Stories of JESPY Clients

Together for Independence

Doris 'Story

We all have walked our own path to independence. Parents always worry about their children when they go off on their own. JESPY is there to help our clients and their families make these transitions together.

Doris* loved her family, but she worried that they didn’t really see her. Her family always worried about taking care of her, but never considered what she wanted. She wanted to live on her own one day! Then, Doris and her family found JESPY. As Doris developed skills and became more secure in her abilities, so did her family. It wasn’t easy at first, but they all grew together. Now, Doris travels on JESPY trips, goes to the movies with friends, and manages her own money. Her family has developed confidence in how Doris lives independently, and they have all grown even closer!

She has accomplished a great deal and been very success in JESPY’s Day Habilitation Life Skills program. As Passion explains it, “JESPY keeps my mind steady!”  

In the future, Passion hopes to have her own apartment and a rewarding job. Before COVID, she had volunteered at an adult day center where she worked with seniors on projects, played bingo, and exercised with them. Passion shares, “It was a joy seeing them. It made me feel good. I want to help people and encourage them.”

The Oppenheimer Family

Our Story

“Helping people live their best lives,” is how Debbie and Mark Oppenheimer describe JESPY. 

When Debbie and Mark searched for a program for their daughter Dawn years ago, they found programs that focused only on employment, or only on housing or only on recreation. 

They chose JESPY House because “we had a child with exceptional needs, and we knew we needed to find a place that offered the most comprehensive services. A place that would allow her to live the most authentic and genuine life. JESPY has offered Dawn social, recreational and work experiences. JESPY is home."

Dawn has been a JESPY client for 21 years. She lives in a shared house with five other people and enjoys cooking once a week. What does she love about JESPY? “Being sociable and making friends. JESPY is a wonderful program. The staff are amazing. They are helpful and understanding,” shares Dawn.

 “I like that South Orange has a city feel,” says Mark. Dawn walks around South Orange and feels comfortable. The whole town watches out for JESPY clients. That’s important.”

Dawn enjoys spending time with her younger sister Jill and with other family members. She looks forward to finding a job working with older adults at a senior center where she can help them with different activities.

The Plotnick Family
The Plotnick Family

Our Story

A JESPY client since 2003, Andrew Plotnick is one of four children. He has two older brothers, Michael and Jeremy, and a younger sister, Sheila. Andrew’s mother Julia, a pediatric nurse of national stature with numerous international assignments, served as Rear Admiral, RN, MPH, FAAN, Assistant Surgeon General, Chief Nurse of the U.S. Public Health Service (Retired).

Julia is proud of all that Andrew has accomplished. A college graduate, Andrew loves his independence. Living on his own, he cooks, drives, and pays his own bills. He enjoys writing and vintage television programs from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. He is computer savvy and is exceptionally analytical. The JESPY team describe Andrew as extremely kind and very grateful for JESPY’s support.

Julia shares, “While Andrew is extremely independent, it gives me and my family great peace of mind to know that JESPY is always there to support Andrew and help him to manage various aspects of his life. I have long supported JESPY, as I know the work that JESPY does is unique and vital. I do not know what we would have done without JESPY.”

Forever passionate about the nursing profession, Julia offers some “words of wisdom” about her dedication – words which can apply to all of us in our endeavors:

"Everyone has something to give and most of us don't even realize our potential. If you have the ability to make an impact, you have to give back or the opportunity is lost forever."

Battle of the Chefs

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