News & Events

Planning to Age in Place? Find a Contractor Now

Read this complete article from the New York Times here.

Older people have the highest rate of homeownership in the country — about 80 percent, according to a 2016 report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard. The great majority live in single-family homes, most of them poorly suited for the disabilities common in later life.

The center has looked at three of the most important accessibility features that allow people to move safely around their living spaces: entrances without steps, single-floor living, and wide hallways and doorways that can accommodate wheelchairs.

“Less than 4 percent of the U.S. housing stock has all three of those,” said Jennifer Molinsky, a senior research associate at the center.

Add two more important elements for aging in place — doors with lever handles, and light switches and electrical outlets that can be reached from a wheelchair — and the proportion drops to 1 percent.

You’ll often hear older people vow that they won’t leave their homes except “feet first.” Without modifications, however, the design of most older Americans’ homes could eventually thwart their owners’ desire to stay in them.

Solving that problem, individually or collectively, means confronting certain obstacles.

Read this complete article from the New York Times here.

Unsung Hero John H. Leighton: Active Member of the Marines Corps League of Rockland

This article appears in “Rockland County Times”.  Please view the complete article here.

The mission of The Marine Corps League is for the members to join together in camaraderie and fellowship for the purpose of preserving the traditions and promoting the interests of the United States Marine Corps. This is accomplished by banding together those who are now serving in the United States Marine Corps and those who have been honorably discharged from that service, voluntarily aiding and rendering assistance to all Marines and former Marines and to their widows and orphans and by perpetuating the history of the United States Marine Corps through fitting acts to observe the anniversaries of historical occasions of particular interest to Marines.

Past Commandant Dale Robison Jr. told the Rockland County Times, “Retired United States Marine Corps Colonel John H. Leighton is an outstanding veteran. He served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and flew 900 missions. He has been an active member, performing as our Commandant for 2 years, is currently serving as our Adjutant and was President of the Vietnam Veterans of America chapter 333. In these positions, he instituted many ideas and changes to strengthen these groups. He has been involved with our Toys for Tots program plus the Bob Hope Division at the Montrose Nursing Home for Vets. His most impressive work has been for the Joseph P. Dwyer Vet to Vet mentoring group, working with vets suffering from PTSD. A humble man, John is most deserving of recognition.”

This article appears in “Rockland County Times”.  Please view the complete article here.

2017 PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer Support Conference

Visit our EventBrite page to register for this free event!

BRiDGES is pleased to announce the 2017 PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer Support Conference.  “Finding Your Next Mission and Purpose” is designed with the needs of veterans and military families in mind, the event will feature an inspiring keynote presentation, supported by multiple breakout educational sessions, career opportunities and alternative therapies, as well as plenty of peer to peer, veteran networking. Breakfast and lunch will be provided at no cost.

The PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer Support Program uses a free Vet to Vet support model for veterans facing the challenges of adjusting to civilian life, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Services to veterans include Military Behavioral Health Training, Women Veteran Support, Group and Individual Support, and Gold Star Family Support.

For more information about attending or supporting this event, contact BRiDGES  845-624-1366.
To speak to a veteran at the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer Support Program call 845-521-5361.

Visit our EventBrite page to register for this free event!

CHORE Program Is Now Available Through BRiDGES!

For several years the CHORE program has provided assistance for Rockland County residents with a disability and anyone over the age of 60.  People who may need light handy-work and simple maintenance in their home benefit from CHORE volunteers coming to do the labor.  The program is supported through a combination of volunteers, a grant from the Rockland County Office for the Aging, and the generosity of local businesses and residents.

CHORE had operated for the past five (5) years through Home Aides of Rockland.  The program was at risk when that agency announced its closing in March 2017.  Thanks to the leadership of Rockland County Executive Ed Day, the future of CHORE was secured through a transfer to BRiDGES.

CHORE fits the mission of BRiDGES,” states Dr. David Jacobsen, Executive Director.  “CHORE volunteers install grab bars and change light bulbs – these activities help people be able to continue to live at home independently.  It’s a great program.  We are thankful to the County for the opportunity to continue to provide this service.”

Tom Ternquist, who has managed the program for several years, continues to oversee CHORE.  For more information about CHORE, or to schedule an appointment, contact Tom at 845-215-1010.

Thank You To All Our Guests & Sponsors!

Our BRiDGES 30 event was a rousing success!  The party took place on Thursday, March 9th at the Clubhouse at Patriot Hills.  As the evening began, guest mingled, enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and perused the raffle prizes that were available.  Entertainment for the evening was provided by the very talented pianist, Milton Koja.

Dr. David Jacobsen, Executive Director of BRiDGES had the honor of acting as master of ceremonies for the evening.  After speeches given by a number for Rockland County officials, Dr. Jacobsen turned the floor over to several individuals who shared their personal stories with the crowd.  These personal stories helped to highlight the issues that people with disabilities must face and how BRiDGES has helped them overcome those issues.  These stories sparked lively and informative conversation that flowed through out the evening as guests enjoyed the delicious menu provided by Patriot Hills.

