The Guardian Goes Digital;
Monthly Distribution Begins

In an effort to provide the most timely information The Arc of Essex County will now publish The Guardian on a monthly basis and exclusively online.

An email will be delivered the first Friday of every month and content will be regularly added to the "News" section on the website.  We look forward to updating you on all of the exciting things we are up to and please do not hesitate to let us know what you think!

Participation Nearly Doubles at 18th Annual Building Tomorrows
5K Run, 2-Mile Walk, and Family Fun Fest

More than 650 members of the community joined The Arc of Essex County on Saturday, April 16th in support of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Raising more than $65,000, attendees enjoyed competing for the crown of the USATF-sanctioned 5K run, rallying family and friends to join their fundraising walk teams, and partaking in more than 15 interactive activities.

The morning kicked off with sunny skies and mild temperatures as Alex Delgado of Waldwick (18:27), Jason Heap of Morristown (18:32), and Maria Metzger of Basking Ridge (22:16) placed in the top three of the 5K run.  They were joined by nearly 200 other running enthusiasts eager to tackle the hilly course in Brookdale Park.

Following the run, nearly 500 walkers, many of whom proudly represented fundraising teams, enjoyed a 2-mile stroll through the park to raise funds for The Arc of Essex County.  Two teams stood out from the pack as they recruited the most team members and competed against one another to see who could raise the most funds.  The Essex County College Public Safety Academy Police Class BCPO-1 raised more than $3,000 and recruited 63 team members.  Returning team Action Jackson, led by Student Ambassador and Stepping Stones student Jackson Shulkowksi, raised $3,426 and from more than 75 donors!

This year's Family Fun Fest was the most interactive yet, with 15 different attractions, including food trucks, face painting, live theatre performances, caricatures, a bounce house, and more!  Children were especially drawn to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey's cookie decorating station, while adults were encouraged to smile and wave for Baseline Productions' aerial photos and video.

The annual Building Tomorrows family-oriented fundraiser is part of The Arc of New Jersey's Step Up for The Arc initiative, which raises both awareness and funds to support dozens of programs and services provided to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Among attendees were The Arc of New Jersey's Associate Executive Director, Celine Fortin, The Arc of Essex County Chief Executive Officer, Linda Lucas, Development Committee Chair, Stephen Falanga, Board President, Brad Hopton, volunteers, group home residents, sponsor representatives, and seven Student Ambassadors and Student Ambassador Mentors.

The event's success was due in large part to our generous event sponsors including: PSE&G, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Bird Pharma Consulting LLC, Enterprise Fleet Management, Gallagher Bollinger, Prudential, Public Sewer Service, Stop & Shop, New Jersey Family, Madison Invalid Coach, Shop Rite, Connell Foley, Jonathan J. Proce Foundation, Oratory Prep School, Sax BST, Village Super Market, and Wakefern Food Corporation. 

We hope you join us for Building Tomorrows' 19th year next April, and keep an eye out for the save-the-date for the 3rd Annual Uncorked and Uncapped - Wine, Beer, and Food Fest on September 29th!

Al Ianacone plants a tomato plant in the Verona Group Home garden.
April Showers Bring May Flowers
to the Residential Garden Program

On a bright, warm day in mid-May former staff member of The Arc of Essex County Al Ianacone and fellow master gardener Sue Langner load up on vegetables, flowers, topsoil, and supplies to kick off the annual growing season.  A few years ago the two met at a master gardening class and decided they wanted to offer their services to a local organization.  Together, they now head up The Arc of Essex County's residential gardening program.

To date, five of The Arc of Essex County's community residences have their own home gardens.  Each spring and summer, Ianacone and Langner open the gardens, plant saplings, and teach the residents and staff how to plant, weed, and harvest their bounties. 

They will check in with each home in late-June and early-July to ensure the gardens are thriving, then return in the fall to close the gardens down when the cold weather seeps in.  Thanks to the gardening program, the residents and staff are able to learn how to maintain a garden and enjoy the bounty of their efforts which include fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, string beans, and herbs.

If you'd like to make a donation towards The Arc of Essex County's residential services, please click here.

Jessie McCoy was among the first to participate in The Arc of Essex County's new planned giving program.
The Arc of Essex County Launches
Formal Planned Giving Program

After years of support provided by The Arc of Essex County to her son Stephen, Jessie McCoy was looking for a way to make an impact.  She decided to leave a portion of her estate to The Arc in gratitude for the loving care and unwavering support provided to her son.

