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

hipNews Winter 2020

Heightened Independence & Progress - Our staff

hipNews Winter 2020


From the desk of the President

As you read this edition of the newsletter, we will have completed the first month of the new decade and we are excited to begin the 2020 celebrations of hip’s 40th anniversary.

Looking back to 1980 retrofitting buildings to be barrier free was only happening on government properties, post offices, some new construction and corporations with Federal contracts. It would be ten years until the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted into law. So hip was often the lone voice advocating for making places like restaurants, banks and retail establishments accessible. Like David versus Goliath hip singlehandedly challenged several condominium projects for ignoring the new construction codes requiring equal access. hip won a big judgment in a landmark case that made the entire construction industry take notice.

Those of you who have been with us since our humble beginnings at Englewood Community House have seen us expand into two offices in the County seats of Bergen and Hudson Counties. We have grown based on the Independent Living philosophy of “nothing about us without us” and the extraordinary vision of our founder, Eileen Goff.

The world is beginning to embrace the diversity that disability brings to the life experience, but we still have a long way to go to ensure equality and the ability to move freely about the community with the assurance that we will not need special arrangements. We are ready to tackle the new challenges of the 21st Century and correct some of the inequities left over from the past so please join us as we make plans for the next 40 years.

But, 2020 has given us several challenges to start the new decade: the 2020 census and the Presidential and Congressional elections. The census means a great deal to New Jersey when it comes to the funding of essential programs and we will continue to look to Washington to promote inclusive policies for people with disabilities. Let’s all work together to make positive changes happen.


Eric LeGrand at hip’s 40th Anniversary Gala – bELieve! 

All of us at hip are excited about our upcoming gala event to celebrate 40 years of serving the Bergen and Hudson communities. The gala will take place on Friday, May 1 at 6:30 pm at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Fort Lee. Tickets are $100 per person.

A highlight of the night will be the keynote speaker: Eric LeGrand, former Rutgers defensive tackle and advocate for people with disabilities. After an accident on the football field in October 2010 caused a spinal cord injury, Eric has been a positive role model not only in NJ but worldwide, inspiring those living with and impacted by paralysis to bELieve. Team LeGrand, his fundraising arm of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, has raised over 1 million dollars for the foundation to date. From becoming an author, sports analyst for ESPN, Sirius, the Big Ten Network and Rutgers radio, to a much sought after motivational speaker, Eric has given a voice to the paralysis community to mobilize support for critical initiatives, policies and cutting-edge research over the past seven years.

The evening’s events will also include dinner, dancing to the DJ stylings of the always fantastic Gary Morton, and highlights of hip’s 40 years of service.

Call Jayne Jacobs at 201-996-9100 ext. 26 with any questions. All proceeds from the gala go towards hip’s diverse programs. We look forward to seeing everyone there to enjoy the celebration!

Wedding Bells Were Ringing!

By Trisha Ebel, Independent Living Assistant

I would like to congratulate Genevieve Farrell and Robbie Fisk on their wedding, which took place October 5th! Genevieve is the daughter of Barbara Farrell, who is my volunteer with the Adjustment to Vision Loss Project. In lieu of giving out favors to their wedding guests, they made an amazing donation of a day at the Meadowlands Environment Center to AVL instead! I would like to thank them with all my heart and soul for their generosity.

The place card table at the reception provided an overview of hip, the Adjustment to Vision Loss project, and what the donated activity day would include. Then, on the back of every place card, there was a brief summary of hip, as well as hip’s website. Read further to find out all about our wonderful day!

Fun at the Meadowlands with the Bride

By Trisha Ebel, Independent Living Assistant

On October 21, 2019, 42 of hip’s Adjustment to Vision Loss consumers gathered at the Meadowlands Environment Center located in Lyndhurst for an entire day of educational and recreational fun! The day began at 8 am with coffee, donuts and croissants from Dunkin Donuts. Once all arrived, everyone was divided into 3 groups, each group rotated through 3 different experiences which included exploring all different herbs and spices as all created their own tea bags to take home. Another experience was horticulture: our hip consumers put together a plant in a bottle which all took home to continue to take care of it and watch it grow. Each person was able to pick whatever type of seed they wanted, some of the choices included thyme, sage, basil, parsley or cilantro. The third experience was getting into the FoodMobile, which was a big old school bus that was reconstructed with benches along each side, a counter and a table. Everyone took turns chopping, cutting and tasting fruits and vegetables for a beautiful and delicious birds nest salad.

