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Meet Beau

Beau was comfortable living at home with his loving family. His parents were mutually happy to have him around.

They originally felt there was no rush for Beau to move out as he had a fulfilling job at Employment Horizons, enjoyed bowling on Saturdays with MCARP (Morris County Adaptive Recreation Program) and had a great social life which included friends’ birthday parties. However, Beau’s parents knew in their hearts that he would eventually need a place to live where he could learn how to be more independent.

Rose House welcomed Beau in 2011 to the Independent Living Program at the Hanover Community Residence, just a few months before his 30th birthday.

“At first, it was a big adjustment because he did not want to move out of the house, but he has matured tremendously since then,” said his mother Pat. “He loves his routine, which includes going to work, doing his laundry, cooking meals and grocery shopping. He’s now the happiest he’s ever been and doing very well. I can’t think of anywhere else we would rather have him live.”

Beau still participates in all the fun activities he enjoyed prior to Rose House, especially bowling and parties, but it now includes his housemates and staff, which are like a second family. It’s also comforting to Beau that he has known many of his housemates since he was five years old as they went to the same elementary school in the area.

The Independent Living Program has provided Beau with a new sense of freedom. He enjoys scheduling his week, deciding what activities he wants to participate in. Beau takes pride in his apartment and gets along well with his new roommate, Nick. Program staff remark that his social skills have tremendously improved, especially when it comes to patience among his peers.

Beau is now more outgoing than ever. A notable achievement is his involvement in the Morris County Aktion Club, a service club for adults with disabilities. He has held a few officer positions in the organization that raises money for local and national causes. Beau is also known by Rose House staff for his great sense of humor.

When he’s not at work or engaging in activities, Beau loves to research his heritage on Ancestry.com. His family — which includes two brothers, a sister, two nieces and a nephew — is always interested to learn about their history from him.

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Meet Jennie

Jennie recently traveled more than 1,700 miles from Austin, TX to her forever home at Rose House. It was a long journey in many ways because she had dealt with substandard care for nearly her entire adult life. In the year before she moved, Jennie was often transferred around to understaffed group homes, living out of a suitcase and sleeping on air mattresses.

Although Texas is famous for southern hospitality, politeness and charm, the business-focused state isn’t ideal for people with special needs like Jennie. Group homes typically pay their staff the state minimum wage while retail stores offer around double that rate, yielding a lower quality of care.

Jennie endured additional hardship when her parents passed away, leaving her with one brother in Austin whom she saw on occasion and a sister who lived across the country. She had already lost her other brother to Lou Gehrig’s disease when she was a young adult.

Jennie’s sister Lara, who moved to New Jersey more than 30 years ago, flew to Texas every four to six weeks after their parents’ deaths to visit Jennie. Lara knew she had to move Jennie close by because she needed 24/7 supervision due to her progressing dementia. However, leaving a full-time job to provide care wasn’t an option. In addition, the current placement in Texas could be jeopardized if they discovered that Jennie could be leaving.

New Jersey’s bureaucracy added another layer of complexity, but Lara’s hard work paid off. Jennie moved into her forever home in Budd Lake, NJ in April 2023, and her quality of life has improved substantially.

“After not having steady housemates, staff and routines, it took Jennie some time to get acclimated, but I can tell she is very happy and comfortable now,” Lara said. “Every time I bring her back home after she visits me, she hugs the caregivers as soon as she walks in. She now has a sense of trust, which I’m thankful for every day.”

Lara added that she feels Jennie is safer at Rose House. “The residents are taught where the fire exits are, and there are fire drills conducted. There was no way her group home in Texas ever had a fire drill,” she explained.

Jennie is now enjoying life with her three female housemates. She loves writing, coloring, and movies, especially the Star Wars trilogy. Despite scoliosis and other physical impediments, Jennie dances anytime she hears music. She also loves looking at family photos, which serve as a positive anchor for her memory.

Lara lives just a half hour away. She picks Jennie up every Sunday night to have dinner with her family: husband Stephan, daughters Melinda, Becca, and Anna, aged 21, 23, and 24, respectively, and their dog Maia (pictured). After a tumultuous few years, Jennie finally has a sense of stability and family.

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Meet Jesse

His upbeat and positive attitude inspires everyone around him. And Jesse displays a “thumbs up” in almost every photo he appears in. Here’s how the Rose House’s “goodest guy,” as he’s known by friends and family, beat the odds to find the most suitable forever home for his unique needs.

As with any parent of a kid with developmental disabilities, finding a proper home setting took tremendous patience and involved a lot of emotion. On the advice of Jesse’s special needs attorney and advocate, Jesse entered the DDD (Division of Developmental Disabilities) “system” at age 3, but it wasn’t until age 20 when a first opportunity for a group home finally became available.

