On behalf the of the Gelormini family, we want to extend our sincerest gratitude and thanks to the entire Borough of New Providence for their outpouring of love and support during this terrible time of grief and loss. For those that don’t know us, my husband and I are lifelong residents of New Providence. My husband Bob works for the Borough and was a volunteer fireman for 13 years. My twin daughters graduated NPHS in 2003. My daughter Denise works for the Borough as the Deputy Borough Clerk, and Patti is a Special Ed teacher who worked for the Morris Union Jointure Commission. My husband’s brother Mike owns Gelormini’s Automotive and I worked at McGrath’s Paint and Hardware for 10 years as “The Paint Diva” and have chosen paint colors for nearly everyone in town. I am also a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. Some know me through music as I sang on the worship team at the Presbyterian Church in New Providence for 10 years, and sing at the “Concert In The Park Series” every year here in New Providence. My son David was an athlete for New Providence High School class of 2014 and is currently attending college in Rhode Island.
As many know, our son Robbie had Severe Autism and seizures. Although our other three children attended the public schools in New Providence, Robbie did not. He attended the Morris Union Jointure Commission’s “Developmental Learning Center” in New Providence (Previously Hillview School, where my husband and I both attended Elementary School). Because he didn’t attend public school many friends and co-workers knew OF Robbie, but never really KNEW him. Occasionally we were able to bring him to some sporting events in town, but not very often. But we often shared pictures and videos of him on Facebook because we love him fiercely and were just as proud of him and his accomplishments as we were of our other children. We also shared our lives openly on our video blog “Robbie and Me: Autism Reality” and were able to reach thousands of people all over the world spreading a message of acceptance and unconditional love for people with Autism. We just had no idea that Robbie suddenly going to heaven would be part of our story.
Throughout Robbie’s lifetime we have had to call 911 many times for Robbie. We called the police when he would “elope” and couldn’t find him, and he has taken many rides in the ambulance. 10 years ago the New Providence Rescue Squad resuscitated him after his first seizure which was almost lethal. For the past seven years he lived in group homes, the last three years in Summit, where the police and EMS workers also got to know Robbie. He briefly lived in other towns in New Jersey where he was transported to the hospital and we were billed for the ambulance. It was then that we realized how we had taken for granted that in New Providence these services are volunteered and are FREE! I wanted to publicly thank all of the volunteers for their hard work and dedication and for their care of my son over the years.
On November 7, Robbie had his final seizure in his bed at his home in Summit and this time they were not able to resuscitate him. We were shocked.
Immediately we were flooded with phone calls, trays of food, flowers, gifts and hundreds of cards at our home. We were completely overwhelmed by the amount of love from so many people. We held a “Celebration of Robbie’s Life” at the Presbyterian Church and were stunned at how many people came. It was “Standing Room Only” and many had to stand in the overflow space. (I kept remembering how the town got its’ name “New Providence” after the balcony had collapsed and no one got hurt, and was praying we would not repeat that scenario!) I don’t think I ever realized how much a part of the town we really were and how many people we knew until we watched hundreds of people flood into the church that day. We were overwhelmed.
Robbie was only 27 years old and we honestly were not prepared financially or emotionally for this sudden event. But the entire town rallied together and helped to make his service one of the most beautiful days we will never forget. I’m told many businesses in town all donated food and we were able to feed probably 400 people that day. To know that Robbie’s life touched so many people, and to know that so many people care for you, grieve with you, and love you, is an amazing thing to experience. We realized what the word “Community” really means, and the entire town seemed to pull together and felt like one big family. We always think of New Providence as such a small town, but that week for us the town was HUGE.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Thank you to our friends, relatives and co-workers, to the Rescue Squad, Police Department, Fire Department, Road Department, Borough Office and Administration. Thank you to all the local businesses who donated food, and to The Presbyterian Church of New Providence, especially Colleen Fletcher and the Ministry of Helps and all of the volunteers. Thank you to “Our House” for caring for Robbie for the past four years, to Hope Autism Solutions (his day program also run at the Hillview School location) and all of his beloved care workers who loved him, cared for him every day and made him happy. We also want to extend, on Robbie’s behalf, a huge thank you to all who donated in Robbie’s memory to the “Hope Autism Foundation” who run Robbie’s day program. It’s been a very emotional couple of weeks in many ways and during this time of thanksgiving, we are so thankful to be part of such a wonderful town with such beautiful people . God bless you all.