On Sunday, February 21st we held our 46th Annual Murray House Dinner Dance at the Brownstone in Paterson. 375 people attended this event, including nearly all of the individuals who live in our programs.
Murray House is one of our 12 residential programs located in Clifton. Murray House is the longest running group home in the state of New Jersey serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Six people call this house "home". Murray House was opened in 1971 in Patterson and was a pioneer program in the State of New Jersey. The home is named after Jimmy Murray. Jimmy was a vibrant young man with disabilities who passed away at the age of 18, right around the time when this program was built. Jimmy's siblings, nieces, nephews and extended family members continue to stay active with our agency after all of these years.
Our Murray House Dinner Dance is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year. It is a beautiful night to recognize the people who we serve and the very important work that we do.
The night kicked off with special recognition of Dr. Lawrence Barnet and Barnet House, which celebrated 10 years of service earlier in the year. Dr. Barnet was our Agency Doctor for over 35 years. Sadly, Dr. Barnet passed away in April of 2015, but his memory lives on through the home and the beautiful people who reside within it.
We also recognized our new program, Giuliano House, which opened in December. The first 2 residents of Giuliano House, Patti and Bruce were in attendance and were introduced to the crowd. This program was made possible through funds raised on our Building for the Future Capital Campaign. This year, we honored Bruce DeMolli, as the Person of the Year. Bruce is the State Deputy of the New Jersey Knights of Columbus. Bruce is a member of DPD’s volunteer Board of Trustees. Through Bruce's effort, the Knights of Columbus in the Paterson Federation and beyond have been more involved with our organization than ever before. Bruce was presented with his award by Bob Hatler who is the State Secretary of the NJ Knights of Columbus.
Ryan Vreeland was honored as our Employee of the Year. "Ryan became an angel of mercy at a time and in a way he could never have anticipated. It wasn’t long after he began working at the Wallace house when Frank, a terminally ill, longtime resident of DPD, was moved to Wallace House. During that last week of his life, Ryan sat by his bedside, talked and comforted him. And Ryan handled it all with grace and poise far beyond his years. Truly Ryan was an angel of mercy," said Scott Milliken, DPD’s Executive Director. Scott presented the award to Ryan with Frank’s family.
"For many, the best part of the evening is the presentation of the Frank X. Graves Award and the Jim and Kit Murray Outstanding Achievement Awards, to the individuals who live in our programs", said Chris Brancato DPD Development Director. The awards are named after Jim and Kit Murray honor of the late Patriarch and Matriarch of the Murray Family. Richie from Columbus House, Susan from Kelleher Apartments, Mark from Basile Apartments and Janet from Murray House received the highly anticipated awards.
Debbie Hunter, from Finnegan House, was presented with the Frank X. Graves award given in honor of the late mayor from Paterson. "I am very proud! I worked hard," said Debbie as she happily accepted the award, surrounded by her family and friends. Debbie will go on to be DPD’s representative at the New Jersey Association of Community Providers (NJACP) Community STARS Dinner in April.
"We would like to thank everyone who made this beautiful evening possible", said Mr. Milliken. "Our staff team did an exceptional job assuring that the residents of DPD had a great time. Tommy Manzo and the Brownstone provided wonderful service and delicious food. Our sponsors and donors helped raise needed funds for the DPD and covered the cost of all of our residents to attend. We can’t thank our Person of the Year, Bruce DeMolli, Bishop Serratelli and the Chancery of the Diocese of Paterson enough for their support. Finally, we could not have made the evening a success without the Murray Family. For 50 years they have made a difference in the lives of adults with special needs. The Murray Family is truly part of the DPD Family."