Newsletter for the JESPY Community
Spring 2021 Edition 
JESPY’s Work Readiness and Employment Engagement (WREE) department continues to build employer partnerships and highlight existing relationships. A special thanks goes to the employers who have maintained employment for JESPY clients throughout the pandemic, rehired employees who were furloughed, and offered new job opportunities in 2021. 
In 2020, these employers and others remained open and supported our clients’ goals of employment and independence: Stop and Shop, Whole Foods, Turtle Back Zoo, The Millennium Group, Prudential, Wal-Mart, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, East Orange VA Medical Center Administration, Bed Bath and Beyond, Panera, The UPS Store, and Pomptonian Food Services
Employed JESPY clients work in a variety of jobs at these companies. Some of the positions include mailroom clerk, machine operator, office worker, cashier, stock clerk, food service worker and customer service. 

WREE staff initiated new relationships with a number of companies who hired JESPY job seekers. The businesses include Alberti Woodworking, TJ Maxx, Walgreen’s, Home Depot, Hello Fresh, Amazon, Acme Supermarkets, PetSmart, and Bobbie’s Learning Center
A new and exciting opportunity for clients preparing for work in the gardening field is the Founders Park Conservancy. Volunteers meet to clean up and replant at Founders Park in South Orange, just in time for the start of spring.

To assist furloughed or unemployed clients in successfully re-entering or entering the workforce, the WREE department continued to provide work readiness skills support throughout the pandemic.

If you would like additional information about WREE services or to become an employer partner, please contact 973-762-6909, ext. 208 or email Lisa Fiore at
Photo top right: JESPY client Phil L. recently resumed his job at the UPS Store. Photo above: Client Ruth C. learned more about the practice of gardening during the Founders Park Conservancy’s annual clean-up day on April 24th.
The Village of South Orange recently made an exciting request of JESPY clients and they’re certainly proving to be up to the challenge! Our client photographers have been tasked with taking photographs of memorials and dedications located in parks and playgrounds throughout South Orange, NJ.
The monuments include named trees, plaques, stones, benches and signage. The Township has provided a full list of locations and suggested that our photographers also use their ingenuity to find memorials that may have been forgotten, are lesser known, or have been overgrown by plants or shrubbery. During the 6-week project, clients will provide two photos – one of the memorial and another of the location.
Park locations include Cameron Field, Floods Hill, Riverside Park, Spiotta Park, Grove Park, Firehouse Playground, Waterlands Park, and others.
We greatly appreciate the Village thinking of JESPY clients for this important endeavor. Good luck JESPY photographers!
In April of 2020, JESPY began the important work of conducting food drives to support local food pantries and help combat food insecurity in our community during the pandemic. This April marks the one-year anniversary of JESPY’s partnership with MEND (Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity).

To commemorate the milestone, JESPY held an onsite food drive on April 20th, where MEND brought back its ‘Sweet Pea’ van to collect a full van load of donated food and personal items. Teamwork and comradery were at the forefront throughout the two-hour food drive.
During the warm-weather day, a number of JESPY clients and staff came out to sort and load items (which included cereal, pasta, peanut butter, pullups and diapers) onto the MEND van. In addition to products donated by JESPY families, clients, staff, board, and community members, JESPY was the recipient of a generous food donation by GOYA. The GOYA donation included 36 cases of kidney and black beans, mixed vegetables, rice, and tomato sauce.

JESPY will continue to help others in our community with this effort , dropping donated items off at our local food pantry at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in South Orange. For more information about how you can help, please contact Tara Roberts at
Twenty-two JESPY clients were invited by Special Olympics New Jersey to try out for Team NJ for the Special Olympics USA Games. The athletes will head to the July tryouts and take part in the following sports: soccer, softball, track/athletics, bocce, basketball. 

Clients were chosen based on their participation, medal performances and wins during the 2019 NJ Special Olympics. To prepare for the upcoming tryouts, some clients have been training in the gym and walking locally. Others have even started their own healthy eating plans. JESPY’s Fitness & Athletics department, which has been conducting virtual exercise and cardio sessions, will also be working with clients in person and virtually to prepare them for tryouts.
Team announcements will be in September with the Nationals taking place in Orlando, Florida in June of 2022. Good luck to all of our JESPY athletes!
Client Jill T., shown top right, is one of the JESPY clients trying out for the Special Olympics Games.
Many JESPY clients have worked diligently at keeping in shape, whether virtually with our weekly programs or in person. They’ve participated in everything from calisthenics and yoga to Zumba and sporting activities. They’ve had lots of fun in the process. For an inside look at what they’ve been up to, click on and check out this engaging and energetic video collage below created by JESPY Athletics & Fitness Coordinator Jerica Best!
JESPY is excited to announced that one of our many ‘star’ clients will be recognized with a 2021 STARS Award from the New Jersey Association of Community Providers (NJACP) on May 11, 2021. Jody K., a JESPY client for 38 years, will receive the award during the virtual event which was designed to recognize clients for their determination and persistence on their journey to living full and rewarding lives.
Jody was nominated by JESPY’s Community Relations & New Business Initiatives Supervisor Tara Roberts. “I nominated Jody because she has exhibited 38 years of hard work, a great attitude, and she fully embraces JESPY’s mission of being truly independent,” Roberts said.
Jody became a client in 1983 as part of the JESPY Residential program and has thrived ever since. She has been successfully employed at several jobs throughout the course of her working career, most notably at Prudential where she has worked for 33 years as an administrative assistant.

Jody married her husband Dan in 1999. The two enjoy a fun and supportive marriage and have spent many of their summers traveling to places like Florida, Washington, DC, and Hawaii.
The New Jersey Association of Community Providers (NJACP) represents a number of providers whose sole missions are dedicated to advancing and supporting individuals with intellectual, developmental and other disabilities.

