On Sunday, February 19, The Department for Persons with Disabilities (DPD) held its 47th Annual Murray House Dinner Dance at The Brownstone in Paterson. Over 400 people attended this event, including nearly all of the individuals who live in DPD programs.

Murray House is one of the 12 residential programs located in Clifton. Murray House is the longest running group home in the state of New Jersey, serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Six people call this house "home."

The Murray House Dinner Dance is one of our biggest events of the year. It is a beautiful night to recognize the people who the DPD serves and those who make a difference in their lives.

This year, the organization honored Joseph F. Duffy as the Person of the Year. Joe retired in 2016 as the President of Catholic Charities USA (Diocese of Paterson). Joe has been involved with DPD for over 45 years, first as a volunteer in the early 1970s. Joe has volunteered and been a board member for dozens of nonprofit organizations, including Catholic Relief Services. Joe was presented with the Person of the Year Award by Thomas Barrett, President of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Paterson, and with an award from the United States Congress by Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr.

The Clifton NJ Police Department and Fire Department were honored as our Public Servants of the Year. Mayor Jim Anzaldi of Clifton presented the awards and these fine individuals were recognized for their service, bravery, and kindness. Individuals from Murray House also presented both organizations with a handcrafted gift.

The Marilyn Murray Keenan Inspiration Award is named for our dear friend and sister Marilyn Murray Keenan, who had been involved with DPD for over 40 years until her untimely passing in 2007. Volunteering and living out the Catholic Social Teaching of "caring for the poor and vulnerable" was at the very heart of who she was. Kevin Murray.and Meghan Murray (Marilyn’s nephew and niece), along with John from Alexander House, presented the Award to Jennifer Minervino. Throughout the last two years Jenn has helped a countless number of people as DPD's Fight for the Right Community Service Group leader and as a Wiegand Farm Golf Classic Fundraising volunteer.

Jake Ferguson was honored as the DPD Employee of the Year.  Jake truly embodies the ideals of Catholic social teaching each day he comes to work. He is a joy to work with and is one of the most responsible, kind-hearted, and hardworking young men the DPD has ever met. Jake was surrounded by his immediate family members and was brought to tears by this surprise recognition.

For many, the best part of the evening is the presentation of the Frank X. Graves Award and the Jim and Kit Murray Outstanding Achievement Awards, to the individuals who live in our programs. The awards are named after Jim and Kit Murray in honor of the late Patriarch and Matriarch of the Murray Family. Christine from Barnet House, Matt from Kelleher Apartments, John from Basile Apartments, and Patty from Giuliano House received the highly anticipated awards.

Kaleigh, from Wehrlen House, was presented with the Frank X. Graves award, given in honor of the late mayor from Paterson. “I am so shocked and happy; I feel like I am going to cry,” said Kaleigh as she joyfully accepted the award, surrounded by 25 of her family members and housemates. Kaleigh will go on to be DPD’s representative at the New Jersey Association of Community Providers (NJACP) Community STARS Dinner in April.

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