J-ADD adds another one
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J-ADD adds another one

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J-ADD’s new group home in Teaneck will house six people.

On Sunday, the Jewish Association for Development Disabilities inaugurated its newest group home.

The residence, in Teaneck, will house six people.

It will be J-ADD’s first residence to be fully accessible for residents with limited mobility; all living quarters are on the ground floor.

For more than 25 years, J-ADD has been offering “a place for Jewish people with developmental disabilities to live in a home where Jewish customs and rituals are honored and celebrated,” said Dr. Beth Bressman Sackler, the Hackensack-based organization’s president.

Currently, J-ADD provides housing and support services for around 50 residents in seven group homes and five apartment units. Dr. Sackler’s brother is among those residents; she and her former husband, Dr. Richard Sackler, dedicated the house.

J-ADD offers respite services to aid people who take care of disabled relatives at home. It also offers vocational services to the developmentally disabled, whether or not they live in one of the organization’s homes.

J-ADD is an agency of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. The federation’s women’s group, Women’s Philanthropy, held a virtual shower, donating kitchen and household supplies through a Bed Bath & Beyond wishlist.

The bulk of the organization’s budget, however, comes from the government’s Medicaid program, which pays for the ongoing housing and care of the disabled. (The government does not pay capital costs, such as inaugurating a new home or repainting a residence.)

There is not enough government money to provide residential care for everyone who qualifies for it, and New Jersey has a list of thousands of people waiting for group home placement.

“There are families who children have lived with them into their 40s, and now they want their sons and daughters to go into one of the homes. But they are on the bottom of the state list,” Dr. Sackler said.

Dr. Sandra Gold was the founder of J-ADD. Her husband, Dr. Arnold Gold, a pediatric neurologist, told her of the patients he was seeing who would need a kosher home.

“It took two and a half years of negotiation with the state for them to see that this was an important need to meet,” Dr. Gold said.

“It’s been a wonderful experience to see this project grow,” she said.

Dr. John Winer, J-ADD’s executive director, said that New Jersey is changing the way it funds services for the disabled. Those changes should shrink the size of the waiting list while easing the financial burdens on agencies such as his.

This comes as the state is closing some of the large institutions, “where the majority of the dollars are going at the moment in terms of caring for individuals with developmental disabilities,” he said.

He thinks that’s a good thing: “The minute someone is in an institution, you have segregated that individual. You have punished the individual and the community because neither can benefit from each other.”

Dr. Winer said that bringing the developmentally disabled into the community – whether in a stand-alone group home or in a dedicated apartment within a larger complex – is an important part of “normalizing” their lives.

“Trying to give people quality lives is what it’s about,” he said.

“We try to get our guys into the community. A lot go to the JCC on the Palisades rather than go on special programs for special needs. The more we can move them into the community and make them visible, the more it improves their quality of life and also improves our life.”

Over the years he has been working in the field, he has seen a far greater acceptance of people with development disabilities.

J-ADD works with other groups that provide services for J-ADD residences, such as the Orthodox Union’s Yachad and the Lubavitch-affiliated Friendship Circle.

“We just started a program with Federation funding together with Friendship Circle volunteers for people who are non-vocal,” Dr. Winer said. “This is a monthly meeting. My goal is that if they can identify other members of the group, they have progressed.”

For Dr. Sackler, growing up with a disabled brother “was trying. It makes you very grateful for being OK. I think it gives you a greater sense of compassion for people who have differences, whatever they may be.”

She alluded to that feeling of gratitude when speaking to the many J-ADD supporters who crowded the home at Sunday’s dedication.

Give for those who have family members who have disabilities, she said.

And give even more for those who don’t.

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