Kelly instrumental in getting ‘Rise Beyond’ off the ground in Nutley

In an effort to help them gain meaningful employment with access to activities within their community, members of the Nutley community have joined forces in support of the township’s Rise Beyond initiative to help provide resources and information to township adults with disabilities.

Led by Commissioner John V. Kelly III and the Nutley Department of Public Affairs and Health in partnership with the Rise Beyond committee, the Nutley Board of Education and the Nutley Chamber of Commerce, the township hosted its first-ever informational session Jan. 30 to educate the community about the various resources available to its residents with special needs.

Showing great support for the mission, residents filled the Stockton Room at the Nutley Public Library to capacity to hear from multiple social organizations that provide assistance to special needs adults. Many success stories were shared, including parents of adults with disabilities’ personal accounts of what gainful employment seeking has been like for their adult children as a result of these programs.

Kelly said the idea for the program was born from a conversation he had with Kimberly Donohue, a Nutley resident who is not only a parent to a child with special needs, but is also a special-needs attorney. Upon asking what more the township could do to help its residents with special needs, Donahue told him: “It’s great that you ask, because there is a lot.”

Kelly spoke of how much he has since learned about what parents of adults with special needs contend with since that first conversation six months ago. Although they may have only just begun to scratch the surface, the intention of the initiative is to pick up where the Board of Education and schools leave off in “doing a great job of educating our young people, including those with special needs” in order to “help individuals with special needs find meaningful employment once they get out of school.”

Presentations were made by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), the Division of Developmental Disabilities, Supportive Choices, Beyond 21 and Attain and Gain Counseling, LLC.

Discussions focused on helping adults with disabilities explore their individual interests to help them find employment opportunities to best suit their needs and strengths. Resources involving social activities, access to transportation and residential services were also explored.

Township Public Health Nurse Patty Cruz and Donohue shared their own personal parental stories.

“There is the saying that ‘it takes a village,’” Kelly said. “Well, in this case, it takes a township.”

A video of the presentation is available to view on the Nutley YouTube channel at



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