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This Local Nonprofit Provides Support for Adults With Special Needs

by Jordan and Joelle Hernandez
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Nearly 13% of young people aged 6-21 in New Jersey receive federal special education support. However, once this group of children reaches the age of 21, they experience what is known as ‘falling off the cliff’ — as many federally funded resources are no longer available. Enter Home Sweet Hudson, a local non-profit founded by long-time Hudson County resident David Tornabene, whose mission is to support low-income families who have adults with special needs. We had a chance to connect with David to learn more about the needs in this community, the role Home Sweet Hudson plays in supporting the community, and how others can get involved. Read on to learn more about the work of Home Sweet Hudson and how David and his team are working to provide resources for families in Hoboken and the surrounding Hudson County areas.

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The Journey to Home Sweet Hoboken

David Tornabene is a long-time resident of Hudson County, more specifically, Hoboken and Jersey City. A few years ago, David was approached by the family of a 21-year-old woman with special needs whose resources were set to expire. “A family in Hoboken who knew I was very involved in the community came to me and asked if I could help their daughter, who was turning 21. They felt like they were falling off a cliff with the transition to state benefits and her regular bus going away,” he told The Hoboken Girl.

“As I researched and talked to families, I realized that it is a huge problem and that I should create an organization that could help the families [in a similar situation].” David’s background in the non-profit space gave him the skills and knowledge to start Home Sweet Hudson. He was the president of the Jubilee Center starting in 2009 and, from then, continued to work with local organizations, including Mile Square Theatre and All Saints Church. David hopes to gather a community of volunteers and supporters who can support the mission of Home Sweet Hudson.

Read More: Hudson County CASA: A Non-Profit Dedicated to Children in Foster Care

Supporting The Community

Home Sweet Hudson has supported numerous families even in the short time since starting in 2021. Resources like wheelchairs, guardianship, and assessments are invaluable to families in this community. “We were recently able to help a 20-year-old man with Autism and his mom. He has been at home and regressing for several years after leaving high school with no programming. We were able to help get guardianship, an assessment, NJ Department of Developmental Disability funding, and entrance to a program in Hoboken in the fall,” David shared. He explained how these resources will support the man’s unique needs. “They’ll help him with life skills, walking around town without fear, and using his artistic skills.”

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Home Sweet Hudson was also able to help two residents become more mobile and independent with various resources. “For another mom, we were able to get a wheelchair for her injured nonverbal autistic son, help with his application to the state and guardianship, and a portable computer to use for online applications and support,” he shared. He continued, “we sourced a sophisticated electric chair for a low-income high schooler who needs constant wheelchair assistance.”

David noticed that many families in need of help are single-parent households, making consolidating resources necessary for parents, caregivers, and agency service providers. Resources are needed for all aspects of the individual’s life, from financial resources and transportation to mentorship and paperwork assistance.

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“Our team is dedicated to supporting these families. We provide inclusive aid by helping access services, mentoring, engaging with the community, advocating, and consolidating resources for parents and caregivers,” David shared.

Getting Involved

Home Sweet Hudson is run exclusively by David and a small group of volunteers. Growing the team would allow Home Sweet Hudson to help more families. He has dreams of becoming a larger entity that could provide resources to all families in need.

“I’d like to help more parents. Hundreds [of families] in Hudson County are heading for this “cliff,” and many don’t realize it. I am not helping enough families with how small I am,” he shared.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Having more volunteers would allow for more programming, increased awareness, and more opportunities to connect with political leaders who could make policy changes to help these families. David says the organization’s immediate need is for dedicated volunteers who could spend time with individuals with special needs to give caregivers respite.

Administrative tasks are also a large burden to Home Sweet Hudson right now, making volunteers interested in helping with project management and back-end support a necessity. Finally, volunteers with special skills or services are needed for legal paperwork review, serving as court advocates, and application support.

Those interested in becoming a volunteer can connect with Home Sweet Hudson by emailing the team at [email protected] or calling the office at 201-932-0100.

Financial support is always welcome. Donations can be made on the Home Sweet Hudson site here. David and his team have lots planned for the coming months and volunteers will make this possible.

See More: Ongoing Volunteer Opportunities in Essex County

Fundraising Night

Home Sweet Hudson is hosting a comedy night fundraiser on Thursday, June 20th at Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken. The night promises to be fun-filled with New York City-based comedians and Hoboken’s Jeff Kreisler hosting. The event will kick off at 7PM and tickets are $100. Tickets include show admission, soft drinks, and a Barbès Restaurant discount card for the first attendees. To purchase a ticket to support the non-profit, click here.

Home Sweet Hudson is doing its part in making a community feel welcome and supported. David’s vision and dedication to special needs families, along with the help of volunteers and supporters, will increase the quality of life for many. For more information, head to HomeSweetHudsonProject.org.

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