The evening wound down with a live auction hosted by BRiDGES board member, Howard Hellman and the drawing of the winners for the raffle prizes.  All proceeds from these activies will be used to support the mission of BRiDGES.

We want to thank all of our guests for the evening and everyone that sponsored and donated to the event.  We want to send a very special thank you to all the individuals who bravely shared their stories!

Advocacy Release – Affordable Health Care Act

View the PDF version of this advocacy release

March 2017

Issue:         Affordable Health Care Act

Purpose:    Advocacy for People with Disabilities

Central to the mission of BRiDGES are two key elements: Advocacy and Leadership.

This release focuses on the decisions being made now regarding health care for those Americans who are most susceptible to even the slightest changes to access, coverage, and continuing care.  Rising costs of insurance coverage, prescription medication, and treatment warrant changes; however, those changes must ensure that existing systems, proven effective for helping people with disabilities maintain autonomy, are strengthened through the process.

The primary purpose of advocacy is to ensure that each voice is heard, and that every American freely exercises life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  As an Independent Living Center, BRiDGES is dedicated to advocacy that expresses the voice of people living with disabilities.  With the prospective bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, it is essential that this voice is heard.  More than 20% of Americans are currently living with a disability – and all Americans are affected by changes in vision, hearing, physical, emotional, and overall functioning as time goes by.

BRiDGES recognizes three key issues regarding the Affordable Health Care Act:

  • Access
  • Coverage
  • Continuing Care

Regarding each of these issues, immediate action is required to ensure that the voices of millions of people with disability are heard, considered, and valued in the midst of this debate.  It is not enough to repeal the ACA because of perceived broken promises if replaced with lesser coverage and care.


Regarding Access, it is important that health care coverage be affordable in ways that allow it to be used.  Plans under the ACA that make insurance affordable only through excessively high deductibles and copays provide no value.  BRiDGES supports changes in coverage that improve access to care.

Regarding Coverage, it is essential that mental health coverage parity other aspects of health care.  In addition, supportive services – especially housing, must be recognized in tandem with health care.  Stable housing is proven to mitigate even severe mental health concerns.  Also, improvements to health care must include improved prescription medication coverage.  BRiDGES supports maintaining mental health parity.

Regarding Continuing Care, it is necessary to ensure that coverage is sufficient to meet the needs.  Chronic disabling conditions must have provisions that protect care for pre-existing conditions, and person-centered health care.  BRiDGES supports protecting the Community First Choice Option that gives every American the autonomy and freedom to both live independently and receive the services needed.

Contact your elected officials in Washington to encourage common-sense legislation that improves access, coverage, and continuing care for people with disabilities, for every American.

House of Representatives –
United States Senate –

Families of Developmentally Disabled Seek More Funding for Caregivers

Read the complete article here…

By Karen Dewitt – WXXI News – February 28, 2017

Just one month before the state budget is due, numerous interest groups are converging on the State Capitol, asking that they be included in the budget.

Among the more impassioned efforts is one from developmentally disabled people and their caregivers. They are seeking $45 million in state subsidies to pay workers more money to comply with the rising minimum wage in New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature last year phased in an increase that will eventually lead to a $15 hourly wage in New York City and a $12.50 wage upstate.

Former Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, who has a son with severe development disabilities, said the money is “loose change” in a $160 billion state budget. He said worker shortages with vacancy rates as high as 20 percent at some facilities have led to employees working overtime while not earning enough to live decently themselves.

“They can’t pay their bills, they qualify for food stamps, there’s something wrong,” Weisenberg said. “The state has an obligation and a responsibility to pay these people a living wage.”

Read the complete article here…

New City Neighbors Turns The Spotlight To BRiDGES

The current issue of New City Neighbors Magazine features an article written by David Jacobsen, Executive Director of BRiDGES.  Click here to view the complete article.

Bridging People to Services They Need

Submitted by David Jacobsen, Psy.D., Executive Director – BRiDGES

What would you do…is a question that is used to provide both education and entertainment through the popular TV segment of the same name.  Thirty years ago, it was used as the basis for advancing a new concept in civil rights focused on the needs of people with disabilities. Emerging from this national movement was the development of independent living centers (ILC), including an agency in Rockland County.

Today, there are more than 640 ILC’s, including 41 in New York State. Each center operates with core principles that include:

  • Peer Services
  • Independent Living Skills Training
  • Information & Referral
  • Individual & Systems Advocacy

Founded in 1987, BRiDGES serves people with disabilities in Rockland County in each of those areas and more. With a mission to provide advocacy and leadership towards an accessible, integrated community, BRiDGES partners with public and private agencies to “bridge” people to the services they need.

Click here to view the complete article.