Around noon we all gathered back in the classroom and had a wonderful lunch that was donated by the bride’s uncle Paul and Natoli’s Deli in Secaucus. 

After all activities were finished, all then gathered to take a hike along one of the MEC’s paved trails. There we all learned about the nature around us as well as the different species that were in the Hackensack River. We walked on a boardwalk that stretched out over the river as we listened to the information.

In my opinion it was fascinating to see just how many of our consumers joined in and enjoyed the entire day.  Our hip AVL consumers are so happy, dedicated and thankful! Just to see how our AVL program has helped our consumers gain independence, feel comfortable to get out of their comfort zones and live a full life again – this fills my heart with so much joy!

hip Mourns… 

Our hip Family lost the following members in recent months: Reva Prosnitz, Lisa Tester, Ethel Ball, Al Carney (father of Trish Carney), Frances Sbrocco and Rigoberto Za

Welcome to hip, Jennifer!

Jennifer Preciado joined the Hudson hip staff in November as the Comprehensive Independent Living Support (CILS) Case Manager. Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from New Jersey City University and is currently pursuing her MBA in Marketing. Jennifer volunteers with developmentally delayed adults for Camp New Day, which provides a positive and supportive environment for individuals with developmental disabilities. This is where she began her understanding of disabilities and the need for services in our community. Jennifer will be marking her tenth year at New Day in the summer of 2020 and has developed great skills which she now brings to hip.

In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys quality time with her family, traveling, and making new memories.

hip Thanks…

hip receives many contributions from the individuals and the community throughout the year. We thank the following for their recent exceptional generosity:

Heather Broad

Michael and Marie Cook

Lottie Esteban and Family

First Presbyterian Church of Hackensack

River Edge Lions Club

We also extend our heartfelt thanks to the wonderful parishioners of St. Peter the Apostle Church in River Edge and the generous participants in the Bergen Volunteer Center’s All Wrapped Up Holiday Gift Giving Program who provided an assortment of gifts including warm clothes, household items, toys, and gift cards which brightened the holiday season for a number of individuals and families associated with hip.

Special Quote

“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined efforts of every individual.” – Vince Lombardi

Why the Census Bureau Asks Questions About Disability*

The Census Bureau asks questions about a person’s difficulty with specific daily tasks to create statistics about disability. Local, state, tribal, and federal agencies use disability data to plan and fund programs for people with disabilities. Disability data are also used to evaluate other government programs and policies to ensure that they fairly and equitably serve the needs of all groups, as well as enforce laws, regulations, and policies against discrimination. Disability questions originated with the 1830 Census. The current questions were added in 2008.

The Census Bureau uses your confidential survey answers to create statistics like those below. The Census Bureau is legally bound to strict confidentiality requirements. Individual records are not shared with anyone, including federal agencies and law enforcement entities. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with anyone—not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA, and not with any other government agency.

There are three Yes/No questions about disability in order to identify limitations in basic areas of functioning and independent living.

  • #18. a. Is this person deaf or does he/she have serious difficulty hearing?

b. Is this person blind or does he/she have serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses?

  • #19. a. Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have serious difficulty
    concentrating, remembering, or making decisions?

b. Does this person have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs?

c. Does this person have difficulty dressing or bathing?

  • #20. Because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have difficulty doing
    errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping?

The Census Bureau compiles the results from these questions to provide communities with important statistics to help in their disability services planning. For example:

United States Percent with a Disability: 12.6%
Median Earnings of Persons with a Disability: $23,090

New Jersey Percent with a Disability: 10.4%
Median Earning of Persons with a Disability: $27,805

The Census Bureau has identified people with disabilities as a hard-to-count population, which means they are at a greater risk of being undercounted. The 2020 Census will begin in March 2020. Most households will receive a letter explaining how to respond online. There is also an option for responding by phone or by mail. Braille and large print guides will be available to respondents to assist with self-response. Census data help direct more than $800 billion a year in federal funding, including programs that support people with disabilities. So it is extremely important to be counted!

*Information from https://www.census.gov/acs/www/about/why-we-ask-each-question/disability/

It’s Official…

On Tuesday, January 21st, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation that officially designates the Seeing Eye® dog as the state dog of New Jersey.

