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” — April 2021

Tim Doherty, Executive Director

Last month, in the midst of leasing up our new “ Freedom Village at Town Center” apartment complex, we welcomed Robbinsville mayor David Fried to our community to celebrate a special achievement.  It was to honor and recognize a Robbinsville Freshman, Zoya Jadhav, for winning second place in a Statewide Essay contest.  For her achievement, Zoya won a $ 300 cash prize but donated half of her winnings to Project Freedom, which is really the big part of this story.

As many of you know, Mayor Fried is very proud of his town, Robbinsville, and especially proud when his students from the town, achieve success, and wanted to recognize Zoya for her achievement.  Since she wanted to donate half her award to Project Freedom, he reached out to us, to see if we could host a small gathering to recognize her and give her a Town citation.  Of course we said yes, and so staff prepared some light refreshment and welcomed the mayor, Zoya and her family to our new Community Center.  What also made that day special was that it was Zoya’s 15th birthday. 

It was quite evident to me, in talking to Zoya’s family that they are special people and that Mom and Dad are raising their children to very high standards.  When I asked Zoya what she would like to do with her life, she said that she wanted to become a doctor.  Indeed the story that she wrote, was about a young person who was sick with the Covit 19 virus, and ended up in the hospital.  There, she encounters another child, Charlie, who is chatty and annoying at first, but then also comes down with the illness.  They are now both struggling to hold on and breathe, and form a bond and friendship as they fight this terrible disease.

Her story is fictional yet has a basis in reality for many of those folks who have suffered with this terrible pandemic.  The loneliness, the separation from family, the soreness of having an IV in your arm and the sounds of those hospital monitoring machines, all created a vivid picture of her torture.  Her story is told, one paragraph at a time, with the headings of “ One. Two “ which I think was to mimic the rhythm of those hospital sounds. Yet it is a story of friendship that will ultimately win out. 

The title of her story is “Amity Amidst a Crisis” which means friendship during a crisis, and becomes the ultimate relationship the two sick children forge as they fight to breathe.  So although fictional, her point here is that during times of crisis or major life-changing conditions, we as human beings put aside our petty differences and come together to survive.  We respond to each other and will help each other to overcome those challenges to survive and make a better life.  What a mature thing for a 15-year old student to understand and capture in a story.  The  essay can be found on our website  by Clicking Here

Looks to me that Zoya has a talent and bright future as a writer if that doctor thing doesn’t work out. I think many of us “Adults” could learn a thing or two from her.   Happy Birthday, Zoya.