JESPY House, an agency that supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. Clients’ accomplishments include gainful employment, self-advocacy, life-skills development, and Special Olympics medal wins.
“Our 45-year milestone solidifies that, through our specialized programs and services, JESPY is truly filling a need,” Audrey Winkler, JESPY’s executive director, said. “Our client accomplishments are glowing examples of what can be achieved when individuals with I/DD are fully supported.”
Established in South Orange in 1978, JESPY House opened with four clients and three staffers. Since that time, the nonprofit has grown to 260 clients and nearly 100 employees. In addition, 12 couples have gotten married, and many clients live in community settings or one of JESPY’s residential houses, including an Aging in Place residence.
As a result of participation in JESPY programming, JESPY clients are successfully employed at companies including Prudential, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walgreens, Stop & Shop, ShopRite, Miti Miti restaurant, and Five Guys. Clients have advocated successfully for affordable housing and received individual recognition awards from NJACP (New Jersey Association of Community Providers), NJ APSE (Association of Persons in Supported Employment), and Special Olympics NJ.
Last summer, four clients traveled to Orlando to compete in the 2022 National Special Olympics USA Games, where they won gold medals in several sports. In 2019, client Jane C. won medals at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.
JESPY clients enjoy contributing to and living in the South Orange community — volunteering in support of community initiatives, shopping locally for food and personal items, and paying for recreation, entertainment, groceries, restaurant meals, transportation, and other items that total more than $3.5 million annually.
“We are excited about what the future holds for our clients and for JESPY as an organization,” Ms. Winkler said. “We are committed to helping our clients do their best. Continuing to provide top quality services, programs, and facilities where they can excel is a big part of that equation.”
To learn more about JESPY, go to jespy.org.