Newsletter for the JESPY Community

Fall 2022 Edition 
To beautify the environment and provide protective shading, JESPY joined the South Orange Environmental Commission’s Shade Tree Group and the Department of Public Works on November 28th to plant three shade trees in the area of Meadowbrook Place.
In attendance were several JESPY clients and staff; Barbara Bour, an active Shade Tree Group member; and employees of the Township’s Public Works Department. One of the trees was planted in front of The Michael Och House – A Center for Aging at JESPY.
Clients participation in the Shade Tree Group is one of JESPY’s Inclusive Healthy Communities (IHC) grant endeavors. The IHC grant, funded by the NJ Department of Health, Division of Disability Services, provides opportunities for JESPY to partner with the Village of South Orange, the South Orange Business Community, the local neighborhood association, and others to implement and work on projects that will make our community more inclusive of people with disabilities.
Nearly ninety individuals attended JESPY’s fourth COVID-19 Vaccine & Booster Community Clinic.
Held in conjunction with the Partnership for Maternal & Child Health of New Jersey, this clinic on November 9, open to individuals age 5 and older, provided the bivalent COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters (Pfizer & Moderna), as well as flu shots to participants. Giveaways were also distributed during the clinic.
On November 3rd, South Orange Village Present Sheena Collum; Village Trustee Summer Jones; Acting South Orange Village Administrator Julie Doran; Mary Theroux, Chief of Staff to Assemblywoman Mila Jasey; JESPY Executive Director Audrey Winkler; and JESPY Board President Ahadi Bugg-Levine joined together for the groundbreaking ceremony for South Orange Commons, a project JESPY has been involved with for numerous years.
The project, which will be South Orange’s first 100% affordable housing building, is a JESPY partnership with South Orange Village, Bergen County United Way Madeline Corporation and Penwal Affordable Housing Corporation. JESPY clients and staff, and members of the community were also in attendance.
The event for the 26-unit (16 for adults with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities and 10 for low-income families) building took place across from the site of the upcoming project’s West Third Street location. During the ceremony, Chief of Staff Theroux presented a proclamation recognizing JESPY and signed by members of the Senate and State Assembly.
Congratulations are in order for JESPY client Jody K! She was recently recognized as an Outstanding Athlete (Area 9 – Essex County) at the NJ Special Olympics Night of Champions. While participating in JESPY sports, Jody has excelled in golf and track and field.
“Jody has always shown the determination to do the best she can during every sport that she participates in,” says Kevin Barton, JESPY’s Athletics & Fitness Coordinator. “She never gives anything less than her best efforts and it shows in every competition she has been a part of. Nominating her for the Outstanding Athlete award was an easy decision because she gives her all in every sport she plays.”
We’re so proud of your accomplishments Jody!
Current and prospective employers joined JESPY’s Work Readiness and Employment Engagement (WREE) Department for an informative and insightful Employer Partnership Breakfast on December 8th. The gathering, which was held at Elitist Coffee in South Orange, was a perfect opportunity for employers to network, share information, and learn more about JESPY’s employment program and JESPY client employees.
Guest speakers included Elaine Katz, SVP Grants & Communications of Kessler Foundation, an expert in employment for people with disabilities; Robin Peacock, Executive Director of MEND (Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity), a community volunteer site for JESPY's prevocational services; and employer Kimberly Moye, Owner of Nothing Bundt Cakes.
Starting top left: Elaine Katz from Kessler Foundation (seated) is shown with JESPY's Lisa Fiore; Robin Peacock from MEND; Kimberly Moye of Nothing Bundt Cakes; and event attendees.
“Hiring someone with a disability can help to change the culture in your workplace,” said Katz, who offered a number of helpful suggestions to employers. “Also spend time looking for growth for people once they’ve been with your company for some time. What else can they do?”
"It's all about doing what's good for your business," added Lisa Fiore, JESPY's Work Readiness & Employment Engagement Manager. "You want an employee who does a good job and we want our clients to have great job skills and to do their best."
During the event, client words of thanks to employers were displayed on a poster board.