All Seeing Eye dogs are born and trained in New Jersey before they are placed with people who are blind across the United States and Canada. The Seeing Eye is a pioneer of the guide dog industry, paving the way for acceptance of assistance animals in society and around the globe.

“As The Seeing Eye wraps up its 90th anniversary year, we are so honored that the great state of New Jersey has recognized the important role that Seeing Eye® dogs have in the lives of the people who raise, train and own them,” said Seeing Eye President & CEO Glenn Hoagland. “When our non-profit was founded, few people believed dogs could contribute to the health and wellness of humankind in the myriad of ways they do today. The work of our founders paved the way for acceptance of assistance animals in society, eventually leading to their incorporation into the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

The bill was introduced by Senator Anthony R. Bucco; after his death, it was shepherded by his son, Senator Anthony M. Bucco, and passed the New Jersey Senate and Assembly with unanimous bipartisan support.

“My father and I shared a passion for the work of The Seeing Eye organization and its mission to increase the independence of those who are blind and visually impaired,” said Senator Anthony M. Bucco. “This was one of the last bills that we worked on together prior to his passing. I couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute to my father than the signing of this legislation which encapsulates his deeply held belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to live with dignity and respect.”

Established in 1929, The Seeing Eye provides specially bred and trained dogs to guide people who are blind. Seeing Eye dog users experience greatly enhanced mobility and independence, allowing them to retain their active lifestyles despite blindness. The Seeing Eye is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, bequests, and other planned gifts.

The Seeing Eye name is only used to describe dogs trained at the school’s facilities in Morristown, N.J. For more information: www.SeeingEye.org, (973) 539-4425, info@seeingeye.org. 

Annual Meeting at a New Location!

hip’s annual meeting was held the evening of November 14th at a new location, the Westy Storage Center at 65 Commerce Way in Hackensack. A group of almost 100 hip consumers, members, staff and board members convened to discuss the highlights and accomplishments of hip over the past fiscal year.

To start, the finance report was presented by Treasurer Rick Hodgman, who explained that hip is in good financial order. This was followed by board member elections. The keynote speaker was Michael Fondacaro, a wheelchair user who has featured his travels throughout the country and his participation in many sports in an entertaining video titled, “Beyond the Chair.” Michael responded to questions using a communications board. He was a fantastic addition to our meeting this year.

President and CEO Brian Fitzgibbons reviewed hip’s accolades of the year and introduced the staff members of both the Bergen and Hudson offices. Betty Fetzer, Board Vice-Chair, then introduced the members of the Board of Trustees. The meeting ended by inviting the guests to offer their advice for future programs.

Westy contributed to half of the cost of food from Firehouse Subs and the entire rental of the space, tables and chairs – even the tablecloths, plates and napkins with all the utensils were included. Westy also distributed complimentary bags with various favors for our guests. They went out of their way to make sure all accommodations were made and in a timely manner. Thank you to everyone at Westy for providing such a wonderful environment for our meeting.

hip’s Annual Holiday Party

This year’s Holiday Season got off to a great start with our Annual Holiday Party. The partygoers arrived and quickly began to renew old acquaintances and were escorted to their seats by the attentive hip staff to sit down to a four-course dinner skillfully prepared by the chefs of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Fort Lee. The festive decorations were enhanced by displays of door prizes and colorful cookie tins while each table was set with beautiful poinsettias donated by Herman Hofman. As the first course was being served, DJ Greig Atkinson started the music and the group almost never stopped dancing. If they did take a break from the dance floor many of them dressed up for their close-up at the photo booth run by Irina from Back to Back Music (see the gallery page at www.hipcil.org).

The party was in full swing when hip volunteers started to circulate selling 50-50 tickets and we took a break for cake and calling out the door prizes. Anthony Yorio did a great job calling out the numbers. As an extra added bonus, we distributed over 125 beautiful calendars from a variety of charities. Finally, after all the numbers had been picked, in what has become a hip tradition, Chris Gagliardi offered up a very special rendition of “White Christmas”.

As the crowd dispersed many people were heard to say that this was a great party with good food, treasured friends and lots of fun.

We’ll Miss You, Mary!

Mary Mulvaney, Care Management Supervisor, retired in November after 5 years with hip. She was a social worker who helped so many people over her extensive career, which included positions at the OneStop and Bergen County CAP. Mary was always singing, making everyone laugh and bringing joy to both her coworkers and her consumers. We’ll miss you so much around the office and hope you enjoy your retirement, Mary!

