Tim Parker – President
Kris Pepper – Vice President
Yvonne Balkema – Treasurer
Laura Gorter – Secretary
Daryl Rogers – CEO
Laura Lupica – COO
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.
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.
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.
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.