Taking the next step

Windmill Alliance makes changes

One can feel the history oozing out the old house behind Trinity Church on Broadway. But the history will vanish if the church and its associated programs – under the banner of the Windmill Alliance – are to continue.
“It is a historic house, but it’s in terrible shape,” said Rev. Gerard Pisani, who is retiring from the ministry later this month, after having helped shepherd Trinity Church and its associated programs. The Windmill Alliance Inc., a ministry of Trinity Episcopal Parish in Bergen Point, serves about 40 people with developmental disabilities in its Windmill Center day program and up to 15 in its Windmill Residence supervised apartments program.
The Alliance also operates the HIGHWAYS (Helping Individuals Gain Hope Will Always Yield Success) thrift store and counseling service, providing clothing, furnishings, counsel, and a food pantry to those in need.
The program has used the old Victorian style house for a number of its creative projects over the years, and the house – built in 1862 – originally served as a rectory to the Episcopalian ministers at Trinity Church. The church was built in 1859, but it later burned down and was rebuilt.
Rev. Pisani said early Episcopalian priests usually came from families with money so that when they arrived here, they brought their servants with them.
He said the parish did look at preserving the building some years ago, but discovered that the cost would be more than the construction of a new building.
Rev. Greg Perez, who has the task of continuing the mission to upgrade Windmill’s facilities as the new president, said the house at 141 Broadway will be replaced with three new buildings to accommodate the growing community need for a bigger facility.


“It is a historic house, but it’s in terrible shape.” – Rev. Gerard Pisani

The current facility handles about 50 people in its day program. But with more disabled and autistic people expected to join the program after graduating from local schools, the program will need more room.

Helping people to help themselves

Half-finished papier-mâché clutters flat surfaces in a few of the rooms downstairs in the old house, the product of the projects the population engages in to both occupy the clients and to help cover some of the center’s costs. Until recently, the center provided some of the papier-mâché costumes for Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The population is also involved in recycling for various businesses and other activities.
Currently, staff and clients are moving some of their operations out of the nearby hall into a newly constructed temporary modular facility, where they will continue to operate while reconstruction gets underway.
Rev. Perez said the community hall serves a number of community functions, including as a meeting place for Alcoholics Anonymous and similar programs.
The first building planned for construction in the five-year project will double the capacity for the day program.
The Windmill Alliance Center has been operating in Bayonne since 1985 and has helped hundreds of men and woman with developmental disabilities. Its center, a day program, provides job training and life skills to people with developmental disabilities.
When completed, the Alliance hopes to have state of the art facilities that will include a new community center/parish hall, and will allow them to relocate their current HIGHWAYS facility – currently five blocks away – on the same site.
This would mean that the current offerings – such as the food pantry, the job readiness and other programs – would be accessible by public transportation, something that is not true for all the programs at this moment.
Board of Education President Will Lawson and Councilman Terrence Ruane were among the public officials who toured the new facility.
The total cost for the project is estimated at $3 million.
The Windmill Alliance has raised about $1 million and the rest will be financed through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the non-profit Finance Fund.
When all is done, all of the alliances programs will be located on the Broadway site.
After that, they plan to construct a new community hall – which they hope to lease out for non-profit uses – and a third building that will bring the HIGHWAYS program on to the same location (it currently is located several blocks away on Hobart Avenue).
Although the group expects to get grants and other funding, the capital improvement project still requires them to raise about $1.2 million.
As part of its fundraising efforts, Windmill will hold a walk-a-thon on Sept. 12, starting at about 12:30 p.m. For more information, contact Rev. Perez at (201) 858-4460.

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