African Drumming Circle

By Trisha Ebel, Independent Living Assistant

On November 12, 2019, hip’s Adjustment to Vision Loss consumers met at the North Arlington Senior Center and explored a new and exciting experience – an African Drumming Circle!

Alfred Fredel is a Health and Wellness coach as well as a Trained Health Rhythm Facilitator. Alfred instructed a 2-hour session to 12 of our hip consumers. The goal of the session was to bring unity and community through drumming and song!

This session was an introduction to group drumming. Everyone learns basic techniques on different percussion instruments normally found in a drumming circle. This was a great way to try something new.       

Alfred made sure that he included each person in the activity. He kept going around the circle letting all of us demonstrate our new skills as he instructed. I also must mention that Alfred has a powerful and beautiful voice, so he also had all of us singing, too! A great time was had by all and we are so thankful to Alfred for taking the time to facilitate a new experience for our support group meeting.

Empowering Women

The Empowering Women group had their January monthly meeting at Matisse Chocolatier at 260 Grand Avenue in Englewood, NJ. The ladies had a wonderful time making chocolate pizzas and bowls and dipping pretzels, cashews, chips, raisins, and marshmallows. We would like to thank Lucille for providing the ladies with a fantastic experience at Matisse.

Transition Conference & Resource Fair

hip collaborated with the Hudson County Office of Disability Services and Jersey City Public Schools to facilitate the 2019 Transition Conference & Resource Fair. The conference was held on November 2nd at County Prep High School in Jersey City. Addressed were several disability topics, including post-secondary education, financial entitlement programs, legal guardianship, community resources and adult services. The conference was a great success with over 100 participants.

Austin’s Corner

Austin’s Corner

Austin’s Corner

February 21, 2020

 I am Austin Epstein, past President and Vice President of the Board of Trustees at DIAL Center for Independent Living. Brian Fitzgibbons, President/CEO of Heightened Independence & Progress Center for Independent Living (hip) has given me the great opportunity to do a blog for hip’s website. I have decided to call it “Austin’s Corner.” History is good, as it puts a lot of things in focus. I would like to spend time on the present. How can we communicate all the knowledge of the past 40 years and where we hope to go?  We have been so busy trying to prove that these services were necessary that we forgot why this information was needed and how to disseminate it sensibly. Are we there yet? I am not sure.

A brief history of Independent Living Centers (CILs): hip and DIAL are in their 40th years of operation in New Jersey and all other CILs in NJ were established later. hip and DIAL were the first to receive federal funding in the state. The centers were originally supported by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) and the Commission for the Blind & Visually Impaired (CBVI). The two agencies pooled their resources to help their clients with disabilities became more independent. It was a novel approach – I should know, I was there.

We are in the era of 24/7 access to the web and Facebook. Many agencies have their own websites and Facebook pages. Where do you go for your information? Do you go online or are you more comfortable speaking to knowledgeable people on the other end of the phone?

We’ve recently had a vacancy in the position of Director of the Bergen County Division of Disability Services. If you were looking to hire a new director, what qualities and experience would you want this person to have and why?

Let me know your thoughts on these topics! Email austincornerhip@gmail.com

hipNews Fall 2019

Heightened Independence & Progress - Our staff

hipNews Fall 2019

Eileen Goff 

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 Weisman awards in addition to being named a hip All-Star.

In this edition of the hip newsletter we have created a special section featuring the recollections of the many people who were privileged to have known this dynamic woman.

Memorial contributions can be made to hip for the Eileen Goff Legacy Fund in care of Trish Carney.

Brian Fitzgibbons, MPA, CRC 



Computer Upgrade to Enhance 
Services at hip

hip is entering the 21st century with new Dell computers. Although hip is a small office, we believe that this upgrade will enhance our ability to provide the services that our customers deserve. The new technology will be faster and increase the ability of staff members to interact on an electronic network. We will also be able to assure the safety and privacy of our documents with cloud computing.

This upgrade is made possible through incredible discounts offered by TechSoup, an online tech marketplace that provides discounts to nonprofits for all things technical. TechSoup’s mission is “to build a dynamic bridge that enables civil society organizations and social change agents around the world to gain effective access to the resources they

need to design and implement technology solutions for a more equitable planet.”

It is our hope that this upgrade will make a big difference in our productivity and efficiency as we continue to provide services.

