Project Freedom “Spotlights” the Need for New Funding

When NJ Governor Phil Murphy announced $303 million in federal funding being budgeted for affordable housing, the media turned to Project Freedom to explain why the funding is needed.  Taceee Battis, Project Freedom’s Executive Director, joined other affordable housing advocates to talk about how this money will help build more housing with affordable rents. 

Read Tracee’s comments here.

Watch Tracee’s Spotlight/NJPBS interview here.  

 

Paralympic Winter Games will have Primetime Coverage by NBC

NBC will present primetime coverage of a Paralympic Winter Games for the first time when the network broadcasts the 2022 Games from Beijing, a spokesperson told USA TODAY Sports. 

The games start March 4 and will be shown on NBC, Peacock, USA Network, Olympic Channel, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. The opening and closing ceremony are set to air live on USA Network. 

Seven total hours, including three in primetime, of the games will air on NBC.

Just as they are doing with the 2022 Beijing Games set to start next week, the Paralympics will livestream all events on Peacock, via the premium tier.

NBC is banking on following the success of the Tokyo Paralympics last summer, which set records for viewership.

Read More by Clicking Here

Selective Insurance & Nottingham Agency Join to Support PF Recreation Activities

 

Selective Insurance Company of America and the Nottingham Insurance agency combined to raise $249 to support Project Freedom’s recreation and support services for its tenants.

The donation was the positive result of a presentation to the Selective staff at their headquarters in Hamilton last summer.

Nottingham Insurance Agency has been supporting Project Freedom for over 35 years and, as a community-minded, has contributed many volunteer hours to Project Freedom events.

Selective staff members have pledged to volunteer their time for future activities.

Pictured Left to Right: Herb Schneider, Chair, Project Freedom Board of Trustee; Tracee Battis, Executive Director: Norman A, Smith, Associate Executive Director; Teresa M. Caro, Senior Vice President, Selective Insurance; Jack Blair, Partner, Nottingham Insurance, and Kathy Staggard, Underwriting Manager, Selective Insurance.

Take The Isolation Survey

The New Jersey Legislature passed a law that requires the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) to study social isolation among four specified groups: seniors age 65 and older, individuals with disabilities, individuals with mental illness, and those who have or currently serve in the military. 

For this study, social isolation is defined as a lack of contact or meaningful connection with others. Social isolation may have varying effects on someone’s quality of life and well-being. By studying how widespread social isolation is and determining related risk factors, it is hoped that services can be improved or introduced to improve people’s lives.

Your participation in this survey is completely voluntary. Your responses will not affect the services you receive. If you are helping someone to complete the survey, please make sure you are providing their responses and not your own. 

 
All responses provided are anonymous and will be reported in an aggregated manner. Any questions regarding this survey can be sent to Oresp@dhs.nj.gov.

Thank you for your participation.

 

Watch & Follow the Paralympics

On 29 July 1948, the day of the Opening Ceremony of the London 1948 Olympic Games, Dr. Guttmann organized the first competition for wheelchair athletes which he named the Stoke Mandeville Games, a milestone in Paralympic history. They involved 16 injured servicemen and women who took part in archery.

The Stoke Mandeville Games later became the Paralympic Games which first took place in Rome, Italy, in 1960 featuring 400 athletes from 23 countries. Since then they have taken place every four years.

In 1976 the first Winter Games in Paralympics history were held in Sweden, and as with the Summer Games, have taken place every four years, and include a Paralympics Opening Ceremony and Paralympics Closing Ceremony.

Since the Summer Games of Seoul, Korea in 1988 and the Winter Games in Albertville, France in 1992 the Games have also taken part in the same cities and venues as the Olympics due to an agreement between the IPC and IOC.

Everything “Paralympics” can be found by clicking here.

Live video coverage and recorded coverage will be provided by NBC through its various streaming Apps.

Pushing to bring Supplemental Security Income benefits up to federal poverty level

Democratic leaders in Washington, D.C., have touted a $3.5 trillion spending package aimed at helping to fight poverty.

Yet initial drafts have not included proposed reforms to enhance Supplemental Security Income — also known as SSI — that provides benefits to elderly, blind and disabled Americans.

Still, advocates have not given up hope that the changes will make it into the package as part of ongoing negotiations.

That includes Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who in June led the reintroduction of a Senate proposal called the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act.

“SSI has been forgotten by Washington for years — I am pushing my colleagues to make sure that doesn’t happen again this time,” Brown. “I’m fighting to secure updates to the program, and this reconciliation bill is our chance to get this done.”

To read more, Click Here to View Original Article

 

Outdoor dining reopened restaurants for all — but added to barriers for disabled

Sidewalks have become more crowded with the increased popularity of outdoor dining, making it more difficult for people with disabilities to navigate the city

During D.C.’s annual Pride weekend, Katie Bruckmann and a friend joined the large crowds Saturday evening on U Street NW. Colorful decorations celebrating the LGBT+ community dotted the road and sidewalks, and shops and restaurants welcomed festive patrons who stayed home last year because of the coronavirus.

