About

More than a home supporting individuals of all ages with developmental disabilities. The Eastern Christian Children’s Retreat is a private, non-profit organization created to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities
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201.848.8005
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Board Members

Tim Parker – President
Ed Galenkamp – Vice President
Yvonne Balkema – Treasurer
Kristine Pepper – Secretary
Mark Borst
Bill Bushman
Laura Gorter
Steve Hulsebos
Ken Kuiken
Tom Ludwig
Mark Van Lenten
Julie Westra

Daryl Rogers – CEO
Laura Lupica – COO

About

The Eastern Christian Children’s Retreat serves over 100 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our goal is to make sure all of our residents have a meaningful life. All aspects of their lives; medical, residential, social, educational, vocational, recreation and spiritual are met at ECCR.

ECCR operates 14 locations in Bergen & Passaic Counties in New Jersey. ECCR opened on December 4, 1972 as the only facility of its kind in the state of NJ. ECCR expanded into the community in 1986 with the development of community based group homes, where residents enjoy supervised supported living. In 1992 ECCR advanced its philosophy of providing a home-like setting for residents with the construction of on-site lodges.

Recognizing the need for vocational training once our residents turn 21 years old, ECCR began operating a Special Needs Adult Day Program (RAVE) on August 6, 1986. This program is open to people who reside at an ECCR location or at home with family.

A professional staff comprised of over 300 individuals provides 24 hour a day, 7 day a week care for the residents. A volunteer Board of Directors, elected from the community, governs the Eastern Christian Children’s Retreat.

Our Mission

The Eastern Christian Children’s Retreat is a private, non-profit organization created to support individuals with a broad range of intellectual and developmental disabilities. The sincere desire of the founders and the Board of Directors is that each resident have the opportunity to achieve personal growth and a meaningful life.  Such a life will be minister to our residents by a caring, skilled and dedicated staff and guided by our Christian calling and principles.

Our Vision

Trusting in God, and honoring the Christian commitment of its founders, ECCR will continue to support persons with developmental disabilities throughout all stages of life. To assure that each person shall realize his/her full potential as a child of God and be satisfactorily integrated within society, a variety of resources shall be used including residential care, adult programs and training, social and spiritual nurture and community advocacy.

THERESA 'TRET' BUSHMAN

History

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.

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.

Timeline

1956
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.
June 1984
Major renovations to main residence with an addition of East dormitory, which included classrooms and living areas to accommodate growing needs.
August 1985
ECCR Special Needs Adult Day program started.
September 1987
The first community based group home is opened in Midland Park to accommodate 5 men.
May 1990
A second community group home in North Haledon is opened to accommodate 5 adolescents.
January 1992
A third community based group home is opened in North Haledon to 5 women.
January 1993
Two new on-site group homes adjacent to the main building are opened.
March 1994
The Retreat receives state approval to provide respite (short-term) care to families of individuals with disabilities.
January 1998
A third on-site group home is opened.
June 1999
A fourth group home is opened in Hawthorne in partnership with the Christian Health Care Center.
May 2000
A fifth community-based residence is opened in Midland Park for two women.
June 2001
The Retreat names the main residence in Wyckoff, The Bushman Building, in honor of co-founder and long-term supporter, Theresa Bushman.
January 2002
ECCR opened its first community-based adult day program in Prospect Park.
August 2009
A community-based group home opened in Midland Park for four women.
October 2012
Grand Re-Opening of Hilltop Group Home in North Haledon.
May 2014
Groundbreaking for the ECCR Mountain Ave Group Home in Wyckoff.
September 2014
Groundbreaking for the ECCR Waldwick Group Home.
December 2014
Groundbreaking for the ECCR Crescent Ave Group Home in Allendale.
April 2015
Ribbon Cutting for new Mountain Ave Group Home in Wyckoff.
May 2015
5 residents moved into newly constructed Mountain Ave Group Home in Wyckoff.
September 2015
Ribbon Cutting for the new Waldwick Group Home, home for 6 women.
May 2016
Ribbon cutting for new Crescent Ave Group Home, home for 5 women.
November 2015
Renovations to Willow Lodge complete.
September 2016
Groundbreaking for new Rockledge Group Home.
November 2017
Ribbon Cutting for new Rockledge Group Home, home for 5 men.
September 2018
Groundbreaking for new Hamilton House Group Home
December 2018
Renovations to Oak Lodge complete.
October 2019
Ribbon Cutting for the new Hamilton Group Home, home to 5 men.