We Mourn . . .

the passing of Gilbert Benson on August 19th. Gilbert, a Life Member of hip, was an active participant at all of our parties, picnics, and meetings for almost 30 years, and was Trish Carney’s regular dance partner.

“Adjustment to Vision Loss” Program Update 
by Trisha Ebel

I am so very proud to report that our AVL program is expanding immensely and is really thriving! There have been many accomplishments so that now all AVL support groups are up and running facilitated by Trisha Ebel, Marie Sawyer and Joanna Mallard.

Our hip participants who are attending the meetings have gained so much information and a wealth of resources in all areas. For example:

  • assistive technology
  • transportation resources
  • state & county services
  • Library of Congress services
  • social skills
  • orientation and mobility skills

Our program has also benefited from a wonderful grant to hip from The Fund for The New Jersey Blind. With this grant hip was able to start a program, “Stepping Out with hip,” a series of ballroom dance lessons offered to our AVL members.  Ralph, one of hip’s participants, offered to donate his time and instruct a total of five 3-hour lessons at a venue in Secaucus. On June 5 we finished the ballroom dance lessons with a big “Tea Party,” where all dancers showcased what they learned!

Through our AVL program we are able to provide our members with the knowledge and skills to feel comfortable, get back into society, and live a complete and full life! Even though we are visually impaired or blind, with these resources we are empowered to do just about everything a sighted person does.

hip Picks and Bingo

The Hudson consumer meeting was held at the Secaucus Library and hosted by Brian Fitzgibbons, our CEO, and the Hudson staff. Consumers enjoyed lunch and a day out for interesting conversations about “What’s next at hip?” and “What can hip do for our consumers?”

We had a fun-filled afternoon of bingo with great prizes! This event gave consumers an opportunity to voice their opinions and needs and make hip staff aware of areas of interest in an effort to expand and meet the needs of our community. Consumers were delighted by the event!

Wellness Workshop
by Hudson Intern Zarish Shahid

Health is a combination of your physical, mental and social well-being.  Health affects everything about a person: how one feels, thinks, looks and acts.

We conducted an informative workshop focused on enhancing health and wellness for consumers. The workshop addressed lifestyle diseases, unhealthy diet, the importance of water, and exercise. We learned how small changes and setting a few health goals can make a big difference.

Consumers enjoyed a nutritional lunch with a variety of fruits to encourage the beginning of a new healthier lifestyle.

We also mourn the loss of Tom Bengaff…

Thomas John Bengaff, who passed away on April 26, was an advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities and a longtime hip board member. A celebration of his life was held on July 13 at the State Line Lookout in Alpine, NJ. Family, friends and hip representatives spoke about his many contributions to disability advocacy and, above all, his personal inspiration to all who knew him.


Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free;

I followed the path God laid for me;

I took His hand when I heard Him call;

I turned my back and left it all;

I could not stay another day;

to laugh, to love, to work or play;

tasks left undone must stay that way;

I found that peace at the close of day;

If my parting has left a void;

then fill it with remembered joy.

My life’s been full, I savored much;

good friends, good times,

a loved one’s touch,

A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss;

ah yes, these things, I too, will miss.

Perhaps my time seemed all too brief;

don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.

Lift up your hearts and share with me;

God wanted me now, He set me free.

The poem, “I’m Free” that appeared on Tom’s memorial card tells us a lot about him. Tom was injured in a diving accident on the day of his senior prom but that didn’t stop him from graduating from Northern Highlands Regional HS and earning degrees in Mathematics/Physics and Business Administration from Ramapo College. He went on to become a Program Analyst with the United States Army Corps of Engineers working at Picatinny Arsenal.

Tom’s advocacy for people with disabilities took him in many directions. He was active in Big Wheels offering access to the beaches for wheelchair users, he led a boy scout troop and developed a computerized bulletin board to encourage communication and to connect to the community. He was committed to voter rights and the removal of architectural barriers going so far as to examine the accessibility of shopping districts in some Bergen County communities. He was also a charter member of the Monday Morning Project which later became People First New Jersey. In addition to hip Tom served on the Board of Bergen County Community Transportation.

At the memorial service two of Tom’s friends discussed their lifelong friendship which started over peanut butter sandwiches in the first grade. They started a Foundation to assist Tom with some equipment and other needs not covered by insurance. They surprised the crowd of sixty at the service by donating the remaining funds from the Foundation to hip where a special award will be established in Tom’s name.

