The Department for Persons with Disabilities (DPD) is a nonprofit, Catholic Charities Agency in the Diocese of Paterson. DPD provides residential support for 78 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through 10 group homes and 2 supervised apartments throughout Passaic, Morris and Sussex County. DPD also provides vocational training, support coordination services for individuals who live in the community, pastoral care and recreational activities. There are over 8,000 people on a waiting list to get into programs like those operated by DPD.
DPD’s programs operate 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, including Christmas Day and Near Year’s Eve.
“Throughout the Christmas season, the DPD staff team has worked tirelessly to provide loving care for the people who live in our group homes and supervised apartments. Our over 100 volunteers make a difference by contributing their time to bring smiles to the people in our programs. In addition, hundreds of generous donors have made individual contributions and/or have purchased Christmas gifts for the people who we serve. It truly is the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ for our Family,” said DPD Executive Director, Scott Milliken.
Throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas, numerous volunteers have donated their time to DPD in the following ways:
- Parishioners from Saint John Vianney Parish (Stockholm) purchased and gift wrapped presents for each of DPD’s 78 residents. This is the 15th year the parish has participated in their “Giving Tree” program, under the leadership of pastor, Father Matthew Twiggs.
- General Judson Kilpatrick #5563 (Vernon), Marquette #588 (Sparta), St. Therese #6320 (Succasunna), Joseph F. Lamb #5510 (Jefferson Township) and St. Michaels #3665 (Netcong) Knights of Columbus Councils purchased, gift wrapped and held gift-giving celebrations for 7 of DPD’s residential programs.
- The Racz, Norz, Daly, and Bohn Families purchased, gift wrapped and presented gifts to all of the people who live at DPD at the agencies’ Christmas Party on December 3rd.
- The Hanson Family of Wycoff and several of their friends, purchased gifts for all of the individuals who live at Barnet House (Pompton Lakes). Seven years ago, these families started this tradition instead of exchanging gifts with each other.
- People Need Friends Volunteer Pamela Graham and the Jefferson Township Junior Women’s Club donated presents and candy for Gruenert Center’s Santa visit.
- 130 generous donors have made individual contributions to DPD’s Happiness Tree Fund (www.dpd.org/tree) raising over $15,000 to date for the agency.
- Numerous individuals made contributions to the Beacon’s Annual Christmas Sharing Fund to purchase needed items in several group homes.
- DPD sold hundreds of boxes of Christmas cards. The boxes were assembled by individuals with disabilities and two of the card covers were designed by people who work at Gruenert Center.
- Eleven individuals from Gruenert Center molded, painted and hand-crafted a ceramic Nativity Set. An online auction was held two weeks prior to Christmas for this set, which sold for $200.
- DPD’s Fight for the Right Community Service Group, led by volunteers Ana Philhower and Jenn Minervino hosted a Christmas party for the group members to celebrate their many acts of kindness throughout the year. In 2016, the group participated in police appreciation initiatives, pet product drives, provided support for pregnant mothers in shelters and gave back to the poor and sick.
- St. Mary’s Help of Christians School (Paterson) wrote and mailed Christmas cards to all of individuals who live in DPD’s programs.
- College Students from the Center of Faithjustice.org under the leadership of Tara Hank, created Christmas decorations for each of DPD’s Programs.
- People Need Friends Volunteer Nina Androski provided materials and instructions for Barnet House (Pompton Lakes) residents to create Christmas wreaths.
- The Jefferson Township High School Cheerleaders and the St. Thomas the Apostle Children’s Choir caroled with the individuals who live in DPD’s programs.
- Numerous volunteers brought people who live at DPD to their homes for Christmas dinner and celebration.
“It is very uplifting to give back to the DPD Family during the Christmas Season. Over a dozen members of our Knights Council had the great opportunity to visit four of DPD’s group homes in Jefferson Township and present 26 individuals with Christmas gifts. It was a great way to see the immense difference that our contributions and presents made,” said John Higgins, member of the General Judson Kilpatrick Council Knights of Columbus from Vernon.
“Many of the individuals who live in our programs do not have family members to spend the Christmas Season with. The volunteers and generous donors who contributed to DPD this Christmas Season made an immeasurable impact on the lives of the DPD Family. They truly brightened the Christmas Season for us all and we can’t thank them enough for their support,” said DPD Development Director Chris Brancato.
To learn more about DPD please visit www.dpd.org or www.facebook.com/dpdcc.