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NJCDC Celebrates William Waldman’s 80th Birthday

NJCDC Celebrates William Waldman’s 80th Birthday

August 11, 2023

In 2005, NJCDC opened the William Waldman Independence House, known as "Indy House", in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Children and Families. Indy House provides both housing and supportive services to young men aging out of the foster care system. Youth who turn 18 and age out of the foster care system are often unprepared to transition to adulthood and are especially vulnerable to homelessness. Indy House alleviates this by providing ten young men with the support and structure needed to successfully transition to independent living. With the support of NJCDC staff, residents pursue educational opportunities and prepare for careers. After a period of one to two years spent in the transitional housing environment at Indy House, residents are able to live on their own and handle adult responsibilities.

William "Bill" Waldman and NJCDC's CEO and Founder Bob Guarasci met when Bob served as Bill's Executive Assistant in the early 1990s during Bill's tenure as the state's Commissioner of Human Services. In 1994, Bob left the state government and founded NJCDC to help children and families in Paterson. He credits the influence of Bill Waldman for giving him the knowledge and courage to create NJCDC.

We used to talk about young people, particularly young people aging out of the foster care system, and the need for more programs for young people," said Bob Guarasci. "When it came time to decide what the building would be called, it was an easy choice—and so it is now known as the William Waldman Independence House.

Recently, Bill celebrated his 80th birthday. His wife wanted to use the event to celebrate the impact he has had on young people throughout his life, and Indy House—named for him—is a physical testament to this impact. On Sunday, the Waldman family visited Paterson to see and understand firsthand the legacy of their father and grandfather.

The day began outside of Indy House, in front of the plaque showing Bill Waldman's name. Bob Guarasci provided an introduction to the building and the services it provides, as well as the reason Bill was honored as the building's namesake. The family then went inside to enjoy lunch. During lunch, there was a roundtable discussion where current and former Indy House residents spoke about their experiences and the impact Indy House has had on them.

Bob Guarasci said "I think it's important that all of you understand what happens in this building—and how that ties to Bill Waldman and all that he has meant over the years to countless individuals in all kinds of different ways. But particularly to young people, and young people who need that second chance."

"Choosing to come here was definitely a great decision for me, because had I not, I wouldn't have been able to go anywhere, I would have been stuck," said Taiwan Davis, who has been a resident at Indy House for just over a year. Now, he tries to be a mentor to the newer residents. "Everybody that comes in, I try to guide them and give them the words of wisdom."

Two former residents, Vincent Cooper and O'Brien Walters, spoke about their time living at Indy House and how it helped them transition to life on their own. Both young men now work for UPS, and O'Brien is already rising through the ranks as a supervisor.

The Waldman family then celebrated with a birthday cake and had an opportunity to film messages to share with Bill. Afterward, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh took the family on a tour of the Great Falls and the newly-renovated Hinchliffe Stadium. The day ended with a stop to take in the majestic beauty of the Great Falls, where the family used the opportunity to take family photos.

NJCDC was delighted to host Bill and his family for the day and commemorate all that he has done for youth in New Jersey!

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