Bruckmann is a wheelchair user and part of at least 12 percent of D.C. adult residents with a mobility disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During Pride, she noticed some restaurants blocking curb cuts to create more space for outdoor dining, making it harder for her to get back on the sidewalk when she needed. When she was on the sidewalk, some of the already narrow walkways were congested with large signs.

“It was so much fun, so lively,” Bruckmann said. “But there were certain places that we would have liked to have gone to that we couldn’t. That was disappointing.”

Read more by Clicking Here

 

 

 

 

“Happy Trails, My Parting Two Cents”

“ Happy Trails to you, until we meet again,  Happy Trails to you, keep smilin’ until then.    Who cares about the clouds when we’re together? Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.  Happy Trails to you, till we meet again.

Such were the words to the theme song to the TV show, “ Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans” back in the 1950s.  And they fit for my last article in our Newsletter as Project Freedom’s Executive Director.  As of July 1, 2021, I will be retiring as ED, giving the reigns over to our own Tracee Battis.  Knowing Tracee as I do, I am confident she will do an outstanding job, and provide great leadership into the future.  And of course, Norman remains our founder, who constantly reminds us of his vision and mission—Independence.  His influence will continue on and into the future.

I must say, that I never had any idea that this would be the last place for me to end my career.  Back in 1997, I had stopped to talk with Norman about selling my accessible van thinking that it would be better to sell to someone who really needed it rather than just trading it in.  Our conversation that day led to my giving a presentation to the Board of Trustees, who offered me the job.  And as they say, the rest is history.

However, my history with the disability community really started back in 1974, when my daughter, Jennifer was born with CP.  Back then there weren’t many options for services let alone housing.  Marion and I would be involved in organizing parent support for educational opportunities, and ultimately I became involved with Norman in forming Project Freedom.  I remember Norman coming into my gas station with his Dad, and talking to me about his ideas and his vision for independence.  I joined the Board, and became the first Chairman of the Board of Trustees.  As a volunteer, we lobbied our public officials to get funds to build our first housing community in Robbinsville, called Freedom I, which opened in 1991.   Fast Forward to today, and ten projects later, we are just completing our Robbinsville Town Center project, and about to break ground on our second one in Hamilton Township, across from the Library.

I must say it has been a lot of work, not always enjoyable, but always exciting.  Finding a suitable site, getting town approvals, getting our funding, managing the construction, doing the lease-up, and hiring staff—all things that can lead you to pull your hair out.  But in the end, very worthwhile.

So, as I sadly write these words, I don’t have any regrets whatsoever.  I have been fortunate to have worked with our great staff, which keeps growing every day with our consumers, who I know treasure our housing because it makes life easier and gives them a safe, and clean environment.  I’ve also enjoyed working together with my wife Marion, for the past nine years, in a professional capacity, and really need to share my success with her.  And, of course, our Board of Trustees, who for the most part, took on the enormous risks involved, and supported our housing developments. 

So, one thing Marion and I have always done, and that follows the Holy Spirit and trust in the Lord. 

God Bless, keep well and “Happy Trails to you, until we meet again”.

 

 

“My Two Cents” – May 2021

Tenant Writes “Heartfelt Thanks” to PFI Lawrence Staff

Tim Doherty, Executive Director

It isn’t often that we get a thank you from tenants for something done by our PFI staff that has helped or affected their lives.  That is why I was surprised to get a very nice phone call from one of our Lawrence tenants, Peggy Newman, with regard to something she needed to tell me.  So, when I did get to talk to her, she very much wanted to let me know how she felt about our office staff, Robin Brown and Brianne Foley, and how they helped her cope and get through this past year with Covid and all the issues we all faced.

In Peggy’s own words, “There aren’t enough Thank you’s for me to express my thanks for all your help and kindness.  They say there are angels among us, and I am glad that I found mine.  Life’s struggles are so constant in this age, that we live in.  That’s why God has sent two beautiful angels to care for us.  Their names are Brianne and Robyn.  Thank you Jesus, for putting them in my path.  They make each day a blessing”.

Peggy is a long-time resident of our Lawrence community.  She can be seen whizzing around the complex, usually helping others by walking their dogs or running an errand for another tenant.  Peggy usually participates in our activities when we have been able to put them on and is very outgoing and sociable.  Peggy uses a power chair to get around, but like so many others, has been a prisoner in her own home, so I was glad to hear that Robyn and Brianne were able to help her during this time.

Last fall, Project Freedom recognized the work that some other organizations, such as ARM in ARM and the Jewish Family Services agency, for providing food for many of our tenants.  I know that both Robyn and Bri make those monthly distributions to all our Lawrence tenants (Rosario helps as well ) so that everyone gets something each month.  In addition, it gives them a chance to see how folks are doing; and to lend a hand if needed.  Peggy also commented about how she felt that we were all a family who cared about each other and that she felt “blessed”.

So kudos to Lawrence PFI staff; keep up the good work.

L to R: Robyn, Peggy, and Brianne