What Do We Offer as a Catholic Agency and what do our residents offer to others?
The mission statement of the Department for Persons with Disabilities states that the members will be "fully aware of their responsibility to deliver quality services which are based upon professional expertise as well as compassion and love." This is the goal, the responsibility, the privilege of all involved in this very special ministry.
Catholic Adult Religious Education (C.A.R.E. Program)
One evening each month, a group of volunteers offer an outstanding Special Religious Education/Prayer Program know as C.A.R.E. (Catholic Adult Religious Education) at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Oak Ridge. The beautiful community of faith was begun in 1989 and is an opportunity for adults with disabilities to come together to s hare their faith and the important things in their lives through discussion, prayer, song and social time. Each evening has a basic structure, but each is also different based on the needs of the members and/or the season of the Church year. These sessions are ecumenical programs of spiritual enrichment and are open to people living in our group homes and supervised apartments as well as people living at home with their families or in group homes of other agencies. The two dedicated professionals who facilitate the program are experienced working with people with various disabilities and they work closely with the other volunteers in planning each session. Because of the time, labor and love that goes into each meeting, the sessions become a highlight of the month for those who attend. A number of high school students have joined as aides as part of their Confirmation service and some have continued to participate long after they have completed their requirements. These young people have added much enthusiasm and energy to the program while personally benefiting from their experiences with the members who participated. Members experience and share God's love for them and grow in their appreciation of other people in their lives.
Bible Discussions in our homes
Three of our volunteers meet with different groups of interested people one evening each month for Bible Discussion. They read Scripture, discuss and apply God's message to their lives. Music is enjoyed by the people participating in these sharings. They all look forward to these meetings because they are so spiritually enriching. In the summer months, we have had Summer Seminars of Spirituality offered by individuals in training in the Diocesan Diaconate Program. Sessions have been held in different locations and were enjoyed and appreciated by people living in the group homes and apartment programs. These projects are mutually enriching and enjoyable.
Additional Spiritual OpportunitiesMany of the residents attend their parish church regularly for Mass on the weekends and for special celebrations throughout the year. Several serve in the Ministry of Welcome in their churches and others have become Knights of Columbus and attend regular meetings and enjoy the fellowship of the other Knights. These men have an opportunity to participate in the charitable work of the Knights of Columbus. Residents who wish to praise God in another denomination are encouraged to do so and are provided transportation by their staff.
Some of our residents are involved in spirituality/social groups in their local parishes. People from our supervised apartments in Butler are very active in the Special Needs Ministry of St. Mary Parish in Pompton Lakes. They participate in prayer services, art classes, bowling and dinners at a local restaurant. They also go with the group to ball games and plays.
Bringing Sunshine to Others
Many of the residents visit nursing homes on a regular basis and bring their smiles and joy to people who look forward to their visits. Some visit our former residents who because of health issues are no longer able to live in our group homes but who are still part of our Department Family. Visiting these patients, talking with them, praying for them, are all encouraged in the people who live in our homes.
Volunteer Program -"PEOPLE NEED FRIENDS"
"PEOPLE NEED FRIENDS" has several different components, but all volunteers add so much to the Department and to their friend's lives. Many volunteers are matched with an individual friend and they do things together such as go to Mass, go out to eat, movies, shopping, sporting events, rides, exercise, all the things that all friends enjoy doing together. Some volunteers are general friends and come to the home for crafts, games, sing-a-longs, Bible Discussions, many different activities enjoyed by several people or all in the home. Another group of volunteers participate in the C.A.R.E. program of spirituality. We also have volunteers who help at the Adult Training Center in Dover and also help at ceramic sales and Center Socials. The Board of Trustees for the Department is made up of volunteers with different areas of expertise from the community. The Director of Human Resources takes requests from the people themselves for a friend or from Directors of the homes and then advertises to find someone to match with that person. The program is made up of individual volunteers, volunteer couples and volunteers and their families. The program was begun in 1990 and today there are about 95 members of "PEOPLE NEED FRIENDS"
For more information : Call (973) 406-1103 or e-mail