UJIMA Village celebrates fifth anniversary

An indoor picnic to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Ujima Village, a tax credit- funded, 52-unit apartment complex on Pennington Avenue for low- and moderate-income seniors and adults with disabilities, took place Sept. 17 on the first floor of this renovated century- old building.

Ujima residents and Ujima Village Apartments are housed in staff of SERV Behavioral the former Fraternal Order of Odd Fellows building, Health System Inc., the a four-story brick Greek Revival structure built in managing partner of Ujima 1910 on Pennington Avenue at the crossroads of Village, enjoyed a late Ewing and Trenton.

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NJPRA Award presented to four SERV Centers staff

Four staff members of SERV Centers of New Jersey recently were honored by The New Jersey Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association during its annual recognition dinner.

Vanessa Arias-Martinez, program supervisor of the Adapt Partial Care Program in Passaic County; and Union County staffers, senior residential counselor Karla Ranucci, senior counselor Elaine Adams and senior residential counselor Mary Kay Spiliotis all received a Certificate of Recognition Sept. 22, 2009, during a dinner at Mastoris Restaurant in Bordentown. SERV Behavioral Health System President/CEO Gary van Nostrand and SERV Centers COO Bill O’Brien were in attendance for the ceremony.

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SERV consumer’s artwork displayed at museum for people with disabilities

Christian displays his crayon-and-pencil drawing, “My Neighborhood,” which was selected for an exhibit at the Arts Unbound museum in Orange for artists with disabilities. His artwork is a depiction of the SERV Achievement group home where he lives in East Windsor.

Christian R. views his neighborhood as one with colorful houses surrounded by neatly trimmed green lawns nourished by bright sun rays.

Therefore, when the 18-year-old consumer with SERV Achievement Centers was asked by his teacher at The Academy Learning Center in Monroe Township to draw “My Neighborhood,” that is how Christian accurately depicted the SERV group home where he lives in East Windsor, N.J.

Rachel Stern, the teacher at the school for students with autism or autistic-like behavior, saw something special in Christian’s crayon-and-pencil artwork and submitted it to the Arts Unbound museum in Orange, where it was selected to be on exhibit for a month in March.

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Consumer invents life-saving helmet

Ronald Pitak sits in a room he painted at SERV Centers Passaic County where he is a consumer and a part-time maintenance worker. He also is the inventor of The Pitak helmet for firefighters, miners and rescue workers.

He can cite the countless jobs, positions and hobbies he says he has experienced in his 61 years: an Army paratrooper in Vietnam, a softball and baseball umpire, a scuba diver, a lifeguard, a horticulturist, a hunter.

And now, because of the few years he spent as a firefighter in West Paterson, Ronald Pitak can add one more to his “Jack-of-all-trades” list – inventor.

Ronald, a consumer with SERV Centers Passaic County, is the brains behind The Pitak, a helmet designed for firefighters or miners that has a visor and a molded holder with a replaceable filter that covers the mouth and nose for added protection from smoke and particulate inhalation while on the job.

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