” We’re not sure Limbaugh meant his statement to be taken seriously; He offered no figures or citations to back up what he said. But other critics of the law have made similar claims. The increase is certainly large. So let’s take a look at how the taxes and fees that finance “Obamacare” stack up against earlier increases.

A BIG INCREASE
There’s no question that the package of taxes and other revenue-raisers that the law contains constitute a large increase. The most recent estimate from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation puts the total for more than a dozen different tax increases and other “revenue-related
provisions” at $675 billion between now and 2022.
And that’s not counting the effect of penalty payments by individuals who refuse to take out health insurance (estimated by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to be $54 billion over the same period. The JCT tax estimate also doesn’t count penalties paid by large employers (those with 50 employees or more). CBO estimates they will pay $113 billion during the period, rather than provide insurance coverage for their workers.
LARGEST IN HISTORY?
But is this increase the largest in American history? Perhaps – as measured by the rather useless yardstick of raw dollars, with no adjustment for inflation. We rely here on recently updated tables from U.S. Treasury Department tax analyst Jerry Tempalski, whose 2006 paper on “Revenue Effects of Major Tax Bills” is the standard reference for making such comparisons.
Tempalski (a career employee who has worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations) uses unpublished Treasury Department estimates, which are by no means low-ball figures. Treasury’s figures for the health care law are actually higher than those of either JCT or CBO for the key year 2014, when major provisions of the law take effect. We’ve used Tempalski’s figure for that year – the highest one he cites – and compared it to the highest 1-year figure given for each of the tax increases since 1968. (No earlier tax increase comes close in terms of unadjusted dollars.)
By this measure, the Affordable Care Act’s $76.8 billion in revenue increases tops the $65.9 billion for the highest single year for Bill Clinton’s 1993 deficit reduction bill, which Republicans have for years attacked as the biggest in history. But as we’ve said before, that attack is misleading, and the raw-dollar measure is a poor way to measure the size of a tax increase.
For one thing, that measure doesn’t take account of inflation. Using “constant” dollars – all adjusted to equal the value of a dollar in 2009 – the ACA drops to fourth place, and the tax increase signed in 1982 by President Reagan becomes the largest since 1968. But even this measure takes no account of a population that is steadily rising. Today’s population is 82 million higher than it was at the time of Reagan’s tax increase, and 56 million higher than it was when Clinton signed the 1993 increase. So the average tax increases in those years was accordingly higher on a per-person basis than the ACA.
Incomes are also up since those times – even adjusting for inflation, and despite declines since the economic crisis of 2008. So the effect on the average person’s paycheck would be reduced even further, compared to earlier increases.
THE BEST YARDSTICK
So what is the best yardstick for measuring changes in taxation? “The single best measure for most purposes is probably the revenue effect as a percentage of GDP, because it eliminates the effects of inflation, real economic growth, and the size of total federal receipts,” Tempalski wrote in 2006. We concur, as do most tax experts we know of. And by that measure, the revenue increases in the ACA are smaller than most of the increases enacted since 1968 – and less than one-quarter the size of the largest.
 
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  Make a Date with Adam Krass!
  
 Adam Krass, assistive technology consultant, comes to hip’s Bergen office, usually on the last Monday of each month, to give one-on-one assistance to people with disabilities. If you want to know more about today’s gizmos, gadgets, computer applications, and other technology that might enhance your life at home, at work, and everywhere else, Adam’s your man!
Upcoming dates? July 30, August 13, and September 24th, from 9 a.m. to 12 Noon. Call Paula Walsh, Ext 19, or email to pwalsh.ber@hipcil.org for an appointment.
 
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  New TV Video Description Rules Effective July 1
  
 New video description rules that took effect on July 1st make television programming more accessible to individuals with vision loss. Video description is a voice-narrated description of what is happening during a television program. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program’s dialogue. The rules require local TV station affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC located in the top 25 TV markets to provide at least a few hours of video-described programs each week. For more information, download the Video Description Guide in PDF format.
Visit Disability.gov for moreinformation about how assistive and accessible technologies promote the employment and independence of people with disabilities.
 
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  A Warm Welcome
  
 Trisha Ebel joined the hip staff in June as the Bergen hip office’s Independent Living Assistant. As the chair of the Hudson hip Advisory Board, Trisha and her guide dog Harlow are not new members of the hip family. She attended Taylor Business Institute and began her career in the travel industry, specializing in tourism. She most recently was coordinator of the computer training program for clients with vision loss at DeWitt & Associates and worked in sales there as well. Trisha’s bubbly personality makes her a delightful addition to the Bergen hip office.
A life-long resident of Secaucus, Trisha leads a busy life with her husband Dave and teen-age children, Andrew and Aimee. In her free time, she enjoys bike riding, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. She also is very active in fundraising for several charities.
 