Although that first group home setting wasn’t ideal, Jesse’s mom and dad understood that if they didn’t accept the placement, Jesse would move way back down the priority list. So, after much soul searching, they followed their attorney’s advice.

And as their attorney had promised them, “things” would indeed get better.

In 2011, Jesse’s parents met with Rose House Founder Mark Kramer, who found them a placement in the Independent Living Program at the Hanover Apartments in Cedar Knolls, NJ. Jesse lived there happily for years until he eventually moved to the Alison House nearby with housemates even more suited for him.

Jesse now lives in the new Glencove Group Home in Morris Plains, NJ, which is a nearly perfect setting as his three new housemates share similar personalities and abilities with him. The Glencove Group Home enables Jesse to help prepare meals, load the dishwasher, exercise in his home gym and go for walks in the beautiful neighborhood.

“Rose House has made all the difference in the world,” said his mother Louise. “Jesse has become family and is friendly with everyone. From day one, he had felt like it was his home away from home, and the transition to Glencove was easy because he was familiar with the staff.”

Jesse’s naturally mechanical mind and need for order is also perfect for his job at GreenVision, a program where individuals with Autism properly dismantle and recycle unwanted electronics. “Jesse can take apart a laptop computer in a matter of minutes,” his father Teddy explained. “He puts all the little pieces of copper and silver and screws into appropriate compartments. He does it standing up all day, never tires of it and he loves being there. They tell us that he’s one of the most highly productive employees.”

Jesse’s two favorite hobbies (after eating) had been bowling and swimming but everything changed as of 2021. As a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and a need to find some fresh new activities to keep Jesse stimulated, his parents and Jesse discovered Legos. Looking at the 100+ page instruction manuals, there was a concern that the Lego models would be too difficult. But much to everyone’s surprise, the complicated drawings were exactly what allowed Jesse to master it. He relates to the diagrams, and the lack of words is right up his alley. To date, he has built over 30 models, many of which require over 4,000 puzzle parts and take weeks to complete.

Louise, Teddy and Jesse’s step-father Frank are big supporters of Rose House’s annual “Day of Dreams” golf event each year. Louise volunteers throughout the event, signing in golfers all morning and then selling raffle tickets during the luncheon. Frank and Teddy are also instrumental in the event’s success as they recruit many foursomes from the Upper Montclair Country Club.

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Meet Ted

Rose House residents and staff members often call Ted the “president” or “mayor” because he enjoys meeting and greeting visitors, and helping those around him. He loves to feel needed and valued for his contributions.

Ted’s positive and outgoing demeanor was influenced by a close relationship with his parents, three brothers and a sister on Long Island. The family enjoyed camping and educational trips, such as museums, zoos and historical sites. When he was old enough, Ted’s parents exposed him to a variety of cultures by traveling with him overseas and to many U.S. states.

After graduating from the Carman Road School, Ted worked at a United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) workshop, where he loved his packaging and labeling career. The facility also provided training and medical services to the disabled, and because Ted had a great memory for locations and directions, he was sometimes asked to serve as a transporter or guide for people who needed their wheelchairs pushed to various appointments.

As Ted’s parents got older, the family decided to move them all from Long Island to Morris Plains, New Jersey. There they could be closer to his sister Laura and her family. Ted and his mom moved into a little ranch house in Cedar Knolls, and he got a great new job at Employment Horizons (EH).

Over time, it became important for Ted to find a residence of his own, and luckily in February 2016, a spot opened up at Rose House’s Independent Living Program at the Hanover Apartments. The apartments are located right down the street from EH, and many of his co-workers were already living there.

“Moving to the Rose House gave Ted the chance to learn to think and act for himself,” Laura explained. “Most importantly, it gave him the chance to be part of and live with a big, busy and funny family again. He loves the affection and togetherness.”

After more than seven years at the Hanover Apartment’s Independent Living Program, Ted now resides at the Glencove Group Home in Morris Plains. He was able to keep his job at Employment Horizons and remain close to his original housemates.

Ted loves getting to know his new housemates as they share his interest in bowling, going to the movies and parties where he can dance and sing karaoke. He still travels, but these days it’s to spend quality time with siblings, either at their homes or at the lake house his parents owned near the Delaware River, where he can swim, kayak and help with all the chores.

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Meet Lisa

How often do you meet someone who loves their job so much that they never want to retire? Lisa is the perfect example of this rare personality.

Happily employed at the Morris County Library in Whippany since 1988, Lisa is the first smiling face to greet customers when she unlocks the door each morning. She also brings in borrowed items from the drop-off box, inspects returned CDs and has various other responsibilities that she finds fulfilling.

