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In Loving Memory Eileen Goff

Eileen Goff

In Loving Memory

By now many of you have heard that hip’s beloved founder and former President/CEO Eileen Goff passed away on August 3, 2019. The opening paragraph of her obituary stated that she was a woman of remarkable warmth, generosity, dignity and accomplishment. The funeral service was a wonderful tribute to her with the chapel filled with family, friends and local dignitaries all recounting how Eileen touched their lives in so many positive ways.

I first met Eileen when I was working as a Rehabilitation Counselor and we went for a visit to see this new program called Independent Living run out of Englewood. I was not only happy to see this new service starting in the community but I was totally impressed by this dynamic woman who was filled with ideas on how to reach a forgotten segment of society; people with disabilities.

Over the years we spent time together at many statewide events, seminars and meetings and she was always the person you’d want to sit with because she asked the best and most challenging questions. She also had great stories about her travels and escapades on the slopes and hiking trails.

Though she had been retired from hip for the past two years she kept in touch with the Board and staff members and shared several celebrations of her achievements like the Russ Berrie, Michael Lione and Celia Weissman awards in addition to being named a hip All-Star.

In our upcoming newsletter we will feature a tribute section so if you have a special recollection of Eileen please email it to me at bfitzgibbons@hipcil.org  Memorial contributions can be made to hip for the Eileen Goff Legacy Fund in care of Trish Carney.

Brian Fitzgibbons, MPA, CRC                                                                                                                                  


Letter – May, 2019

Letter – May, 2019


The Memorial Day Weekend with its many parades and events honoring our nation’s heroes marks the official beginning of our summer season.  At hip we have several traditions that mark our summer and we want to make sure that you’re aware of them.

The 66 days of Summer Raffle tickets are being distributed and the drawings will begin on Monday July 1st at Noon.  That means that there is still time to order your tickets so you don’t miss the opportunity to win all summer long. This year we’ve changed the dates of the contest to start on July 1st and end on September 30th. We will post pictures of each drawing and the results on each Tuesday.

The Annual hip Picnic will be held on Tuesday June 18th at the Englewood Boat Basin in Englewood Cliffs. This is a great event that brings us all together for an evening of fun, food and friendship; not to mention that entertainment provided by the River Jam Band featuring Bill Jones and Company.

This summer will also mark the kick-off for our plans to celebrate hip’s 40th Anniversary in 2020. We will be having a gala celebration on May 1, 2020 at the Double Tree Hotel in Fort Lee.

At hip the summer also means that our Bergen Modification Access Project (MAP) is in full swing. The good weather is a perfect time to complete those outside projects. In Hudson, The Special Assistance for Independent Living (SAIL) program makes similar accommodations for those who need them.  Please consult the latest newsletter for a full list of all the programs that we provide.

Remember we’re open all summer and ready to answer your questions and direct you to the resources that you need. We’re always happy to hear from you.



Letter – October, 2018

Letter – October, 2018


It’s that time of the year when we can never predict the weather. We can start the day reaching for a jacket and end it by looking for the nearest air conditioner. And, I have never seen a calendar fill up more quickly with meetings and events to commemorate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the celebrations recognizing the achievements in the disability movement of individuals from both Bergen and Hudson counties and the hip Consumer Meeting on October 18.

With all of this happening I was delighted to be notified that hip has been awarded a Community Development Block Grant to fund our “Safe and Secure Solutions” project.

When money is tight for individuals with disabilities and seniors struggling to remain in their homes an unanticipated repair is often delayed or ignored. It seems that when door locks break or malfunction they go unrepaired. These funds will support:

  • A one-time visit by a locksmith to make the necessary repair;
  • The provision of a new lock (to be installed by the participant or a member of the BC Volunteer Chore Service); or,
  • The purchase of a lockbox to enable someone living alone to have a trusted friend or neighbor have secure access to the house keys to check on them.

We are scheduled to meet with the staff of CDBG to finalize the process and begin to promote it through our Care Managers.

Keep watching your mail for the Fall Edition of hip News. It should arrive later this month.



Letter – July, 2018

Letter – July, 2018


Despite the fact that June broke records for hot weather, it was a busy month for hip. We held our Annual Picnic, participated in the Aurora 5K Walk and the Bassmasters  30th Anniversary event, and had some fun with pottery as part of the Women’s Group. We celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Bergen County Division of Disability Services, participated in the “Stigma Free” event in Fort Lee, and joined our colleagues from the other Centers for Independent Living for a Legislative Day in Trenton.

