The North Ward Center was honored in City Hall Wednesday with a ceremonial resolution marking the nonprofit organization on its 50th Anniversary.

The Center, which was founded by Stephen N. Adubato Sr. in 1970, has grown from a storefront operation on Bloomfield Avenue into a nationally-recognized non-profit organization that educates, advocates and empowers residents throughout the greater Newark community.

The Center, headquartered in the former Clark mansion on Mt. Prospect Avenue, offers a myriad of services through five central programs, including the North Ward Center Child Development Center, the Forest Hill Child Development Center, Casa Israel Adult Medical Day Program, the North Ward Family Success Center and the Youth Leadership Development Program. The Center recently broke ground on a new recreation complex in the Roseville section of the city.

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In 1997, the Center also founded the Robert Treat Academy, which is considered one of the top independent charter schools in the state. The school, which was awarded a Blue Ribbon by the U.S. Department of Education, has two locations in the North and Central wards and serves 675 students in grades K-8.

Adubato no longer runs the organization, but his daughters have assumed leadership roles at the organization and charter school. Michele, the former principal of the New Jersey Regional Day School, is the chief executive officer. Another daughter, Theresa, is principal of Robert Treat Academy.

Both sisters, along with their mother, Fran, and brother Steven, were in the City Council chambers Wednesday to accept the resolution. A number of students along with other participants in The North Ward Center’s programs were also in attendance for the ceremony, the first major event marking the organization’s 50th anniversary.

Michele Adubato also founded the Center for Autism nine years ago. In October, The Center broke ground for the HOPE House, which will be the permanent home of four individuals with autism. The individuals will be supported 24/7 by two on-site staff to assist them with daily living and transportation.

“The strength of The North Ward Center is based around its various institutions that are committed serving our community,” said North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., who sponsored the ceremonial resolution. 

“Whether it’s children enrolled in its early childhood program, youngsters participating in recreational activities, families of young adults with autism receiving support and guidance, students at the Robert Treat Academy and other affiliated schools and seniors receiving care at Casa Israel, the NWC continues to provide valuable opportunities for Newark and North Ward residents,” Ramos said.

Ramos said over the 50-year history of the Center, Adubato and his representatives attended meetings in City Hall to advocate on behalf of the Center and its constituents.

Michele Adubato said it was important for the Center to begin its 50th Anniversary celebration in Newark City Hall.

“The genesis of who we are began with the partnership and friendship of Mayor Ken Gibson and my father,” she said. “It’s hard to put into words the significance of their partnership and how it would help shape our community.”