On October 6, a festive atmosphere prevailed as over 100 guests came together to witness the ceremonial groundbreaking for JSDD’s Cooperman Family Campus. The event was held on the grounds of SWS Architects, adjacent to the JSDD’s new Livingston property. Before shovel hit dirt, donors, friends, and JSDD staff were all smiles as they posed for photos in front of the special backdrop designed by our Groundbreaking Committee.
Under a white tent surrounded by beautiful fall foliage, Event Co-Chair Lois Rose welcomed attendees. Then the Honorable Alfred Anthony, Mayor of Livingston, spoke about what JSDD and the WAE Center mean to the town.
“It’s a beautiful moment in Livingston. We are so honored that this groundbreaking is taking place here,” said Mayor Anthony. “When I first toured the WAE Center, I was just blown away by what people can do – whether it’s yoga or painting or dancing – anything is possible. And to have that here in Livingston, where the possibilities are endless, makes me proud to be mayor.”
Planting the Seeds
Capital Campaign Co-Chairs Ellen Goldner and Sam Weinstock oversaw the groundbreaking, at which donors who contributed $100 thousand or more were publicly thanked for their generosity and invited to add seeds and dirt to a special planter. These donors received a ceremonial shovel as a memento of the groundbreaking.
In his remarks Sam noted, “We had a dream, we knew JSDD was outgrowing its rented building and turning away adults with disabilities on a daily basis. The WAE Center program was completely full. So three years ago, we created a capital campaign committee. Our goal was to raise $8 to $10 million. So far, by December we will have close to $8 million.”
“Dreams are the seeds of change, nothing ever grows without seeds, and nothing changes without a dream,” he continued. “Today, both literally and figuratively, we are planting the seeds for the agency’s continued growth and presence in this community.”
The ceremonial planter will be placed in front of the new building as a symbol of JSDD’s dreams coming true.
Honoring Community Foundations for Their Support
After the groundbreaking, guests moved into the SWS Architects atrium for a celebration to recognize The Cooperman Family Foundation, The Healthcare Foundation of NJ, and The Steven and Beverly Rubenstein Charitable Foundation for donating the three lead $1 million+ gifts, and their support of JSDD.
While guests enjoyed a delicious Kosher brunch, JSDD President Ellen Goldner recalled how far JSDD has come since its modest beginnings 30 years ago, noting that today, “our beautiful new building represents permanency built upon a solid foundation of community support.”
Lynda Wachsteter, Event Co-Chair, added, “It takes a certain kind of individual, a visionary, someone who wants to make a difference, to shine a light on the world and make it brighter for all of us. JSDD is very fortunate to have people like this in our community. This morning we pay special tribute to three foundations for their most significant support.”
Toby Cooperman, who with her husband Leon gifted JSDD with $2.5 million, has been involved with the agency from its inception. In thanking the audience for honoring The Cooperman Family Foundation, Toby said, “My husband and I both look forward to the building which will meet the growing needs of JSDD in the years to come. It will prove to be a blessing for those who need its services. I am very happy that we were able to do this for the JSDD community.”
The Healthcare Foundation of NJ has supported JSDD initiatives for many years. It was a grant from the foundation, for instance, that enabled us to establish the WAE Center. Beth Levithan, Foundation Board Chair, spoke about the foundation’s relationship with JSDD, “The Healthcare Foundation of NJ has been supporting JSDD since 1999. I’m here to thank JSDD staff who have worked hard all through the years. We’re very excited to be supporting the new facility.”
In acknowledging the support of The Steven and Beverly Rubenstein Charitable Foundation, Lynda said, “We will always be grateful to The Rubenstein Foundation for their confidence and trust. They were the first foundation to support us with a $1 million grant to kick off our capital campaign and lay the foundation for our future success.”
Expressing Gratitude for the Team
Executive Director Linda Press closed the ceremony by thanking the remarkable capital campaign committee led by Ellen Goldner and Sam Weinstock, and campaign development director Michael Katz, whose work exceeded everyone’s expectations. She thanked the groundbreaking committee and JSDD staff and board, and noted the contributions of Stephen Schwartz, whose architectural firm designed the beautiful new building.
Linda gave a special shout out to the town of Livingston. “I can’t think of a town that is more welcoming and committed to supporting and including people with special needs.”
Finally, Linda thanked everyone for supporting JSDD throughout the years. “All of you have taken a leap of faith with us. We value your faith and friendship more than you can imagine. Thank you for allowing us to dream big and achieve this milestone for the people we serve.”