Group Home in Roseland Welcomes Four Women

June 29th, 2016

Originally printed in The Progress, June 29, 2016

Four women, Dale, Caryn, Jennifer, and Christy, are in the process of settling down into their immaculate new ranch home tucked away on a quiet suburban street in the heart of Roseland that is perfectly tailored to suit their needs.

The just-planted grass is still sparse, but shining a healthy green under the early summer sun, and the house, which was renovated in advance of the women’s move, boasts new furnishings, widened openings between rooms, an expanded bathroom, and a ramp up to the front door, to accommodate mobility issues.

“Nice decking where you can really just float on up to the front porch,” Frank Cinque, Senior Manager of Property and Housing for The Arc of Essex County, said of the ramp. He has spent nearly two years working on the purchase and development of the property.

The Arc of Essex County's, a 501c3 organization that provides services and support to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, new group home in Roseland is the organization's 26th overall in Essex County. And the layout of the home is perfectly suited to the needs of the residents.

“We were lucky to get all living space on that first floor,” Cinque said.

Essex County does not have many ranch homes, but they are important for residents with mobility issues, Cinque said.

“I like it,” Caryn, whose last name, along with her co-residents, was omitted for safety reasons, said of her now home. “It’s nice and cool in here.”

“I’m happy to move in,” Jennifer said.

The residents said that they had already met some of the neighbors, and plan to bake cookies to share.

“The girl likes chocolate chip,” Caryn said of one of her young new neighbors whom they plan to bake for.

Caryn and Jennifer said that they were looking forward to seeing their friends and having a cookout.

Living At Home

“At the end of the day, they should have the choice to have just as fulfilling a life as you or I, that’s really what it comes down to. We are here to foster that, foster independence, and give them the choice,” Lorusso said.

Lorusso is in charge of the department-wide policies, procedures, and operations relating to resident quality of life, whether they be regarding diet or clinical support, home decorations or replacement supplies.

Roseland Group Home Manager Marguline Dorcent is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the home, managing support for the women, and having fun with the residents.

“They like to watch professional wrestling and they love makeup, it’s nice to work with a bunch of ladies, they like to do things I like to do,” Dorcent said.

Dorcent takes them to the cinema, out to dinner, parties, and other events the ladies enjoy.

They have taken a liking to bowling at the nearby Funplex.

“We could make a lot of money for that,” Caryn said about the group’s bowling skills.

And since they like shopping, Dorcent plans to take them to the Short Hills Mall.

During the week, the women go to a daytime program operated by The Arc of Essex County called Community Link, where they spend time with friends.

Friendly Neighbors

Typically, communities that The Arc of Essex County has homes in are very supportive and Roseland looks to be no different.

“I’m on site during construction and I get to meet everyone in the neighborhood, people are curious, once they find out who The Arc is, they take a breath of air, and they ultimately love what we build,” Cinque said.

Cinque shared an anecdote about a home in West Orange, where a neighbor made meals for the residents.

“Initially they’ll be an open house, probably in the middle of July, we’ll invite the neighbors,” Chief Executive Officer of The Arc Linda Lucas said. “Some neighbors stay friendly with us and stay engaged with us, some don’t.”

But the reception has “generally been great,” Lucas added.

The Arc actually has a relationship with the town that predates this home—a school, Stepping Stones, in the former municipal building.

“We love the town, the mayor, John Duthie, is fabulous, his town is very supportive,” Lucas said.

Currently, The Arc is in the process of procuring a $40,000 grant from Roseland’s municipal housing trust fund. In addition to a $40,000 capital grant from the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities, and a $531,000 contribution from the Federal Home Loan Program through the Essex County Community Development Block Grant, this left The Arc with only a $40,000 balance, which it zeroed by raising money from private donors.

The Arc’s flair for raising funds is backed by a long institutional history. Seeded in 1948 by a group of supportive parents of children with disabilities, it has burgeoned into a 25 million dollar annually funded, 500-man-and-women strong organization with more than 25 residential programs, and other day services, serving 1,500 people.

“There’s a sense of community in this county.” Lucas said. “What we do here at The Arc is ensure that the community extends to the community we support."

all with intellectual and developmental disabilities, have moved into their very first home, designed with their family dynamic and support needs in mind. And Roseland officials are thrilled to have them there.

“The group home is a wonderful addition to Roseland,” Duthie said. “Their purpose is a great one.”