Get Inspired - A Lifetime with The Manfra's
March 21st, 2016
In the past 40 years, a lot has changed for Joe Manfra. But one thing has remained the same – The Arc of Essex County has been a constant in his life. Joe and his family were first introduced to The Arc more than 40 years ago. Since then, Joe has attended nearly every program offered through The Arc including education, recreation and camp, day programs, respite, and, as of two years ago, he became a resident in one of The Arc’s group homes.
The youngest of eight kids, Joe lived at home with his parents most of his life. After his mother passed away and his father’s health began to decline, The Arc of Essex County’s Day Program staff began to notice that Joe was struggling. He started missing program two to three times a week. When he did attend, he was often late or was picked up early. Kathy and Larry, Joe’s legal guardians, decided to make the call their parents never could. A room was open at The Arc of Essex County’s Belleville group home.
“Kathy, Cheryl, and I went to the group home probably saying to ourselves, ‘we’re not going to accept this,’” remembered Larry. “But once we met Joe Paris [the group home manager], it all just clicked. It started with Joe going for dinner, then a weekend, then it was jump on it, pull the trigger, and we did.”
Since moving into the group home, Joe has lost 50 pounds, he is taking better care of his hygiene, he eats right, and he has a better sleeping pattern. His family attributes his happiness to the love and care provided by The Arc family, the social activities available to him, and to being surrounded by his peers.
“Whatever our expectations were, the group home blew them away,” said Larry. “People in our old neighborhood ask me all the time ‘how’s Joe doing.’ I tell them, the best he’s ever been.”
“Life’s only getting better for Joe with The Arc of Essex County. I don’t know what more we could ask for, said Larry. “If nothing changed, I would be happy for the rest of my life.”