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  Join Us for Lunch!
  
 Summer quickly slips away as temperatures begin to drop and leaves begin to turn. Green leaves that covered the trees in midsummer deepen in beauty and continue changing before they eventually fall to the ground. But the beginning of autumn isn’t an ending – autumn is the beginning and a time for celebration! Apple trees become dotted with tasty fruit that make delicious pies, pumpkins are ripe for carving, and fall gatherings are right around the corner! Come join other friends of hip for a tasty, informal, and informative luncheon!
Date: Friday, September 14th
Time: 1-3 pm
Place: Main Dish
152 Main Street, Hackensack
Price: $14 per person
(includes gratuities)
Main Dish is Access Link friendly, or you can bring a friend who drives to join us! Accessible from the front entrance. There is limited space, so please RSVP before September 4th. Call me in the Bergen office at Ext. 10. So hitch your wagon to a star and come join in the fun!
 
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  Hudson Welcomes New Staff Member
  
 Hudson hip is pleased to welcome Mariely Colin to the staff as a full-time Global Options care manager. Mariely is currently receiving training from Claudia Urdanivia, who has been working with Global Options participants since the start of the program. Claudia is leaving hip this summer to do anthropology research in her native Peru.
Mariely came to the United States from Vera Cruz, Mexico, as a child. Growing up in the multi-cultural environment of the USA opened her mind and heart to the great diversity of our population and built the foundation of her passion to help others. This passion has led her to work with under-privileged children, autistic high school students and young adults, and older adults with mental illness. She is extremely excited to be working at hip, and enthusiastic about the opportunity to utilize her professional experience at a Center for Independent living.
A graduate of Passaic County Community College, Mariely earned a BA in psychology from William Paterson University. A resident of Passaic, she enjoys traveling, reading, music, film noir, flea markets, playing the accordion, and creating friendship bracelets.
 
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  We Thank . . .
  
 The Bergenfield Lions Club for their ongoing support; Diane and Michael Albarella, whose ongoing funding provides air conditioners for senior citizens; Joanne and Frank Pollice for contributing to Laura’s Legacy; Gaynell Crismale and Michael Smith, Nifty Fifty winners, for sharing their good fortune with hip; also Susan Berkley, Donn Slonim, and Heather Broad, for generous contributions.
 
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  MAP, SNAP, and SAIL Enhance Independent Living
  
 MAP, SNAP, and SAIL Enhance Independent Living in Bergen and Hudson Counties
Three programs administered by hip, two in Bergen County and one in Hudson, are helping people with disabilities to live more independent lives.
The Modification Access Project (MAP) provides partial funding to improve access in the homes of Bergen County residents with disabilities. Renovation projects include ramps, widening of doorways, installation of roll-in showers, lifts, and automatic door openers.
The Special Needs Assistance Program (SNAP) assists with the acquisition of adaptive equipment and devices for Bergen County residents. SNAP funding can be used to purchase items and to obtain services to enhance independent living. Air conditioners, shower benches, walkers, hearing aids, automobile modifications, and wheelchair rentals are a sampling of the assistive technology SNAP covers.
SAIL PROGRAM IN HUDSON
The same services are also available to Hudson County residents through the Special Assistance for Independent Living (SAIL) program.
For more information on any of these programs, call Maria Perez in the Bergen office at Ext. 18, and Marily Gonzalez in the Hudson office.
 
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  Member Update
  
 We welcome the following new or renewing members of hip. Thanks to all for their generous support!
Odette Andryszczak • Rosalind Brown • Russell & Joan D’Angelo • Irene Frank • Barbara Hill • Elizabeth Holder • Mary Keough • George Kidney • Louise Lee • Catherine L. Reams • Joseph & Shifra Ruda • Jill Scheffler • Betsy Thomason • Delores Wolfe • Cindy Zirkin

Corporate Members:
Drive Master Co. Inc., Peter B. Ruprecht, President
Fair Housing Council of North Jersey, Lee Porter, Executive Director
 
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  Memories of Helen
  
 Memories of Helen came from her friends and hip colleagues. The following were chosen for a page dedicated to her in the program journal for “Out of This World,” which everyone received at the dinner dance:
“Helen’s bursts of laughter were uplifting and infectious. I often found myself chuckling along with her even when I didn’t know the joke.”
“I will always remember Helen’s fascination with creating balloon centerpieces for our dinner dance and how fabulous they looked when everyone arrived for the party.”
“Even though I didn’t know Helen long or well, just from our conversations about hip, I felt like I had made a lifelong friend. We’ll miss her charm, her great, warm personality, and her wonderful sense of humor.”
“Generous, kind, and always giving . . . what more could anyone ask?”
“Helen took care of so many people who needed a friend in their lonely hours; she did so quietly and without thought of any reward.”

