201-996-9100 Bergen Office or 201-533-4407 Hudson Office
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.


Letter – October, 2017

Letter – October, 2017

A Message from the desk of the hip President:


Like many baby boomers I have decided to follow the advice outlined in the Sedlar-Miners book, “Don’t Retire…Rewire” so I  will remain in the workforce with some modifications. In my case it meant switching from public service to the non-profit world and trading my 3 hour round trip commute for a short trip from the next town.

Believe it or not I’m not new to hip.  In 1980 as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor working in the area I was one of the first visitors to the Center and encouraged the consumers with whom I worked to participate in the social and recreational activities they offered. I later spent a short time on the Board of Trustees but the best thing that I did was to convince the top brass at the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) to allow two staffers from the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI) to have free space in the Jersey City office to start hip’s Hudson branch. Throughout it all I maintained a good friendship with hip’s founding CEO, Eileen Goff and I’ve been able to stay current on the tremendous growth of the CIL.

So, when it came time to retire from DVRS I looked around for opportunities that would combine my knowledge of people with disabilities, my interest in the progress of the disability movement and my commitment to the full inclusion of people with disabilities in their communities what better place to land than as President and CEO of hip. At DVRS my focus was on training and employment this transition allows me to expand my view and add outreach, education and advocacy to complete the service model.

We’re working on redeveloping the website, improving our imprint on social media and creating ways to respond to the needs of our consumers. I’m looking forward to this adventure and I want to share it with all of the friends and members of the hip community so I encourage you to contact me by using your favorite method of communication;
e-mail bfitzgibbons.ber@hipcil.org
phone (201) 996-9100
or arrange a visit.

Best regards,


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