From its origin in 1965, one simple principle has guided the Eastern Christian Children’s Retreat: to serve individuals with disabilities so that they can reach their greatest potential.
In the early sixties, two nurses, Theresa “Tret” Bushman and Ann (Minnema) Morgan founded the Retreat. They realized that there were no facilities locally for a home-like setting of care and treatment for children with mental and physical disabilities. Compelled by their Christian belief of caring for those less fortunate, they organized hundreds of volunteers from the community to finance and construct a residential facility. The idea seemed formidable. Ultimately they approached the Christian Sanatorium in Wyckoff. The Sanatorium, now known as the Christian Health Care Center, agreed to sell 10 acres of land to ECCR for the facility for $1.
Vigorous fundraising activities slowly propelled the project along so that in 1971 ground was broken and in 1972 the Eastern Christian Children’s Retreat became a reality. The residential facility opened on December 4, 1972.
THERESA 'TRET' BUSHMAN
Ms. Theresa Bushman of Wyckoff was the driving force behind the founding of the Eastern Christian Children’s Retreat, the first private residential facility for people with developmental disabilities in the state of New Jersey.
As a maternity nurse at Paterson General Hospital in the 1950’s, Ms. Bushman saw firsthand the need for a residential facility for disabled children. With support from the community the fundraising began in 1962 with $40 in the bank. The Retreat opened its doors in 1972. Ms. Bushman has said, “When we built the Retreat building, I pinched myself and I still do each time I come up the road”. The Retreat currently serves over 120 people with a broad range of disabilities in a congregate care facility and community based homes. Ms. Bushman served as president of the Retreat’s Ladies Auxiliary for many years.
Miss Bushman passed away on November 16, 2016. She was a woman who gave so much of herself to help others. She is an example of compassion and an inspiration to many. She will be missed but her legacy will live on.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE ECCR'S HISTORY
The Eastern Christian Children’s Retreat was incorporated as a non-profit organization under the laws of the state of New Jersey. Fundraising began with a $40 bank deposit.
December 4, 1972
The Retreat officially opened its residence to serve 85 children and young adults with developmental disabilities.
Major renovations to main residence with an addition of East dormitory, which included classrooms and living areas to accommodate growing needs.
The first community based group home is opened in Midland Park to accommodate 5 men.
A second community group home in North Haledon is opened to accommodate 5 adolescents.
A third community based group home is opened in North Haledon to 5 women.
Two new on-site group homes adjacent to the main building are opened.
The Retreat receives state approval to provide respite (short-term) care to families of individuals with disabilities.
A third on-site group home is opened.
A fourth group home is opened in Hawthorne in partnership with the Christian Health Care Center.
A fifth community-based residence is opened in Midland Park for two women.
The Retreat names the main residence in Wyckoff, The Bushman Building, in honor of co-founder and long-term supporter, Theresa Bushman.
ECCR opened its first community-based adult day program in Prospect Park.
A community-based group home opened in Midland Park for four women.
Grand Re-Opening of Hilltop Group Home in North Haledon.
Groundbreaking for the ECCR Mountain Ave Group Home in Wyckoff.
Groundbreaking for the ECCR Waldwick Group Home.
Groundbreaking for the ECCR Crescent Ave Group Home in Allendale.
Ribbon Cutting for new Mountain Ave Group Home in Wyckoff.
5 residents moved into newly constructed Mountain Ave Group Home in Wyckoff.
Ribbon Cutting for the new Waldwick Group Home, home for 6 women.
Ribbon cutting for new Crescent Ave Group Home, home for 5 women.
Renovations to Willow Lodge complete.
Groundbreaking for new Rockledge Group Home.