(201) 996-9100 Bergen / (201) 533-4407 Hudson

hipcil Newsletter Summer 2023


From the Desk of the President:

From the Desk of the President:

In the Winter/Spring newsletter we talked about some of the changes that we anticipated for the new year and I’m happy to report that we have begun to operationalize them and expand our service delivery.

For the past two years the Independent Living Community has developed a new partnership with the NJ Department of Human Services’ Division of Disability Services. This new funding relationship joins our federal grant from the Administration of Community Living, fee for service arrangements with the Division of Developmental Disabilities and NJ Transit Access-Link as well as contracts with the Bergen and Hudson County Departments of Human and Senior Services. Our fundraising efforts yield us unrestricted funds that can be used for creative projects to aid consumers.

With our enhanced resources we have been able to automate the front door of the Bergen office, purchase a Driving Simulator to evaluate a person’s ability to drive, and upgrade the office furniture and equipment. In Hudson we were able to defray the cost of relocating by moving to the ninth floor in a larger and beautifully renovated space in the iconic building at 35 Journal Square.

Despite some staff turnover we can now boast of having 33 full and part-time employees, which signifies a significant growth in the agency and we plan to continue to expand.

Brian Fitzgibbons

Empowering Independence: The Accessible Door Button at Heightened Independence and Progress

By Blagica Jankuloska

Empowering Independence: The Accessible Door Button at Heightened Independence and Progress

By Blagica Jankuloska

At Heightened Independence and Progress, our longstanding commitment to fostering independence for individuals with disabilities is reflected in our actions both within the community and in the workplace. As an organization, we take immense pride in ensuring that people with disabilities can lead autonomous lives. Now, we have gone a step further by installing an accessible push button in our Bergen CIL – an initiative that embodies our dedication to empowering individuals and breaking down barriers.

This accessible door button serves as a testament to our unwavering commitment to inclusivity. We recognize that accessibility is not limited to physical spaces, but extends to every aspect of life, including the workplace. By implementing this simple yet transformative device, we have eliminated a common obstacle that could hinder the mobility and independence of employees with disabilities. With the push of a button, individuals using mobility aids can effortlessly navigate through our office, reducing their reliance on others for assistance and promoting self-sufficiency for both our consumers and employees.


The hipcil Gala Event

After a short two months of planning, hipcil ventured into some new territory and held a small Gala meant to raise funds to cover activities that have no other financial support. This was a departure because the annual dinner dances had been basically designed as social events for hipcil members. This time the concentration focused more on vendors and colleagues and borrowed from the Russ Berrie Foundation by creating the “hipcil Making a Difference Award”.

The guest of honor and first award recipient of the evening was Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli, who has been a longtime benefactor through his program to donate clothing from the town’s outlets to benefit our consumers in Hudson County. He brought members of his staff and after a great introduction by Trisha Ebel he spoke about his commitment to the residents of his town.

The next three awards went to three longtime members of hipcil’s Board of Trustees, each of whom have served well over 25 years. They are:

· Anna Navatta – Board chairperson who sits on multiple Boards and committees in her three-county jurisdiction.

· Rick Hodgman – hipcil’s longest serving treasurer who has had a long career as a CPA. He is actively involved in the Special Olympics and the Knights of Columbus.

· Betty Fetzer – Board Vice-Chair who enjoyed a long career as a Nurse and who has been involved as her town historian, a longtime supporter of the Girl Scouts and a world traveler.


The evening was quite festive with a lovely buffet, a lively DJ and the opportunity for hipcil to make new friends and forge new alliances. The silent auction included many interesting items that caused some excited bidding. All of us at hipcil hope to continue this success by planning our next even bigger and better gala for the fall of 2024.


2023 Bergen Bassmasters Fishing

hipcil had much to celebrate at this year’s annual Bergen Bassmasters fishing outing, held Saturday, June 3rd at Darlington County Park in Mahwah, NJ. hipcil friends Chris Gagliardi, Kathy Moore, Rich Pietrzak, and Gian Pagliaro all took home prizes!

This wonderful event is something that hipcil looks forward to every year, and we thank all involved in the planning process and for continuing to make this happen!


