J-ADD, the Jewish Association for Developmental Disabilities, and special guest Mayor Francesco Caramagna, just celebrated Chanukah with a special re-dedication; the organization held a Chanukat Habayit at its Elmwood Park group home on December 18, the seventh night of Chanukah. The residents, their families, J-ADD staff and volunteers, as well as visitors from the community, enjoyed a festive evening highlighted with music by Tuvia and a feast that included latkes, hors d’oeuvres and mouth-watering desserts.
But the event’s real joy and excitement came from the residents’ enthusiastic return to their home. Because the Elmwood Park home opened 20 years ago, extensive renovations, both for accessibility and improved livability, were sorely needed. This required the residents to relocate for a period of 18 months during the project. Yet they also were given an important job to do: According to J-ADD’s executive director, Dr. John Winer, “It’s consistent with our philosophy of inclusion and consumer dignity to engage the residents in the redesign process as much as possible, while they patiently awaited the project’s completion.”
Winer explained that the residents were intimately involved in the redesign process. “Each resident participated in the design of their own bedroom (the home has six) and they helped select the furnishings and accessories,” he said. It was clear that the residents could not have been more eager to return to see the results of their planning. Winer was effusive about the way the project turned out. “I could not be happier! Our consumers in Elmwood Park now have what they have always deserved—a beautiful, inviting and fully accessible new home.” Winer also expressed gratitude to the state of New Jersey for providing an accessibility grant that partially funded the renovations. “We couldn’t have done this without the grant and are always grateful for the vital financial support we need to complete these projects.” He thanked the J-ADD board, under the leadership of Sharon Horn, for their fundraising efforts and KVD architecture and Build Within Reach for their professional design and construction.
J-ADD is a certified 501(c)3 non-profit organization that operates seven kosher group homes and seven apartments in Bergen County for adults with developmental disabilities and is a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. For more information about J-ADD, its services and programs, contact Dr. John Winer at 201-457-0058 x2001.