Although she found joy in her career, Lisa used to come home from work and live a reclusive lifestyle. She often watched TV and seldom reached out to friends for social interaction. That all changed in 2014 after moving to Rose House’s independent living apartments.

“Lisa has blossomed and is much more outgoing ever since living there,” her mother Ginny explained. “Her father and I were shocked when we went to a Rose House event and she was dancing away with everybody. Lisa is now more comfortable around people and has become quite the social butterfly. Before she wanted to be alone, but now she likes being in the spotlight.”

Although Lisa has come out of her shell and enjoys group activities with her fellow residents, she still appreciates her peace and quiet for personal activities, especially puzzle books, jigsaw puzzles, coloring and playing video games. In addition, social media has also given Lisa the freedom to be outgoing while enjoying the comforts of home. She is known as Rose House’s cheerleader, always responding to our Facebook posts with supportive comments.

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Meet Jenny

Jenny has a gift for communicating with children. She has worked at daycare centers since graduating high school, and was always adored by the preschool-aged kids that she provided care for. But who would take care of Jenny when her parents could no longer do so?

Rose House assured Jenny’s parents that she would receive the right amount of attention and learn the necessary skills to live independently.

“I certainly felt the Rose House was the best we could offer Jenny,” her mother Carol said. “It’s a safe home where she is around people who understand her and knows what she needs. Jenny is fully independent now and loves to clean her apartment and cook for herself.”

Carol asserted that Jenny has always liked performing tasks on her own, and Rose House gives her an extra boost of confidence. For example, Jenny worked at a Morristown daycare center for 21 years until it closed. After seven months of working with an employment agency and having no luck, she decided to search for a job herself on Indeed.com. Through her own hard work and dedication, Jenny landed a career as a teacher assistant at a daycare center in Parsippany, where she has been ever since!

When Jenny is not mentoring kids, she loves to watch Hallmark movies and play video games. She is also involved in crafting with her mother and selling their items each year at a local church’s fundraiser — a tradition that Jenny’s grandmother started with Carol long ago and is still going strong.

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Meet Rachel

Rachel is a living legend as Rose House’s star athlete. She has competed in the Special Olympics and other sporting events for track and field, gymnastics and ice skating, earning multiple gold medals. This includes a gold medal for being the only competitor to perform a handspring vault in 1999 at the Special Olympics World Games in Raleigh Durham North Carolina.

Watch a video of Rachel at the 2011 Essex Special Skaters Spring Show >>

While Rachel’s supportive parents enabled her to make athletic dreams come true, she still needed help reaching the finish line of independent living. That’s where Rose House came in to play.

“We made sure she went to all her activities with Special Olympics, DAWN Center for Independent Living, Morris County Adaptive Recreational Program (McARP) and others but she certainly has the opportunity to be more independent now while living at The Rose House,” said Rachel’s mother Vicki. “They’ve helped with transportation, decision making, doing her own laundry and taking responsibility for herself with food shopping, preparation of meals, and more!”

Rachel is currently keeping her athletic skills sharp by swimming up to 30 laps per session. She recently took home two gold medals in the Special Olympics New Jersey 2023 Summer Games in the sport of Bocce!

Aside from being sporty, Rachel has an interest in Art, taking virtual painting classes right from her apartment. She’s social and enjoys music and dancing at parties. In addition, Rachel also loves animals. She enjoys pet-sitting her brother’s dog and takes horseback riding lessons. In fact, Rachel recently won two awards, first place and participation, from the Schooling Show at Seaton Hackney Stables! (pictured above) She loves spending time with her family at home and on outings as well as game night and weekend activities with her friends at Rose House.

Although Rachel knows how to have fun, she’s also a hard worker. She recently has packaged for Tiffany’s and has helped wiring for Cablevision at Employment Horizons in Cedar Knolls.

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Meet Billy

Billy is Rose House’s resident DJ, providing entertainment for the organization’s events. He also has a passion for dancing.

Prior to the Hanover Apartments, Billy was living in an apartment specially built for him in his parents’ home. He had his own bedroom, bathroom, office and everything else to make him comfortable. However, he was missing the most important feature: his feeling of independence.

Soon after moving to Rose House’s Hanover Apartments, his mother recognized a tremendous change in Billy. “I am so proud of what he has accomplished,” Michele said. “He takes great pride in keeping his apartment clean. He does so well with managing everyday life, which Rose House has encouraged through supervision.”

Billy stays busy working as an office clerk for MetLife. Some of his responsibilities include stocking shelves, making sure the coffee makers are stocked and keeping the conference room tidy.

When he’s not working or learning how to improve his DJ skills, Billy loves to visit family, including his niece and nephew in Connecticut. His greatest goal is learning how to fly on his own so he can visit Michele’s winter home in Florida.