What is an Advance Directive?

“What kind of medical care would you want if you were too ill or hurt to express your wishes? Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to spell out your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time. They give you a way to tell your wishes to family, friends, and health care professionals and to avoid confusion later on.”*

New Jersey has two kinds of directives. The first is a “proxy directive.” This is also known as a “Durable Power of Attorney.” The “proxy directive” is a legal document in which you appoint a person(s) to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. The “proxy directive” can be temporary because of an accident or permanent because of a disease. The person you appoint becomes known as your “healthcare representative.”

The second kind of directive is an “instruction directive.” This is also sometimes known as a “Living Will.” A living will is a written, legal document that spells out medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive, as well as your preferences for other medical decisions, such as pain management or organ donation. You can also include information about your values and treatment preferences in the event you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions.

The New Jersey Dept. of Health

provides a great deal of information and answers many of the questions you may have. The Department’s website also links to standard forms for advance directives provided by The New Jersey Commission on Legal and Ethical Problems in the Delivery of Health Care. The information and forms can be found at: https://www.state.nj.us/health/advancedirective.


My Wonderful Experience with Bergen Bassmasters at Darlington
County Park
by Kathy Moore

I want to start by thanking Brian Mahoney of Bergen Bassmasters, Heightened Independence and Progress (hip), the Bergen County Parks Department, Bergen County Community Transportation, and all the wonderful people who volunteered their time and energy to make this event possible.

Saturday, June 8, 2019, was a very beautiful, sunny day in Mahwah, NJ. A lot of us traveled by Bergen County Community Transportation to Darlington County Park to go fishing. When we arrived, we could see that Brian Mahoney was on top of everything needed for the event. There were t-shirts for all whether you were a volunteer or a participant. Umbrellas were available for people who either burn easily or are not very mobile. Whatever the case was, everything was nicely done.

The Bergen Bassmasters was formed in 1986 and has since grown into one of the most respected bass fishing clubs in the state of New Jersey. The Bergen Bassmasters is more than just a fishing club. It is an organization where bass anglers can meet new friends, learn new techniques, be aware of environmental issues, and give something back to those less fortunate.

This event was the 31st Annual Norm Trass Outing for the Disabled. The organizations participating in this event were Heightened Independence and  Progress (hip), The ARC of Bergen and Passaic Counties, Spectrum for Living, Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey and Boy Scouts of America.

Everyone was a winner! Chris Gagliardi, Ryan Roy and Larry Pagano were the biggest winners at hip for catching the most fish, along with Susan Lee who received a trophy for the most unusual catch of the day: yikes! a snake. The rest of us received medals, too.

We had a DJ who played good music and the volunteers were able to get some of the attendees dancing. We ate well, too – hamburgers and hot dogs straight from a BBQ grill!

So, if you didn’t come this time, remember to put this event on your calendar for next year!

Enabled by Thanasis Aspras, Bergen hip Intern

Being consumed by self-doubt is a common part of the human experience and more often than not we let self-doubt dictate what we can and can’t do. In turn, we sometimes give up on dreams that we think are unrealistic. However, by denying yourself the chance of achieving your goals you may never truly know where your limits lie. Derrick L. Coleman, Jr. is the first legally deaf offensive player in the NFL. Derrick was legally deaf by age three, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing his dream of playing football. He had humble beginnings as a college football star but eventually he was able to garner the attention of the NFL. In 2012 Derrick was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, and the very next year he played in Super Bowl XLVIII where they took home the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Derrick Coleman is an inspiration to an innumerable amount of people as well as being a compassionate advocate for people with disabilities. Derrick wrote the book No Excuses which describes his life and how he was able to overcome his disability. He also started the non-profit organization known as No Excuse Foundation with the goal of building confidence and acceptance for the deaf community. They help by providing scholarships for deaf students, donating money to fund the development of hearing aids, promoting self-advocacy for deaf students and a good deal more. By going to their website at www.noexcusefoundation.com, you can help them achieve their goal of empowering those who have a hearing disability.

Derrick Coleman was not consumed by self-doubt on his journey, and he was able to help a multitude of people on the way. He didn’t treat his disability as a roadblock that would impede his progress. Instead he kept moving forward with confidence. Everyone has the potential to achieve greatness so take that potential and stride with conviction.