"I have learned a lot about the retail business. It has helped me develop my social skills, including my confidence and self esteem." - Parnell

"Thank you for being very supportive of me." - Jeanine

"I really enjoy working at this healthy and safe work environment. I also enjoy working with the customers." - Ari

"Thank you for helping me grow and expand my opportunities." - Artin
For more information about JESPY’s WREE program or how you can become an employment partner, email Lisa Fiore at
Fashion was recently front and center at an outdoor fashion show hosted by South Orange Downtown and featuring ten JESPY clients. Held in Spiotta Park, the colorful and eclectic clothing modeled by JESPY clients was provided by Sadie’s, a boutique in South Orange, owned by South Orange Downtown Board Chair Catherine Fisher.

“I never thought I would ever be in a fashion show," stated a JESPY client model.
The event - which was organized by South Orange Downtown’s staff Melissa Hodge and Lisa Lombardi Szulewski, and Cat Fisher - also featured the JESPY Glee Club and refreshments courtesy of local eateries.
To assist with alleviating food insecurity in the surrounding area, JESPY is once again collecting food items for MEND (Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity). Requested items include cans of beans and tuna, boxes of low- or sugar-free cereal (Raisin Bran, Chex, Cornflakes, Cheerios), and pasta, and bags of rice.

JESPY clients volunteer at MEND every week and are passionate about fighting food insecurity.
The drop-off location for items is 102 Prospect Street, South Orange. JESPY is accepting donations through December 20th. For additional information, email

Longtime clients Phil and Carly were recently wed! The couple, who are also both employed at The UPS Store in South Orange and active participants in many JESPY programs, dated for several years before getting engaged. Everyone at JESPY wishes you both a long life together and a huge congratulations!
If you have not yet made a year-end donation, there’s still time! This year, you may want to consider a gift of appreciated stock or a qualified charitable distribution through your IRA. Both offer tax advantages without impacting your day-to-day accounts AND they are great ways to support JESPY House.
With gifts through your IRA, it is important to note that you should contribute directly to JESPY from your IRA account.
We encourage you to talk to your tax professional before making these types of gifts. Also, please be sure to notify us prior to each stock transfer or IRA-directed distribution so we may accurately identify and acknowledge your gift.
For more information, please call Kelly McLaughlin in the Development Department at 973-762-6909, ext. 322 or visit our website for additional ways to support JESPY clients.
Thank you for including JESPY in your year-end giving plans!

Clients were delighted to have the opportunity to build a giant menorah out of LEGOs, an activity made possible by donors Stephen and Bunny Schwartz of Building Blocks Workshop LLC. An architect by background, Stephen has been bringing the Menorah LEGO program to organizations for the past 25 years. The pandemic forced a gap in this activity the past few years, so this early December activity was met with great enthusiasm.
Top: Clients recently participated in Shabbat with visitors from Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. Below (starting left): Clients in JESPY's Engagement & Enrichment Program attended a vegan festival at the Meadowlands; participated in a Zumba activity with JESPY board member and parent Sophia Gershman; and took a trip to Salem, Mass. Bottom right: the JESPY Glee Club sang carols at the Holiday Market in Maplewood.
Below: (starting left) Clients at the Michael Och House - A Center for Aging at JESPY held their own 'Great Gatsby' party, played slot machines at Empire Raceway Casino in NYC and bowled at Hanover Lanes. Participants in JESPY's Athletics & Fitness Program excelled at playing volleyball and flag football.
Below: (Left) Clients in JESPY's Day Program viewed a private showing of the film Wakanda Forever at Cinema Lab at SOPAC - sponsored by JESPY Board President Ahadi Bugg-Levine and Antony Bugg-Levine. (Right) Clients also enjoyed an outing to Medieval Times courtesy of the Judi House Fund.
We invite you to keep up with the latest JESPY news. The perfect way to do that is to follow us on social media. Join our followers and supporters on multiple platforms by clicking the links below:

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Did you know that JESPY House has been a participating charity in AmazonSmile for years? This is a simple way to support JESPY House every time you shop at Amazon, at no cost to you.
Not enrolled, yet? It’s easy! Set it and forget it, then every time you make a purchase Amazon contributes 0.5% of your eligible purchases to JESPY House.
Click HERE to register and learn more. Happy Shopping!
Send a message of holiday cheer while supporting JESPY in the process! Creative holiday cards, designed by JESPY clients, are now available for sale. Cards are packaged in sets of four identical cards for $20 and come in two designs. Click HERE to visit the JESPY Shop and make a purchase.


Audrey Winkler
Executive Director
 Please visit us at
for more information about JESPY House services.