Giving Back

CAU Prom Dazzles: A Bright Night For Individuals With Different Abilities

Credits: Fran Sullivan
Rolando Zorrilla of CAU and Gary Rubin, event organizer Credits: Fran Sullivan

ELIZABETH, NJ – Spring is definitely prom season, but as high school seniors get ready for their night to remember, another prom was taking place at the Peterstown Community Center, June 10.

Community Access Unlimited members put on their finest and got ready to party at the 11th Annual CAU Community Prom. “A lot of people didn’t go to their proms at school because the teachers push them to the side,” said Gary Rubin, president of Helping Hands Self-Advocacy Group , the prom’s organizer, and a member of CAU. “They were labeled out because they had a disability. So I said to my friends, ‘We will do something here so you will feel like you have something in your life.’”

That something included dinner, dancing, and plenty of prom pictures, posed against a backdrop. This popular event draws about 100 guests each year, including members of other community groups. “It’s open to the community, so people who have never been to a prom can come,” said Rubin.

Sign Up for E-News

The prom is an opportunity to meet new people, get re-acquainted with old friends, and a special evening.

“This event is more meaningful because they come together as a group,” said Rolando Zorrilla, assistant executive director of developmental disabilities services at CAU. “Everyone is welcome.”

Helping Hands, which is made up of CAU members, chose the menu, the location, and the DJ, who is also a CAU member. The group was established in 1984 and seeks to make life better for the individuals they serve, according to Rubin. In 2003, CAU members created their own company, Jump Start Self-Advocacy, LLC, which runs workshops such as How to Get Involved in Your Community and Labels are for Soup Cans. Rubin and group members have also traveled to Washington to advocate for their group.

Community Access Unlimited supports people with special needs in achieving real lives in the community.  It provides support and gives a voice to adults and youth who traditionally have little support and no voice in society and helps people with housing, life skills, employment, money management, socialization and civic activities.  CAU also supports opportunities for advocacy through training in assertiveness, decision-making and civil rights and serves more than 5,000 individuals each year. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


National Weather Service Issues Heat Advisory Through 6 p.m. Tuesday July 17

July 16, 2018

NEW YORK, NY, - The National Weather Service issued a 'Heat Advisory' this morning for Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Union and Hudson Counties in New Jersey. The heat advisory will remain in effect from noon Monday July 16 until 6 p.m. Tuesday July 17.

Extreme heat can cause illness and death among at- risk population who cannot stay cool. The heat and humidity may cause heat stress during ...

Roselle Man Charged with Multiple Counts of Animal Cruelty After Search Finds Over 40 Dogs Living in Squalor

July 11, 2018

ROSELLE, NJ - Charges have been filed on the Roselle man found with more than 40 dogs living in severely unsanitary and inhumane living conditions in his home last month said acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan.

Authorities say, Evelio J. Calderon, 40, is charged with than 30 criminal offenses that include two 3rd-degree animal cruelty offenses, 14 counts of 4th-degree animal ...

Cranford Jaycees Annual Golf Outing Raises Money For Community

July 18, 2018

CRANFORD - The Township of Cranford Junior Chamber of Commerce (“Jaycees”) held their 12th Annual Golf Outing on Friday, June 22, 2018, at the Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth. The outing raised $8,000.00 which will benefit two worthy community organizations, the Cranford Baseball and Softball League Inc. and the Union County Educational Services Commission ...

"Tired of cronyism? Yeah, us too!"

July 19, 2018

The Union County Freeholders’ decision to appoint State Senator and newly-elected Union County Democratic Chairman, Nick Scutari’s chief of staff, Ed Oatman as County Manager smelled of corruption from the start. To place a political consultant like Oatman in the role of overseeing 2,800 employees and running the day-to-day operations of the $500 million county budget suggests ...

Step Up and Build a Stronger Union County

July 20, 2018

Union County residents who are seeking a meaningful, high-impact way to volunteer in their community can sign up as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties.

The organization is currently seeking volunteer mentors for its best-known program, Community Based Mentoring. The program involves individual mentoring with a local child or teen, age 6 to 18, with a ...