Welcome to hipcil!

Joanna Olmedo joined the Bergen hipcil staff in March 2023. She brings a wealth of knowledge and a strong passion for making a positive impact in the lives of others. Currently pursuing her master’s degree in clinical Mental Health, Joanna holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, which serves as a solid foundation for her work.

At hipcil, Joanna serves as a dedicated team member for case management. Her goal is to provide comprehensive support and resources to individuals with disabilities, ensuring they receive the assistance they need to thrive.

As a single mom of three boys, Joanna understands the value of empathy and compassion. Her personal experiences have deepened her commitment to helping people with disabilities. She firmly believes in the potential of every individual and strives to empower them to live fulfilling lives.

Outside of work, Joanna finds solace and rejuvenation in nature. She enjoys going on hikes, breathing in the fresh air, and taking in the beauty of her surroundings. Joanna is deeply connected to her community and actively participates in various community initiatives. Her strong ties to her faith provide her with a sense of purpose and guide her in making a difference in the lives of others.


The 2023 Membership of hipcil Continues to Grow! We Welcome the Following New and Renewing Members!

Peter E. Ambrose

Deborah Azzarone

Larry Bauer

Bergen New Bridge Medical Ctr., LTC+

Alice Bogoshian

Karen Browne

Jeanne Carney

Nancy DeSiervo-Ability Beyond Sight+

Alan & Lynn Gold

Alice Hamburg

Michelle Keller & Family

Nagui Khouzam

George Kidney

Patricia Martin-Barksdale

Joan Masella

Joseph Masella

Danielle Pettineo

Danny Vaca

Cindy Zirkin




Corporate +


You can still become a member of hipcil for 2023! For a membership form visit our website at www.hipcil.org/membership or call one of our offices!


hipcil Thanks…

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

First Presbyterian Church of Hackensack

William Fellinger

Adele D. Cannie

Evie Levinson

Joseph Masella

Hon. Lisa Firko

Hudson Picnic

The Hudson picnic took place on May 19th in the picnic area of Liberty State Park. Spending a sunny day outdoors together was exactly what everyone needed after years of COVID regulations. The Hudson picnic was full of laughs, delicious food (including lunch, snacks and dessert), and fun games. There was a kiosk offering shade that allowed everyone to relax while enjoying the warm breeze.

During the picnic, the hipcil consumers had a great time participating in the different activities. Some consumers enjoyed playing basketball, baseball, skeeball, and board games while others listened to music and danced. The day was a joyful success with so many wonderful moments.

Transition Fair in Paramus

Photo: Blagica Jankuloska, Joanna Olmedo and Jesse Schwartzman represented hipcil at the Transition Fair in Paramus on May 11th.

The 2023 Calendar Raffle is Underway

The Bergen CIL staff has been having a great time picking calendar raffle winners and mailing out prizes, including a big win of $100 on July 4th! Looking forward to a fun summer of winners!

Thank you to all who donated auction items and sponsorships for our Gala! Your donations were a huge highlight of the evening.


Let’s Roam! 5 Wits

Total Wine & More Elite Island Resorts

New York Giants

Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa

Kendra Scott Jewelry Urban Air

Betty Fetzer (Silver Level Sponsorship)

Mary Mulvaney (Silver Level Sponsorship)

Judith Liebman (Silver Level Sponsorship) Wegmans

Friendship House (Platinum Level Sponsorship) Adventure Aquarium Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill Philadelphia Flyers

SoJo Spa Club


Kyle’s Pottery Place

Brian Fitzgibbons (Platinum Level Sponsorship)

Marily Gonzalez (Platinum Level Sponsorship)

Morey’s Pier

Charity Works

Ralph Terminiello (Silver Level Sponsorship)


The hipcil Fall Fun Festival!

Join us at the hipcil Fall Fun Festival!

We have missed having our summer picnic the last few years. We’re looking forward to an event full of food, fun and fall celebration!

Save the Date

October 7th

Hackensack Recreation Center

More info to follow!

We Mourn…

Our hipcil family lost the following people in recent months:

Bernice Baron

Marcia Goulding


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