"Stephen was able to live in the most independent manner he was capable of doing," said members of Ms. McCoy's family in a letter to The Arc following her passing.  "We are especially aware of all the support over the years from members of The Arc to make Stephen's visits to Atlanta possible at Christmas time.  Our children were able to grow up knowing their Uncle Stephen and he has become a strong part of their memories."

This winter, The Arc of Essex County launched a formal planned giving program giving individuals who wish to leave a lasting legacy a roadmap for how to do so.  A planned gift is any major gift, made in lifetime or at death as part of a donor's overall financial and/or estate planning efforts.  Planned gifts can include cash donations, appreciated securities, stock, real estate, artwork, partnership interests, personal property, life insurance, or a retirement plan to name a few.

If The Arc of Essex County has had a similar impact on you or your family's life and you are interested in learning more about the planned giving program, visit or contact Heather Comstock, Senior Director of Development & Communication at (973) 535-1181 ext. 1224.

Top three finishers in the slow walkers category proudly show off their gold, silver, and bronze medals.  Pictured (L-R) are James Imperatrice, Dusty Philbrook, and Ricardo Velez.
Day Programs Compete
in Annual Fitness Run/Walk

On Wednesday, April 6th The Arc of Essex County's Day Programs competed in their annual fitness run and walk in Orange Park.  The sound of pep talks, team spirit, and encouraging cheers could be heard throughout the park as day program attendees competed in three categories:  Slow Walkers, Fast Walkers, and Runners.

Congratulations to the following winners in their respective categories:

Slow Walkers
  • Gold - Ricardo Velez - Opportunity Zone
  • Silver - James Imperatrice - Special Young Adults
  • Bronze - Timothy (Dusty) Philbrook - Reach Community Resource Center
Fast Walkers
  • Gold - Marcia Murray - Supportive Work Opportunities Program
  • Silver - Antoine Davis - Supportive Work Opportunities Program
  • Bronze - Dwyan Byers - Bridges
  • Gold - Anthony Bushko - ARCompany
  • Silver - Allen Brown - Supportive Work Opportunities Program
  • Bronze - Christian Perez - Reach Community Resource Center

Honoring Board Members
for a Legacy of Commitment to The Arc

Samuel "Sam" Spina, former Mayor of West Orange and Director of Personnel for the County of Essex, was a member of The Arc of Essex County for nearly 25 years. During his time with The Arc, Mr. Spina served as a member of the Board of Directors and as an Advisory Board member. His support was instrumental in expanding The Arc's presence in West Orange and throughout Essex County.

Patricia "Patsy" Shillingburg, inspired by one of her three children, was a dedicated advocate and volunteer for The Arc of Essex County for 10 years.  During that time, she served on the Board of Directors and chaired a number of committees including the government affairs, institutions and respite care, and membership committees.  Her work resulted in many opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

To make a donation in memory of Mr. Spina or Ms. Shillinburg, please click here.

First Ever Challenge Week
to Launch on June 6th

The Arc of Essex County will launch, for the first time ever, an interactive fundraising challenge aimed at improving the recreation facilities at Camp Hope.  By participating in the week long challenge, you will be able to pool your donations with fellow participants to complete projects, unlock matching challenge funds, and see the fundraising thermometer rise in real time!

Be sure to check your email, tune in to The Arc of Essex County's social media channels, and visit the website to learn more and help The Arc rise to the challenge!

*    Subscribe to our Email Listserv:
*    Facebook:
*    Twitter:
*    Challenge Website:

New Vendors Sure to Wow
at 3rd Annual Uncorked & Uncapped

Entering its third year, the 2016 Uncorked & Uncapped event promises to be the best one yet!  With new features including liquid nitrogen cocktails from 321 Chillz, an exclusive event "firkin" brewed just for Uncorked & Uncapped by Magnify Brewing Company, and a larger selection of international wines, attendees will have the opportunity to try the latest and greatest fare from Essex County.

In addition to new vendors, crowd favorites from previous Uncorked & Uncapped events will also return, including River Horse Brewing Company, New Jersey Beer Company, Climax Brewing Company, A-List Wines, Strip House, Verona Inn, Poor Henry's, and more.  What's more, The Arc of Essex County will introduce a 50/50 at this year's event, and will once again feature a wine pull and silent auction, with items including overnight hotel stays and unique experiences.

