SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Gainful employment, self-advocacy, life-skills development and medal wins at the Special Olympics are just some of the ongoing accomplishments of clients at JESPY House. An agency that successfully supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, JESPY this year celebrates its 45th anniversary.
“Our 45-year milestone solidifies that, through our specialized programs and services, JESPY is truly filling a need,” JESPY Executive Director Audrey Winkler said. “Our client accomplishments are glowing examples of what can be achieved when individuals with I/DD are fully supported.”
Established in South Orange in 1978, JESPY House opened with four clients and three staff. Since that time, the nonprofit organization has grown to 260 clients and nearly 100 employees. In addition to more than 12 couples who have gotten married, many clients live in community settings or one of JESPY’s residential houses, including an aging-in-place residence.
JESPY’s wide range of programs and services, developed to support each client’s journey toward independence, include: Day Habilitation, which prepares clients for community inclusion and offers training in daily living skills; Engagement & Enrichment, which provides well-rounded recreation activities and cultural experiences; Clinical & Behavioral Support Services, which offers long- and short-term counseling in multiple areas; Athletics & Fitness, where clients participate in team sports and personal fitness; Case Management and Community-Based Supports, which offer one-to-one support to clients in various aspects of their lives; Residential Services, which includes three housing options; and Work Readiness & Employment Engagement, which enables clients to learn employment skills and earn wages.
As a result of their participation in JESPY programming, many JESPY clients are successfully employed at companies such as Prudential, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walgreens, Stop & Shop, ShopRite, Miti Miti restaurant and Five Guys, to name a few.
Additionally, clients have successfully advocated for affordable housing and received individual recognition awards from the New Jersey Association of Community Providers, New Jersey Association of Persons in Supported Employment and Special Olympics NJ.
This past summer, four clients traveled to Orlando, Fla., to compete for the first time in the 2022 National Special Olympics USA Games, where they secured gold medals in several sports. In 2019, client Jane C. won a number of medals at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.
JESPY clients enjoy contributing to and living in the South Orange community they call home — volunteering in support of community initiatives; shopping locally for food and personal items; and paying for recreation, entertainment, groceries, restaurant meals, transportation and residential costs that total over $3.5 million annually.
“We are excited about what the future holds for our clients and for JESPY as an organization,” Winkler said. “We are committed to helping our clients do their best. Continuing to provide top quality services, programs and facilities where they can excel is a big part of that equation.”
To learn more about JESPY, visit jespy.org.
Photos Courtesy of JESPY House