I became a JESPY client a little over five years ago. I like the fact that I have the independence of having my own apartment. In the past, I never had the opportunity to cook my own food and to serve that food to guests. I have socialized at JESPY with all sorts of people. 

For me, one aspect of socializing is inviting other clients over for dinner. To adequately socialize with a client that I recently invited over for dinner, I cleaned the apartment first. Preparing for a guest is a lot of work. 

I cooked a healthy meal, which included turkey burgers, carrots with broccoli, and hummus. For dessert, we had blackberries. My guest seemed to enjoy the meal. We talked about applying for jobs and all of the requirements. It’s helpful to have other clients to discuss these things with and to share opinions and ideas. 

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I’ve learned to become more independent through working with the counselors at JESPY. I’ve learned that I can make suggestions and the suggestions can be heard. I don’t have to be afraid to speak up, as long as I do it in a polite and thought out way. 

The most interesting thing about JESPY has been going on trips. Last year, I went to Washington, DC and it was very educational. I saw the Martin Luther King Memorial. It’s currently unfinished but I think that symbolizes the fact that his work is unfinished. There’s a lot more for us as a society to do. Our society still needs to break many stereotypes. The Capitol is beautiful at night. If it weren’t for JESPY, I don’t know if I would ever have gone there. JESPY has expanded my horizons. I have gone to Europe and Mexico since I’ve been at JESPY. I have also flown all over the United States. 

I have participated in various activities, such as gardening and creative writing, which keep my mind alert and active. When I participate in fiber arts classes, I learn to make beautiful jewelry and I wear what I create. Making the jewelry requires concentration and effort. When I make bracelets, I have to tie the knots securely and pull them tight so that the beads don’t come off the string. 

I am proud of myself and all the things I have accomplished. I’m not completely there. But every day I try my best. I have made many friends and building self-esteem and self-confidence.

For my personal health, I’m doing physical training to improve my health. I work out on my own and with a JESPY trainer so that I can feel a lot better and it is working. Vocational training is improving my independence and will help me with earning a wage. I’m excited about that for my future. JESPY helps me with my physical and social health. So I would say that JESPY is good for my overall health. 


JESPY House , based in South Orange, has a wide range of programs and activities that aid in the personal growth and development of participating clients. Through choice-based programming in the areas of wellness, life skills, and more, clients develop and grow in their areas of interest and need. JESPY client Ruth Coughlin has participated in JESPY poetry/creative writing groups and other programs.