Congratulations Jody! We are so proud of you!
More than 40 JESPY clients and staff came out to cheer on the parade of cars that passed by on March 24, 2021 during the ‘Happiness and Hope Parade’ hosted by Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
Undeterred by the drizzling rain, clients and staff greeted drivers with handmade signs, shook colorful pom poms and waved and cheered, while the drivers boasted their own signs of encouragement, honking all the way.

This is the second parade put together by the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest. The stream of cars recognized and honored JESPY clients for their strength and fortitude and our front-line workers for their commitment during the past year.

A heartfelt thanks goes to our friends and supporters at the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest as well as clients and staff!
JESPY now has a LinkedIn page that will serve a multitude of purposes. As LinkedIn is an online business and employment-oriented service widely used to make connections and expand networks, our JESPY page has been created to enhance a variety of connections.
Connections are important for the benefit of our clients as they seek employment and volunteer opportunities, connect with others who use LinkedIn who may need our services, and promote JESPY to prospective individual and corporate supporters.
If you have a personal and/or business account, please connect with JESPY’s page. It is really easy and can be so helpful to us. Here’s how:
1.    Log into LinkedIn, then use the search bar in the upper left-hand corner to look for JESPY House.
2.    Select JEPSY House from the search menu (you will recognize our logo) to be taken to the company page.
3.    Next, click the blue “+Follow” button to receive our updates in your newsfeed.
4.    You will be able to share our posts with your networks and help us expand our audience.
Thanks in advance for your connections and your support! If you have any questions, please email
Now that venues are beginning to open their facilities and grounds, JESPY’s Shared Housing clients recently went on a fun and explorative day trip to one of Jersey’s popular locations – the Turtleback Zoo!
“We had an amazing day,” said JESPY Daily Living Skills Counselor Ebony Gonzalez. “All the clients and staff really enjoyed themselves, especially during these trying times. We have to be happy that we are now able to enjoy the great outdoors, while still staying safe.”
While viewing the zoo’s various animals, clients practiced social distancing and reveled in spending some time together outdoors.
It’s been over a year since the pandemic struck, turning everyone’s lives upside down. And through it all, you, our supporters, have stood by JESPY, providing important philanthropic support to ensure that we could continue to provide our clients with the programs and services which are at the core of their lives.
Most of our offerings have been virtual, opening new channels of communication for many clients. Our staff’s ingenuity and passion for developing over 100 weekly educational, fun, and interesting programs has brought JESPY’s offerings to new heights. From Zumba to Yoga, meditation to nutrition, music composition to creative writing, clients have been able to engage in programs and activities which amuse and challenge and provide socialization and skill building.
Sustaining this programming and moving into hybrid programming (in-person simultaneous with virtual) takes continued support.

Realizing this—and considering the recent highs of the stock market—a few JESPY supporters recently asked if our organization accepted gifts of appreciated stock as donations.
The answer is of course “yes, indeed” JESPY gladly accepts gifts of stock!

With the stock market reaching new heights, gifts of appreciated stock may be of real interest and great benefit to many who care about JESPY. Experts say that the most appreciated stock in your portfolio may represent the best to donate as it offers the greatest potential tax benefit.

If you have held a highly appreciated stock for a year or more, you may want to consider donating them directly to JESPY House. The donation you make and the tax deduction you receive are greater than they would be if you were to sell the shares and donate the cash proceeds instead. By donating shares directly, you may avoid paying the capital gains tax. In addition, you can receive a federal income tax deduction based on the current market value on the securities on the date of the gift (depending upon your personal tax situation).

It’s always important to speak with your financial advisor and/or accountant to determine if a gift of stock makes sense for you.

To make your gift or request more information, please email Amy Engel, Director of Development at We will put you and your broker in touch with JESPY’s account representative at Merrill Lynch so you can easily make your direct gift of appreciated assets.

Thank you for all you have done, and continue to do, for JESPY clients!
As part of JESPY’s continual efforts to provide a healthy environment, twenty clients and staff recently received a Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccination. The vaccines were provided by Terrence L. McCoy, Acting Division Director, and nurses from Essex County Division of Community Action.
Special thanks also go to Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey and Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. for supporting our efforts to keep our client  community safe. This successful event was coordinated by JESPY’s Director of Organizational Management, Aisha Muslim.
Several clients shared their reasons for getting the vaccine. “I came to get the vaccine because I was worried that I could possibly get COVID,” said JESPY client Jordan F. “I’m looking forward to coming back to JESPY and I want to be ready.”
“A lot of people want to get back to normal,” said Joey M. “I feel the same way. I thought that getting the vaccine would be harder than it was, but it was fine.”
“I wanted to get the vaccine before I come back to JESPY so that I can be protected,” shared Chris C.
Every now and again we like to point out to the JESPY community that we have an active Facebook page which is chock full of information about JESPY, client achievements, State and Federal news as it pertains to individuals with disabilities, news on advocacy efforts for disability rights, and lots more.

Over the years many caring individuals have also used Facebook as a way to celebrate their birthdays or special occasions while conducting personal fundraisers for JESPY.

If you haven’t checked out our Facebook page recently, please do! Click HERE to get connected. You will find that it is a valuable resource for all who care about JESPY clients.
We’re excited to announce that all JESPY programs will move on-site and will provide in person (and will continue virtual) services beginning on Monday, May 10th. The Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) has given new guidance regarding re-opening in person programming. 

JESPY is currently permitted to open at 50% capacity. Due to restricted capacity and safety guidelines, we must limit the number of clients that can participate in any one activity at a given time.

All safety protocols will be strictly implemented at all times. We look forward to seeing everyone!


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