Giving Back

TCI Employee Earns Passaic County Champions of Disabilities Award

Mary Laumbach-Perezf accepts the 2015 Passaic County Champions of Disabilities Award for her work with low income families who have children with disabilities.

LIVINGSTON, NJ - Mary Laumbach-Perez, an employee of The Children’s Institute (TCI) in Livingston, was presented with the 2015 Passaic County Champions of Disabilities Award for spearheading and creating programs that recognize the potential of individuals with disabilities. The award was presented by the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders on June 17.

“It was nice to be recognized for the work I am doing with low income populations, said Laumbach-Perez, a West Milford resident. “Eventually, I’d like to start a foundation that will financially assist low income special needs families to receive appropriate educational evaluations, allowing them to receive the best and least restrictive education for their children.” 

She added, “My mantra has always been Martin Luther King’s statement, ‘Our lives begin to end on the day we become silent about things that matter.’"  

Sign Up for E-News

“We are so fortunate to have employees like Mary,” said TCI Executive Director Dr. Bruce Ettinger. “She is truly dedicated to ensuring that all individuals with special needs have a place in the community and receive the best education and services available.”

When Laumbach-Perez is not at her full-time job at TCI, working with adults on the autism spectrum, she’s volunteering her time to help low income families navigate the state’s bureaucratic regulations that govern the use of special educational services.

Lack of understanding by families of the regulations and their rights often result in keeping their loved ones from receiving the special services to equalize their educational experience and to live productive lives in the community, according to Laumbach-Perez.

With referrals coming largely through word of mouth, as a volunteer advocate Mary has assisted over 100 low income families from Bergen, Passaic and Morris county school districts, many of them single family households. She assists them in reviewing Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs) and Americans with Disabilities Act 504 plans, teaches families advocacy skills, and assists with filing state complaints and due process, often securing pro-bono legal advocates for families when needed to ensure local districts’ adherence to NJ Administrative Code in Special Education.

Laumbach-Perez, an employee of TCI for over six years, said she has a deep understanding of how appropriate education and services can positively impact the lives of individuals with special needs and their families. In her work at TCI, first as a job coach and then as the Assistant Director of the Center for Independence (CFI), a program for adults on the autism spectrum located in Livingston, Laumbach-Perez has helped individuals with autism become more self-sufficient and productively engaged in community life. She oversees CFI’s work assisting clients with vocational and job skills, self-advocacy skills, social and relationship skills and skills for independent community living.

Given the spectrum of services CFI provides, it concerned Laumbach-Perez to see so many other people with a wide variety of special needs who were not aware of what their rights were regarding accommodations. Her volunteer effort to help low income families get needed services for their special needs children was her response.

Laumbach-Perez is also the co-founder of NJ Auditory Processing Disorders Awareness Coalition and founded the West Milford Parents for Successful Students. She has partnered with other professionals to offer special education workshops throughout the state geared towards parents of special needs students. At the November 2015 New Jersey Educators Association (NJEA) Conference, she will be co-presenting a workshop, "Twice Exceptional Students," with TCI employee Randy Palmer, who has also won several awards for his work with technology and special needs students.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Local Children Invited to Register for Essex County Summer Camps

February 19, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Children of all ages are invited to participate in spring and summer camp opportunities at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, Essex County Codey Arena and the Essex County Environmental Center.

The zoo has several weeklong camp adventures that will introduce children to the extraordinary world of animals, nature and science. Campers and their parents/guardians are ...

How Do I Decide Which College to Attend?

Now that college acceptances are rolling in, how do I decide which to attend?

Your hard work in high school has paid off. You took your SAT/ACT exams, got the best grades you could, and filled out as many applications as you needed to. Acceptance letters are starting to come in and you need to make a decision on where you will go in the fall. It's hard to decide!! Here are some tips and ...

Paterson Firefighter Opens Up About Struggles, Urges Others not to Suffer in Silence

February 8, 2018

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - Not a week goes by when a tale of heroism and bravery on the part of firefighters is not told. For them, running into a burning building is as natural as running out of one is for the rest of us.

That became apparent again on Monday when members of the Paterson Fire Department responded to a fire at 268 Main Street, which led to the eventual total collapse of ...

Upcoming Events


Wed, February 21, 10:00 AM

Estelle Finkel Center for Learning, Livingston

Estelle Finkel Center for Learning Presents ...


Wed, February 21, 6:00 PM

Livingston Public Library, Livingston

Free CASA Essex Volunteer Information Session

Giving Back Law & Justice


Sat, February 24, 4:00 PM

Lobby - Office Building, Livingston

Gun Violence Prevention & Congressional Candidates


Livingston Public Library Prepares for NJ Makers Day

February 12, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Livingston Public Library will host its third annual Makers Day on Saturday, March 10. Last year, 350 people attended Livingston Library’s Makers Day and enjoyed a variety of interactive activities ranging from sewing and paper crafts to robotics and circuitry.

Makers Day is a statewide initiative designed to celebrate, promote and introduce ...

Let the Games Begin

I am truly awed by the Olympics.  Watching these superb young athletes on TV inspires me to renew my membership to the gym and pursue my lifelong dream of taking home the gold.  


The problem is that in my deluded head, I can see actually see myself standing atop the podium.  I am wrapped in a puffy designer ski coat with a huge piece of bling slung around my neck ...

In the Driver's Seat

Honey, I am going to take the Roadster out for a quick spin around the sun. I’ll be back in a few million years.


That’s nice dear. While you are out, could you pick up a gallon of milk?


In what has to be the greatest road trip of all time and space, Elon Musk, the visionary inventor, engineer, and billionaire investor loaded his very own red Tesla ...