Challenge grant of $100K launched; need to raise $250K by February 15.
With the terrible war against Hamas in Israel and all that is affecting the Jewish people today, there seems to be relatively little positive news. But one bright spot for me over the past month has been The Bayit Association, of which I am a co-founder, and our successful efforts to develop and build homes for adults with IDD (intellectual/developmental disabilities) and autism in our Northern New Jersey communities.
The first group home in Teaneck is now under construction (see home pictured on cover). After multiple delays of all kinds over the past two years and with much apology and appreciation to the neighbors, construction is now racing ahead on all of the inside portions of the home with the flooring, walls, insulation, kitchen, etc., all expected to be done in the next three to four months. The new home we have planned and worked on for so long will be beautiful, spacious and attractive inside and out—a place in which adults from our communities with IDD/autism will be proud to live. It is also our deep and sincere hope that our homes and our residents will be model residents and will be a real asset to the surrounding blocks and nearby community. We believe this very strongly and are truly looking forward to construction being completed.
This past Monday, we toured the home with officials from the State of New Jersey’s Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) as part of the home’s 50%/halfway inspection. These state officials, whom we have gotten to know quite well over the past few years and who knew almost every aspect of our new home, passed the home with flying colors. Normally, state inspections can be a bit tense as one never knows if there will be any new or unexpected issues (and they often do arise) but that wasn’t the case at all with this one. Although it was a rainy day and the home was surrounded by mud, and without a fully functioning outdoor staircase, the mood and tone of the state visit was so uniformly positive and upbeat, I almost wanted to cry from happiness. The home met every test and requirement and even exceeded the minimum standards on many levels. The DDD officials wished us well, praised the home’s aesthetic and told us that we only need to invite them back for a final pre-licensing inspection and only when everything is done on the inside. We left that inspection on a big high.
Moreover, to add to the good news, we received word in the past few weeks that our partner in managing and operating the first homes, Ohel, received notification from DDD that is has now finally received all of the licensing and met all of the many requirements needed to go ahead and operate residences in the State of New Jersey. This was not a simple, easy or quick process at all—and it took two-plus years in which Ohel (and The Bayit Association) met every test and challenge. The bottom line is that after years of planning, construction, meeting all requirements, etc., the State of New Jersey is now officially ready to allow The Bayit Association and Ohel to open our first homes.
So when will the first home open? We don’t have an exact opening date yet but we expect it will be around this coming fall. It’s hard to believe that it’s finally going to be a reality. It’s our sincere hope that by the end of 2024, we will have not one, but two licensed group homes in Teaneck with eight adults living in them—and with planning and construction beginning on at least one to two more in the greater Bergen County area in the year ahead.
Announcing a $100K Challenge Grant
All this good news above now leads me to the latest bit of positive news on the fundraising side, and to a special gift announcement and challenge that I am sharing with you, our readers.
A few weeks ago, as part of our efforts to raise money to make sure we are able to finish the construction on time, I met with a family from the Teaneck-Bergenfield area whom I didn’t know well. The family, led by two brothers, invited me into one of their homes and asked me many questions about what we were hoping to accomplish, about the need for homes for adults with IDD/autism, how we were doing in meeting our goals, etc. I must have answered every question decently because after an hour or so, they asked me to wait for a bit while they talked together to discuss what they would consider giving. After a few minutes, they came back and told me that they would be giving The Bayit Association a gift of $50,000.
But that wasn’t all. These very philanthropic and caring brothers then gave me a pretty serious fundraising challenge. They explained to me that they want to make sure that we raised the $350K or so needed to complete the first home and, to really push me and my co-founders to raise the monies needed as soon as possible, they pledged to make their gift a total of $100K, but ONLY as long as we are able to raise another $250K by Feb. 15. They also let me know that they are very comfortable with me sharing the news widely about their challenge grant but just do not want their names mentioned in this column.
I was pretty blown away by this as I was not expecting it at all. But once I recovered my wits, and said thank you more than a few times, it was time to go to work. For the last few weeks, we have been sending emails and texts, making calls, etc. in an effort to meet the challenge they set for us. We have made nice progress and I want to say a heartfelt thank you to the many people we did already solicit, who gave or pledged in the past few weeks. Thank you so much!
However, we are not at the finish line yet and I am writing about it here in this space, asking for help from you, our readers, to help us raise $250K by Feb. 15 and help us finish off the final construction and costs of the first home. I hope you will consider making a gift.
The Bayit Association Donation Info:
The Bayit Association is a fully approved 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. The EIN # is: 86-1535722.
To donate, you can send a check to the address below:
The Bayit Association of NJ
PO Box 3131
Teaneck, NJ 07666
OR you can donate via a donation site we have set up at: https://tinyurl.com/bayitnow
OR scan the QR code below to get to our donation page.
You can also donate via Zelle to [email protected]
For those wishing to donate through a donor-advised fund, we have been vetted and approved by the Jewish Communal Fund and Fidelity