National Disability Institute’s Assistive Technology Loan Program

The National Disability Institute is a non-profit organization that provides

low-interest loans to people with disabilities, seniors, and veterans who live in New York and New Jersey. The purpose of the loans is to help people locate and purchase assistive technology devices and services to meet the individual’s needs. These loans are serviced by participating banks and credit unions.

Assistive technology includes home and vehicle modifications, ramps, smartphones and apps, computers, hearing aids, and other equipment and devices that will help improve a person’s quality of life. Assistive technology resource guides to help New Jersey residents try devices and borrow and locate funding, including grants, to purchase assistive technology, can be found on the National Disability Institute website: assistivetechloans.com. Loans are available from $500 – $30,000.

The interest rate is 4%. Repayment terms are from 12-120 months, based on the life of the device and the ability of the applicant to pay. Payments are due each month.

An “Assistive Technology Guide for New Jersey,” which lists many programs and agencies that provide assistive technology devices and demonstration services for these devices, is located on the website.

The loan application process includes, faxing a loan application with ID and proof of income and monthly expenses to (202)449-9521. You will then review your credit report and application with the NDI staff. Pre-qualified loan applications are transmitted to a participating bank or credit union for a final determination. For much more information and details about the loans, go to the website, assistivetechloans.com, email Laurie Schaller at lschaller@ndi-inc.org or call at (202)449-9521.

What Are Invisible Disabilities? by Diomayra Ramos

We usually associate a disability with a visible physical and/or mental condition – something we can see. In fact, many disabilities are not apparent to others but are no less challenging. These are the invisible disabilities. Approximately ten percent of the American population has some form of invisible disability according to the Disabled World website. A large number of individuals are suffering in silence from such conditions because there is no visible evidence to alert us.

We tend to recognize a person with a disability based on his or her appearance and overlook many internal limiting factors that may be at least as challenging. It’s surprising how quick we are to characterize people and their disabilities based solely on external appearances, but there is a lot more to disabilities than meets the eye. It’s estimated that a greater number of people are living with an invisible disability than a visible one. Chronic conditions, for example, are the most common type of invisible disability. We may not even consider many of these conditions disabilities because they range from something as common as allergies to more severe conditions such as anxiety disorders.

These types of illnesses can have the same impact on someone’s life though usually in a very different way. For example, someone in a wheelchair might not be able to ride the bus due to inaccessibility, yet a person with anxiety might be unable to ride the bus because of a crippling fear of having to sit next to strangers. Both struggle with boarding the bus, the only difference is that the cause of one struggle is readily apparent to us, while the other is “invisible.”

We all know people with invisible disabilities. Some common examples are migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome. These can be debilitating conditions that prevent the people who suffer from them from experiencing a complete and fulfilling life. We just don’t see it.

As we become more aware of the world of disabilities and the many forms that a disability may take, government and other private organizations are beginning to take steps to assist people with invisible disabilities.  Identifying these individuals and their disabilities may be the first step toward the implementation of helpful accommodations.

Much more information can be obtained from the Disabled World website: https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/invisible


The Special Needs Assistance Program (SNAP) assists with the acquisition

of adaptive equipment and devices. SNAP funding can be used to purchase items and to obtain services intended to enhance independent living. Bath benches, walkers, hearing aids, automobile hand controls, and wheelchair rentals are a sampling of the assistive technology SNAP covers. SNAP is funded up to $300 through the Bergen County Department of Human Services.

The Modification Access Project (MAP) provides partial funding to improve access in the homes of Bergen County residents with disabilities. Renovation projects may include ramps, widening of doorways, roll-in showers, lifts, and automatic door openers. MAP can help pay for professional evaluations, material and labor. MAP is funded up to $1800 through the Bergen County Department of Human Services.

More information about both programs can be obtained by contacting Maria Valentin at hip. Tel. # (201)996-9100 ext. 18.

Project Lifesaver International

The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office is a participant in Project Lifesaver International whose mission is to provide rapid response for adults and children who wander due to Alzheimer’s Disease, Autism, Down Syndrome, and forms of dementia. The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office has trained and equipped its members to assist local police departments in locating these individuals.

Participants in the program are fitted with a small battery-operated radio wrist transmitter that emits a tracking signal 24 hours a day. Each wristband has a unique frequency, so the Project Lifesaver team can locate and identify a missing person.

If a participant wanders, the caregiver contacts the local police, who initiate a local search while contacting the Sheriff’s Office to begin a search with the tracking equipment. The team is trained in methods to communicate with and approach persons with these disorders.

