Our Daughter's Path to Independence
Our daughter has been a happy and productive member of JESPY House for the past twelve years. Initially, she lived in The Residence, successfully transitioning after five years into her own apartment. Prior to living at JESPY, she attended an out-of-district, private school that serves children with special needs, where, though popular with her peers, she still struggled academically.
She was sixteen years old when she first learned to walk around the block on her own in our quiet, suburban neighborhood… a giant step for a teenager who was otherwise completely dependent on her parents. Yet, after a few years at JESPY House she was able to navigate the village of South Orange – buying coffee at Starbucks, getting haircuts at the local salon, exercising at the neighborhood gym, and dining at nearby restaurants with her friends. When she first moved into the program, she was an insecure, sheltered young woman. But within weeks, she adjusted to her new surroundings and made many new friends.
JESPY House has over 200 clients with a broad range of challenges and abilities. The program offers each of them opportunities to grow artistically, athletically and socially, not only supported by one another but also supported by the greater community of South Orange, which has come to value and accept them.
Our daughter takes advantage of all JESPY House has to offer, participating in track & field, cheerleading and soccer. She’s even given bocce, tennis and bowling a try. A member of the photography club, the poetry, out-client travel and nutrition groups, she’s also found success in performances with the drama, Zumba and glee clubs. As a matter of fact, she’s so busy that she sometimes needs the assistance of her case manager to help with her schedule. And for over a year, she’s been in a happy relationship with another client.
When our daughter first moved to JESPY, our extended family and her school friends asked her what “JESPY” stood for. She replied “I think it means independence.” She was right. With the help of a very supportive staff, JESPY House has given our daughter a chance to live an independent life. If we would have known when she was a little girl that she would wind up living in such a welcoming, inclusive and caring community, it would have saved many tears and sleepless nights.
It’s never too soon to start planning for your child’s transition to independence so that you’ll be prepared for the morning that the school bus stops showing up at your front door. We would be happy to answer any questions from prospective families considering joining JESPY House. If you would like to chat with the family, please contact JESPY’s Administrative Office at (973)762-6909.
For information about JESPY House Transition Services for high school students, click here.