Greenbrook Parents Association
Phil Metta - President
New Lisbon Parents Association
Vito Colletti - Family Advocacy Representative
Hunterdon Family Association:
Association for Hunterdon Developmental Center (AHDC)
Cindy Bartman - President
Woodbridge Developmental Center Parents Association
Joanne St. Amand
North Jersey Developmental Center Parents Council
Kathleen Toth, President
Sam Friedman, Representative
Woodbine Parent Association
Dolores Thomas – President
The guardians and families of residents in New Jersey’s Developmental Centers did a survey in 2009. They found that 96% of families and guardians want residents to stay in Developmental Centers where they are best cared for.
Meet Mary Ellen and her parents Louis and Kathleen Scesa
Mary Ellen was born with severe brain damage and cannot walk or talk. She is unable to perform any physical functions other than feed herself. She is also prone to seizures for which she receives daily medication. After long and arduous deliberation, we placed Mary Ellen at North Jersey Developmental Center more than forty-two years ago on what is a day we will never forget for the sadness we felt. However, after a two-week acclimation period, she was a totally different person. Gone was the lethargy and she looked brighter than she had ever been before. This is an example of the positive effect that the staff and her surroundings had and continue to have to this day.
The care that Mary Ellen receives at the Developmental Center is exemplary and allows her to enjoy a better quality of life. Because of her condition, Mary Ellen could not be properly cared for in a community residence. There would not be enough staff to do so. The staff at North Jersey Developmental Center, whom we refer to as “angels”, are very professional and caring in their treatment of all the residents. To think of diminished care for Mary Ellen in a community setting is frightening for us.
We think that residents of North Jersey Developmental Center should not be kicked out of the only home they know. All other Developmental Centers are far away from our home in New Milford, Bergen County. We are in our seventies now, and a drive to a faraway center would make it more difficult for us to visit our daughter, yet we know she needs to remain in a Center to receive proper care. The closure of North Jersey DC would rip our daughter away from us.
—Louis and Kathleen Scesa
New Milford, NJ
Meet Donald and Virginia O’Brien and their daughter Catherine
Our daughter, Catherine O’Brien, is 51 years old and incurred severe brain damage at birth. She is classified as profoundly retarded and functions at a 7 month age level.
She has been a resident at a Developmental Center since 1965, and is contented and happy there. Cathy is non-ambulatory and must be transported in her wheelchair wherever she goes. She must be transferred cautiously to prevent injury. She
cannot talk or verbally communicate her needs. She is subject to seizures, requires a special diet developed by the staff nutritionist to prevent severe dysphagia and has many other health issues. She is totally dependent upon the professional staff for all her everyday needs on a 24/7 basis as are the majority of the clients at the Developmental Center.
She receives the best of care there. The professional doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, personal care assistants and many other employees on staff provide a high quality of life for Cathy and all the residents.
She is classified as not being a candidate for living in a community home by the professional staff inter-disciplinary team at her cottage and we strongly agree. She becomes very upset by change and needs frequent contact with us to keep her stable and happy.
—Donald & Virginia O’Brien
Parents/ Guardians of Catherine O’Brien
Our Families Matter Too
We supported Gov. Chris Christie on his first run for governor, and have been very pleased with his accomplishments.
We have a family member living at Woodbridge Developmental Center. This has been her home since August 1965. We are disappointed with the governor’s decision to close Woodbridge and North Jersey developmental centers and move the residents into the community, or to another center far from family and friends. These residents do not adapt well to change.
Christie chose not to move into Drumthwacket, the governor’s mansion, because he didn’t want to disrupt the lives of his children. As a father, we wish he had more consideration for our family members who live in developmental centers.
Please don’t turn your back on those who can’t speak for themselves.
Joseph and Harriet Fass, Bridgewater