There is a one-time equipment fee of $300 and a monthly maintenance fee of $13. Income-eligible participants may qualify for a waiver of the initial equipment fee.

More information and details of the program may be obtained by contacting the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office’s Outreach Unit at telephone 201-336-3540.







Feeding your family healthy food rich in Iron, Vitamin C and Calcium can help limit the absorption of lead.

  • Iron – lean red meats, beans, peanut butter, and cereals
  • Vitamin C – oranges, green and red peppers, and juices
  • Calcium – milk, yogurt, cheese, and green leafy vegetables like spinach NJ SNAP can help you buy nutritious foods that can help fight lead.

New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (NJ SNAP)

Provides individuals and families with low incomes money to purchase nutritious foods that can help fight lead. To apply for NJSNAP online visit njhelps.org. or call 1-800-687- 9512 and visit www.NJSNAP-Ed.gov for

information about healthy food. NJ Department of Human Services Phil Murphy, Governor Sheila Oliver, Lt. Governor Carole Johnson, Commissioner

Calendar of Events


Empowering Women Support Group

October 17     11am – 1pm   Bergen hip Office

November 21

December 19

Book Club

October 4       11am – 1pm   Bergen hip Office

November 1

December 6


Voter Registration

September 17 – 18

Halloween Art Workshop

October 31

Grammy Museum Trip

October 16

Youth Transition Meeting

November TBA

Hudson County Meeting for HIP

December 11


hip Bergen

October 8       December 10

November 12

North Arlington

October 8       December 10

November 12

Washington Township

October 16     December 18

November 20

Jersey City

October 24     December cancelled

November 21


October 3       December 5

November 14

 Telephone Support Group

Young Adult Peer Conference Call

Ages 18 – 30  7:30 pm

October 17     December 12

December 12

Older Adult Peer Conference Call

Ages 31 – 50  7:30 pm

October 3       December 5

November 14


October 30


November 14 7 – 9 pm

Westy Self Storage Event Center, Hackensack


December 15

Please call the hip Office to confirm that the meetings will take place.

hip Offers Innovative Programs to Meet the Independent Living Needs of People with Disabilities in Bergen and Hudson Counties and Beyond

Founded in 1980, Heightened Independence & Progress (hip) is observing 39 years of service. 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.

Adjustment to Vision Loss coordinates peer support groups. Contact: Trisha Ebel (Bergen)

Community Advocacy and Outreach Program seeks to promote full inclusion through advocacy, education and legislation. Contact: Hudson Staff or Bergen Staff

Comprehensive Independent Living Support (CILS) provides care management assistance to residents of Hudson County to remain in the community. Contact: Angela Arboleda (Hudson)

Division of Developmental Disabilities Support Coordination Program assists individuals from Bergen and Hudson Counties to discover their full potential. Contact: Mary Mulvaney (Bergen), Natalie Alave (Hudson)

Empowering Women Support Group. Contact: Nicole Clark (Bergen)

Hispanic Outreach Program directs Independent Living services to individuals of Hispanic origin, in English and Spanish. Contact: Maria Valentin (Bergen) or Angela Arboleda (Hudson)

Youth Transition Case Management assists high school students to plan for their future and for employment. Contact: Jennifer Paniagua (Hudson)

Modification Access Project (MAP) assists with funding for barrier-free home renovation projects from concept to completion. Contact: Maria Valentin (Bergen)

Multimedia Transcription Service (MTS) transcribes textbooks and other materials into Braille. Contact: Jayne Jacobs (Bergen)

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

Polio Network of New Jersey – The Ruprecht Fund. hip administers this fund for PNNJ to help polio survivors in New Jersey finance necessary products and services. Contact: Maria Valentin (Bergen)

Senior and Caregiver Assistance Program provides care management to individuals over the age of 60 and/or adult family caregivers. Contact: Mary Mulvaney (Bergen)

Special Assistance for Independent Living (SAIL) provides funding to Hudson County residents for assistive devices or barrier-free home renovation projects. Contact: Natalie Alave (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) provides ongoing care management services through assessment, linkage, and coordination for people with disabilities (18-59). Contact: Mary Mulvaney (Bergen)

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a state-funded case management program for New Jersey residents who have survived an acquired brain injury, for services and supports they need to live in the community. Contact: Brian Fitzgibbons (Bergen) or Marily Gonzalez (Hudson)

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