County pulls $12K funding from blind seniors’ group

HUDSON COUNTY — Ivis Alverez has been facilitating the Hudson County Visually Impaired Program (VIP) since its inception in 2008 with $12,000 in annual funding from the Hudson County Office on Aging. This year, funding suddenly stopped, leaving the group high and dry.
Just over a dozen individuals from throughout the county are members of the program. All are visually impaired and most are seniors. The meet once a week in Union City in a room provided by the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark.
“We support one another in this group and we learn from one another,” said member Janet Jones. “If we didn’t have this group, we would be in a reclusive state.”
“Since I’ve joined this group I’ve gotten to make friends,” said Diana LaForge from Jersey City, who became a member in December of 2014. “We have BINGO boards with Braille and with raised print numbers so we can all participate. Also we gain knowledge about things I wouldn’t find out about otherwise.”
Up until this year, the Hudson County Office on Aging provided the $12,000 grant annually to VIP via Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark.
But now, the money is gone.
Contacted last week, County Freeholder William O’Dea was unfamiliar with the situation.
“Other agencies that have been defunded or reduced have come to our board,” he said. “All these items are voted on and there’s a public hearing. We allow those individuals to come to a meeting and speak and we generally try to find a way, if it’s a good program, to assist them, if not from this grant money then from other grant money or even county money.”
Find out more about this story in this past weekend’s print edition of the North Bergen Reporter, or scroll down on to the North Bergen news section. Or watch for the story in other town’s editions this coming Sunday.

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