It happens every year. Sometime soon after Thanksgiving, the holiday spirit sets in. After all, there is much to be grateful for! Working together, the staff at the Lincoln Park group home, came up with the idea of hosing a holiday and New Year’s party. Even better, this would be a celebration for the residents of all the northern New Jersey homes. Now, how to find a venue for so many people? And how to pay for the food, decorations, and all? Sakina Gillespie did not let any of these concerns stop her.
Embracing the Challenge
“I volunteer for everything,” says Sakina. She reached out, calling around. The dinner was pot luck; each house prepared an entrée or a desert. Ever grateful for the dedication of the Advancing Residential Services staff, parents of the residents donated additional food or supplies. “Parents want to help out, especially to the staff who care for their sons and daughters. The City of Paterson donated the large room at the Public Library. Local businesses, notably Urbane Swank of nearby Haledon, donated plates, cups, and decorations. “Everybody participated,” says Sakina. “Everybody came through.”
Sakina is grateful for all the direct-support staff and managers, including those of the Supported Living program, Georgia Brown (Senior Residential Coordinator) and Chasity Gordon-Frasier (Manager). Raquel Woolley (Manager, Lincoln Park) provided the speakers for the music and Audrey Billie (Manager, Beverwyck) supplied the ice. “Great thanks to the Northern residential team for putting together a great holiday party for the consumers,” said Paul Ronollo, Director of Residential Services. “Great food. Great music. And great spirit.” Added Paul, “Everyone had a wonderful time.”
Even after the residents left the party, acts of giving continued. Two direct-support professionals, Tiara Toney and Brunette Michel, gathered the leftover food, which was still warm, and offered it to homeless people near the library. All this, says Sakina. “That’s what it’s about.”