From somewhere over the rainbow and beyond the stars, Helen’s loving, laughing spirit is with us tonight.
 
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  And the Winners Are . . . !!!
  
 We are happy to announce that there were a number of prize winners in this year’s Nifty Fifty! The drawing took place at the annual dinner dance on May 12th.

lst prize: Jane Valenti $1,638
2nd prize: Gaynell Crismale $819
3rd prize, shared by the following Hudson hippies: Michael Smith, Ivis Alvarez, Tricia Ebel, Janet Jones, and Barbara Banta $468

Congratulations to every one of the winners, and many thanks to all who participated!!
 
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  AVL Creates a Recipe for Success
  
 by Susan Vanino, AVL Program Coordinator

The Adjustment to Vision Loss Project (AVL) recognizes that a well-trained facilitator is an essential ingredient for a peer support group to run smoothly. On May 17th, AVL facilitators gathered at the East Brunswick Public Library, for a day-long training designed to strengthen and boost facilitation skills. The event stressed the importance of constructing a strong framework for groups, and gave facilitators the tools to do it.
Workshop presenters Father James Warnke, LCSW, and Dr. Cathy Deats, LCSW, loosened up the crowd with their exuberant personalities and quick wit. Mind-tickling games helped unleash creative solutions, and penetrating questions encouraged deep thinking and a lively discussion.
Thanks to Jim and Cathy, participants delved into areas they had not discussed before, or perhaps even considered. Facilitators left the training that afternoon ready to take on new challenges.
A new addition to AVL is the “AVL Monthly Communication” newsletter. Through it, facilitators are able to share timely information with their groups, enabling everyone to stay informed on matters regarding vision loss.
AVL brings together people who share the common denominator of vision loss. Members meet and talk with one another to get emotional support, exchange helpful information, and learn practical solutions to challenges they may be experiencing. If you or anyone you know is interested in finding out more about AVL and support groups, call me at Ext. 26 or email svanino.ber@hipcil.org.
 
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  1st Annual National Transition Conference
  
 National Conference Energizes Transition Coordinators

by Alanna Staton, Independent Living Transition Coordinator

I was pleased to attend the first annual National Transition Conference in Washington, D.C. May 30th–June 1st. The New Jersey Centers for Independent Living were well represented by five transition coordinators from around the state. Over 900 attendees from across the nation gathered to discuss best practices and share ideas and inspiration surrounding the theme of youth with disabilities transitioning to adult life. Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to President Obama, welcomed participants. During the three-day conference, representatives from the Department of Education and other government partners invoked a sense of energy for professionals working with youth to continue pursuing a common goal. Dr. Alexa Posny, Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, said, “We believe the new strategies and ideas presented at this conference will inspire and assist you in applying innovative practices for the benefit of youth across the country.”

SUMMER PROGRAM AT BERGEN COMMUNITY COLLEGE
The smooth transition for youth with disabilities from school to adult life is the impetus that drives the Youth Envisioning Success (YES!) program at hip. In addition to the vocational support given in high schools throughout Bergen County, YES! offers a summer program. This year, the Vocational Independence Program (VIP), at Bergen Community College’s Lyndhurst Campus from August 13th-16th, is designed to motivate students with disabilities to aim for career success. All student participants will receive pre-employment training in “soft skills” such as non-verbal communication, demeanor, workplace behavior, cover letter writing, goal setting, and interview skills. The program is free, but participants provide their own transportation. For more information, or to request an application, call Alanna Staton at the Bergen CIL, Ext.23, or email astaton.ber@hipcil.org.
 
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  Bergen YES! Co-Hosts Transition Workshop
  
 On the evening of May 8th, hip’s YES! program co-hosted a transition workshop led by Carolyn Hayer, Director of Parent and Professional Development for the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN), at Ciarco Learning Center in Hackensack. Attendees received valuable information regarding ways for students with disabilities to make a smooth transition from high school to post-secondary life. SPAN works to make sure that all New Jersey families have the resources and support they need to help their children become fully contributing members of our communities and society. Even with the heavy rains that evening, over 25 parents, educators, and students with disabilities attended the informative workshop. Those interested in receiving more information about SPAN are urged to visit their website at www.spannj.org.
 
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  SAVE THE DATE!
  
 hip’s 2012 Annual Meeting
Tuesday, November 20th
Meadowlands Environment Center
Lyndhurst
A new and exciting location
for this important event!
DETAILS IN THE FALL EDITION OF hipNEWS!
 
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  Hudson Summer Soirée A Great Success
  
 On the very hot evening of June 26th, 45 Hudson hip party-goers gathered in the air-conditioned comfort of the Gallo Community Center at Lincoln Park in Jersey City for an evening of lively conversation, sumptuous food, and lots of dancing. Everyone had a wonderful time strutting their stuff on the dance floor or singing along as our volunteer DJ, Steve Krywinski, spun tunes that ranged from big band to disco. An evening to remember!
 