The Arc is proud to shine a light on the 2016 honorees who have demonstrated their unwavering commitment to The Arc and those we serve.   Honorees include:
  • Corporate Partner Award:  Embassy Suites of Parsippany
  • Public Partner Award: John Duthie, Mayor of Roseland
  • Community Partner Award:  Rotary Club of Livingston
  • Lifetime Achievement Award:  Herb Lev
Uncorked & Uncapped 2016 will take place at the Westminster Hotel in Livingston on Thursday, September 29th.  Tickets can be purchased in advance for $100.

For additional details, to view a full listing of wine, beer, and food vendors, and to purchase tickets for the buzzed-about Uncorked & Uncapped community event, visit the event website at

For inquiries about becoming a vendor or sponsor, contact Heather Comstock at 973-535-1181 x 1224 or

Remembering Members
of The Arc Family

Christopher Villecca, a resident of the Oakwood group home since 2008 and an attendee of the Livingston CRC day program, loved Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and shopping at Home Depot.  A funny and intelligent man, Chris looked forward to attending camp in the summer, visiting the beach, and swimming.

Diane Garrett, a long-time resident of The Arc of Essex County and attendee of the Livingston CRC day program, enjoyed vacationing with her best friend Joyce to destinations including Belize, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Honduras, and Disney World.  She looked forward to visiting her father in North Carolina and sailing on his boat.  An avid fan of celebrities, she fondly recalled having once met Tom Jones, loved dancing to The Temptations, and rooting on her favorite football team, the New York Giants.

To make a donation in memory of Mr. Villecca or Ms. Garrett, please click here.

Jennifer Bushko registers for bathroom linens as her sister Caryn looks on.
The Star Ledger Covers
Recent Registry Trip to Bed, Bath, & Beyond

Originally printed in The Star Ledger, April 27, 2016

Tupperware, plates, bowls, a clock, a telephone, a radio, and a television.

Those were the big items on Caryn Bushko's shopping list Tuesday. She was one of four women who headed with The Arc of Essex County Tuesday afternoon to buy the items that will furnish their new group home in Roseland.

"I'm feeling pretty good (about it)," Bushko said of her impending move. What she's seen of the new home, the outside, looks "nice," she said.

The house is the 26th built and staffed by the Arc, a nonprofit agency that provides housing and other services to about 1,500 developmentally disabled adults throughout the county. The group purchased the Roseland home for $475,000 last June, and has spent about $150,000 in renovations so far to make it properly equipped to house the women who will be living there.

When the home's build out is completed in early June, it will house four women, three of whom are sisters, and a full time staff to facilitate their needs.

"Roseland is one town that we weren't in residentially, so we were really looking for an opportunity there," said Rebecca Lorusso, Director of Residential Services.

The four women who will live in the house - sisters Caryn, Christy, and Jennifer Bushko, ages 43, 30, and 33 respectively, and 55-year-old Dale Crews - had never before been shopping for their very own home goods.

The Busko sisters were living in a temporary crisis Arc home in Newark, and Crews was living in an Arc group home in Nutley. The Roseland home will incorporate additional features that address Crews's future mobility challenges, an Arc spokesman said.

So, Tuesday, the four picked out new things at the Bed, Bath & Beyond in East Hanover. The shopping trip, Lorusso said, was an opportunity for the women, and for the community.

"They are going to be living in the home, so they are making some of those important choices about what to put in it," she said of the residents.

"It also helps to spread awareness and foster acceptance."

The Arc asks locals to purchase more household items on the women's online registry so they can further fill out their new home. The Buskos are already a family, Lorusso said. By filling the home with the items they choose, they can truly enjoy it as such, she said.

"That's the really special thing about this house," she said. "They get to live here as a family."

Stepping Stones mother Trish Boylan poses with the Stepping Stones School primary class after participating in Read Across America week.
Day Programs, Staff, and Family
Celebrate Read Across America at Stepping Stones

Each year, staff, Day Program participants, and Stepping Stones family members join the students in celebrating Read Across America.  This year, the week-long initiative to encourage children to read more kicked off on February 29th.  Throughout the course of the week, more than 30 members of The Arc spent time reading with the students. 

Class favorites included many of Dr. Suess' classics and a special green eggs and ham lunch on the famed author's birthday, March 2.