Not all of the activities at hip offer us high-profile interactions with the community, which is made evident by our one-on-one work with the consumers through our Care Management Programs. I’ve just had the opportunity to meet with our Care Management team to review their cases, and I have been impressed by their professionalism and compassion for residents of Bergen County facing a multitude of challenges and barriers.

Funded by the Bergen County Department of Human Services, the Care Managers can provide assessment, direct services, referrals to community-based programs, and coordination in the following areas:

  • Linkage to:
    • Home Care
    • Respite Care
    • Caregiver Support
  • Assistance in applying for:
    • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • Medicare
    • Medicaid
    • Managed Long-term Support Services (MLTSS)
  • Assistance with applications for:
    • Food Stamps
    • Pharmaceutical Assistance for the Aged and Disabled (PAAD)
    • Rental Assistance
    • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
    • Meals on Wheels
    • Affordable Housing
    • Durable Medical Equipment
    • Home Modifications

hip is able to provide an amazing array of services to strengthen the ability for individuals and families to thrive in their communities.

Call us for more information.



Letter – May, 2018

Letter – May, 2018

In the mid-90s I was doing some work at the National Rehabilitation Association offices in Alexandria, VA, and it was my first time helping to develop a website. In those days I didn’t know dot org from dot com but I gradually saw the value in how information could be shared on the World Wide Web (WWW). So we got the domain address we wanted, put all the links and logos in place and waited for the magic to happen and it didn’t.  At that time our membership wasn’t ready to receive information in the electronic format and relied heavily on the direct contact from local and regional representatives.

The key to a good website is to provide accurate, pertinent and timely information in an interactive format that is accessible and user friendly.  I believe that we have finally achieved that goal so we’re ready to launch our new website and we are anxious to hear what you think about the new design and features.

We need to thank Pedro Martin for all of his hard work. Pedro was referred to us from the One-Stop and he is now employed at hip through The Easter Seals Community Service Employment Program (ESCSEP). His skill level and ability to redesign our system was an invaluable contribution to this initiative. We also  thank hip’s Maria Valentin for her work investigating domain names, hosts and browsers and tracking down all of the bits and pieces necessary to make our website a success.

So, welcome to our new website. We know that you’re out there and look forward to receiving the necessary feedback to make this an interactive tool.



Letter – March, 2018

Letter – March, 2018

Over the course of my career, I have conducted public forums, focus groups and town meetings for government agencies and professional associations. These events have always proven to be thought-provoking and stimulating as they advance the democratic process by giving the participants their chance to express their views. Those of us who run programs that provide services to groups serving people with disabilities rely on consumer input to best respond to the needs of the community.

The three topics that always emerge as priorities are Housing, Employment and Transportation, as a matter of fact, we often open the conversation with this trio just to get the crowd engaged. I’ve recently been asked to co-chair the Disabilities Issues Committee of the Bergen County Workforce Development Board and while the three familiar topics emerged there was a groundswell of support for the committee to focus on transportation alone. Everyone at the table representing at least 16 community programs raised some provocative questions, expressed some dynamic suggestions and agreed to develop strategies around the effective use of available public accessible transportation in Bergen County for work, play, worship and medical appointments.

In the short time that the group spent brainstorming we each learned something new about a service or program which helped form our goal to raise the awareness of the community through some sort of seminar. Frankly, if we as service providers don’t know the resources then how can we expect our consumers to use them?

As many of you know the Independent Living movement is turning the “Big Four O” this year. It was the 1978 amendments to the Rehab Act of 1973 that responded to the advocacy efforts started by college students with disabilities who wanted equal access to education on their college campuses and guess what else…Housing, Employment and Transportation! Their advocacy grew beyond academic life to include many people interested in breaking down physical and attitudinal barriers under the slogan; “Nothing about us without us” and the world began to change and The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990.

I’m taking this trip down memory lane to illustrate that we cannot rest on past achievements:

  • The ADA has recently been under fire in the House where modifications to weaken it were proposed and passed. We need to watch that the Senate does not do anything that will let this law be watered down in the name of making a profit.
  • Despite some corporate culture shifts Diversity programs still do not always include individuals with disabilities.
  • We’re still listing Housing, Employment and Transportation as priority areas of need for people with disabilities.

At hip we are continuing to represent the empowerment of individuals with disabilities through outreach, education and advocacy. Let us know how we can help you.


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