Newsletter for the JESPY Community
Winter 2021 Edition 
Paintings, sketches, multi-media art, and more! These one-of-a-kind pieces of art by JESPY clients were recently featured as part of the SOMA Artists Studio Tour. The tour, which took place in various private studios, homes, and online, gave art lovers the opportunity to view work by our clients by logging onto the JESPY Art Factory Facebook page. A number of clients participated in the virtual tour with three JESPY artists selling their work.

  The recently-launched JESPY Art Factory and its Facebook page have enabled JESPY clients to express themselves artistically, showcase their talents, and sell their creations. Anyone interested in purchasing clients' work, send an email to
Keeping warm is super important during the winter months. To do their part in helping others, the JESPY House Client Social Action Committee recently conducted its 4th Annual Warmth Project. As part of the project, the committee collected new scarves, hats, gloves, and mittens.
The items, which were intended to help those who might not have these accessories, were distributed anonymously. To make them available, the Social Action Committee attached donated items to signs and poles (along with a note with encouraging words) throughout downtown South Orange. The project will resume and be in its third phase in February. To contribute new hats, scarves, and gloves, send an email to Gift cards (store, etc.) can also be donated so that members of the committee can purchase needed items.
There were season’s greetings and a whole lot more as JESPY clients closed out 2020! Holiday Express, whose programs bring joy to others during the holiday season, made this season extra special. Remaining true to what they’ve done during their 27 years of existence, Holiday Express provided music, food, and a fun time for clients. This time, it was through a special virtual holiday event. The party, which was a prerecorded video, included music, a dance party atmosphere, and costume characters.

  On the day of the event, Holiday Express provided gift bags for clients that included sandwiches and beverages. Other gift items included scarves, hats, gloves, blankets, and personal grooming items: shampoo, soap, body wash, and toothpaste. Clients excitedly participated in the online event with their friends, coworkers, and families.

  JESPY House is one of 100 organizations from New Jersey that was chosen by Holiday Express for its “Adopt an Event/Giving Partner Program.” In addition to the event, JESPY will receive a Giving Partner donation allowing us to purchase items and supplies to enhance programming for clients.
JESPY clients and staff welcome several large bags filled with the 'gift' items from Holiday Express.
In this installment of our newsletter, JESPY’s WREE (Work Readiness & Employment Engagement) department recognizes several JESPY Partners. These local businesses and community organizations have offered volunteer opportunities, company tours, job trials, training, and employment opportunities to JESPY clients.
In 2019, JESPY began expanding the connection and affiliation with the Maplewood/South Orange CVS store and its manager Altamash Arif. A great work readiness partner, the store location has been available to meet with JESPY clients to discuss job skills, what it’s like to work at CVS and to explore job opportunities. CVS has opened its doors for clients to take a tour, see the tasks that store associates complete, and obtain hands-on experience through job trials.
Atlantic Hospice – For over three years, Atlantic Hospice has offered volunteer opportunities to JESPY clients. Prior to the pandemic, clients visited the Hospice’s administrative offices in Morristown and Basking Ridge, NJ to complete various office tasks. During the pandemic, a number of clients who reside in JESPY shared housing completed “work projects” at home. Diane Coloney, a volunteer coordinator at Atlantic Hospice who initiated this continuation and connection with JESPY, has helped enhance our clients’ office skills and encouraged the compassion needed to work in the Hospice industry. 
A JESPY employer Partner for more than 30 years, the Veterans Administration (VA Medical Center), located in East Orange, NJ, has employed JESPY clients in their environmental services, mail room and administrative departments. Supervisors Patricia Prime, Noah Rolling, and Tyron Anderson serve as liaisons to WREE coordinators, often meeting with JESPY staff to discuss employee progress and develop new opportunities for the clients we support. These supervisors, along with staff in their Human Resources department, assisted JESPY job coaches with managing any employment-related issues that arose during the pandemic.

We applaud all JESPY employer Partners for their efforts on behalf of JESPY clients. In future issues of the JESPY newsletter, we will spotlight additional employment Partners. To learn more about WREE services and to become a Partner, call 973-762-6909, ext. 208 or email
JESPY recently gave major support to a MEND (Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity) food drive sponsored by the Maplewood Chamber of Commerce. MEND has been working harder than ever to secure food donations for local food banks to address the tremendous insecurity in our area brought on by the pandemic. The food drive, held on December 16th in front of the Maplewood Library, brought in crates full of a variety of grocery items.

Prior to the drive, monetary support and boxes and bags of items were donated by JESPY board members, staff, clients, and supporters as well as the Academy Heights Neighborhood Association of South Orange. The large number of donations filled “The Sweet Pea”, the affectionate name given to MEND’s food drive van.
JESPY staff and clients lent their time and support prior to and on the day of the Chamber of Commerce food drive.
Heading the charge for JESPY’s part in all MEND-related food drives has been JESPY’s Community Relations Supervisor Tara Roberts. JESPY will continue to conduct food drives for Our Lady of Sorrows church (a MEND Network member) in South Orange. To donate in time for the next delivery date of January 23rd, food can be dropped off in the boxes on the porch of 102 Prospect Street in South Orange. Requested items include rice, cereal, boxed milk, dried/canned fruit, beans, and pasta and sauce. For additional information, email
JESPY’s third annual DAP (Defining Abilities as Performers) Fest was hosted by NYC talk show host Rew Starr and included performances and prizes. During the recent event, JESPY clients had a virtual music celebration alongside artists from across the Atlantic.

After opening the event, Starr briefly turned the show over to JESPY Program Facilitator Michael Preston who explained the creation and meaning of DAP Fest. Client Heather S. also spoke about DAP Fest, shared words of encouragement and noted the importance of advocacy for individuals with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities.

DAP Fest was held on Zoom and was also simulcast on FB Live. Some of the JESPY clients who performed were Ethan S, Carly E., Harris E., and the J-Street Band. Guest artists included hiphop artist Enver Haywood (aka Dutch 40), British singer/musician Beckie Stoneham, and blues/bluegrass performer Noe Socha. DAP Fest is available for viewing on the JESPY and DAP Fest Facebook pages.
To commemorate the recent passing of a long-time JESPY client who was an avid crocheter we recently re-named the Fiber Arts Group JESPY’s Cathy Guarini Fiber Arts Group

This Group has recently embarked on an exciting collaboration with senior women of the Village Apartments of the Jewish Federation in South Orange which would have meant a lot to Cathy and which will result in giving back to the community.

The seniors donated beautifully colorful knitted squares to JESPY and now the members of JESPY’s Cathy Guarini Fiber Arts Group have started to turn the squares into blankets. The completed blankets will be donated to animal shelters as well as to hospitals in need of blankets for patients.
Left: The beginnings of a blanket created by the Fiber Arts Group and women from the Village Apartments of the Jewish Federation. Right: Cathy Guarini.
Moving forward this group’s mission is to continue to take on other meaningful projects to give back to others in the community, in keeping with Cathy’s desire to help anyone in need. If you know of a community program which would benefit from our clients’ beautiful and creative donations, please email


Audrey Winkler
Executive Director
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for more information about JESPY House services.