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  Hudson Youth Envisioning Success (YES!)
  
 by Marian Padilla, Independent Living Transition Coordinator

The Youth Envisioning Success (YES!) Summer Enrichment program is in full swing. Last year was a huge success! This year, the tested format promises to ensure another hit. The four-week sessions will focus on developing skills in self-advocacy, independent living, and vocational exploration, with weekly field trips to make real what was learned in the classroom. The program also features trips to Newark Liberty International Airport, Applebee’s Restaurant, and Macy’s Herald Square, for “hands on” experiences. While socializing with their peers, students also learn about restaurant and retail operations including merchandise placement, marketing techniques, and customer service and interaction.
Also at Hudson hip, students can schedule an appointment to log on to the NJ CAN (Career Assistance Navigator) website, an Internet-based delivery system for current occupational, post-secondary school, and financial aid information. Students can complete an easy-to-use assessment to identify their skills. A list of occupations matching their interests, abilities, and work preferences is generated along with the education requirements, anticipated earnings, and employment outlook. Students can use this information to create a plan to help them attain their educational and career goals.
If you would like more information about the YES! program, NJCAN, or know a student or school that may benefit from hip’s programs and services, call me at Hudson hip or e-mail mpadilla.hud@hipcil.org.
 
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  Bergen hip Picnic – “A Beautiful Summer Evening”
  
 The annual Bergen hip picnic, held June 19th at the Englewood Boat Basin, was an event very much enjoyed by all. Close to 200 people welcomed the breeze coming in off the Hudson River and a perfect 76 degree temperature. hip members, families, staff, and friends couldn’t have asked for a better day.
Staff members and volunteers happily served a bountiful supply of hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, coleslaw, and all the fixings. Peter Valavanis cooked up delicious French fries and sweet potato fries. Italian ices were freshly prepared to go along with cookies provided by hip and cupcakes that a very thoughtful volunteer brought to share with the group. A customary fixture at the picnic, Little River Jam Band featuring Bill Jones and Company, played a lively mix of music that had many up and dancing. The 50/50 raffle winner was hip volunteer Michael Augustowicz. Congratulations, Michael!
“We are so thrilled that it was a beautiful day and everyone had a wonderful time. After canceling last year’s picnic due to weather, we were all eager to have a big celebration,” said CEO Eileen Goff. “So many thanks go out to the staff and volunteers for all their hard work. We’re already looking forward to next year!”
 
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  LEAD Completes Another Successful Year
  
 by CEO Eileen Goff

LEAD concluded another wonderful year for high school students with vision loss. Many will return in the fall, and be joined by peers who are just entering high school. We are proud of the 13 graduates who are moving to the next stage of their lives. Some are going on to higher education, others seeking employment, and all of them are reflecting on the experiences they had through their involvement in LEAD.
The state-wide program is hugely successful through the outstanding efforts of the regional coordinators; Joe Ruffalo, Jerilyn Higgins, Sherlock Washington, Ohmny Romero, Ryan Stevens and Holly Westefeld. LEAD participants have received instruction in assistive technology, mobility, cooking, self-defense, and so many other areas that will enhance their adult lives. Socialization and overnight trips have also been important program activities.
The June closing activity at Camp Marcella included spontaneous remarks from students, parents, and volunteers alike. One dad in attendance thanked the LEAD Program for providing skills and confidence for his daughter and himself, as she now moves out of state to attend college.
 
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  A Young Man with a Bright Future
  
 A Young Man with a Bright Future:
Jason Capati, Valedictorian

I am a June graduate of David Brearley High School in Kenilworth, New Jersey. I kept active in my community as a member of the National Honor Society, basketball team, track-and-field team, Peer Leaders, and a group that volunteered at a local soup kitchen in Elizabeth.
I was a LEAD participant for all four years of high school, and it had such a strong and positive impact on me. It gave me the opportunity to meet successful and admirable mentors (Sherlock Washington and Ohmny Romero), to network and socialize with fellow blind high school students – making high school challenges seem less troublesome, and to increase my independence through self-building meetings, such as mobility, cooking, and advocating.
I have one brother, Jeremy, who was also a member of LEAD. Participation in LEAD has given me a positive outlook on my blindness and my life as a whole. Furthermore, I will be attending Arcadia University in Glenside Pennsylvania, as a biology major. I am in the Honors Program within the accelerated Doctorate of Physical Therapy program. After college, I aspire to open a physical therapy clinic.

LEAD stands for Leadership, Education, Advocacy, and Determination, a statewide program for high school students with vision loss administered by hip. Jason is one of LEAD’s many outstanding graduates. We congratulate them all! — E.G.
 
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