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November 7, 2014


(Newark, NJ) – The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders proclaimed the month of November as “National Family Caregivers Month in Essex County” during a ceremony at the Hall of Records during the Board’s Thursday, November 6, 2014, meeting.  The resolution was sponsored by Freeholder President Blonnie R. Watson of Newark, who presented it to Deborah Day, Caregiver Coalition Coordinator, and Carol DeGraw, Director of Community Impact, for the United Way of Northern New Jersey and North Essex, and Mary Davis, Acting Deputy Director of the Essex County Division of Senior Services.

During the Freeholder Board’s Thursday, November 6, 2014, meeting at the Hall of Records in Newark, Freeholder President Blonnie Watson (far right) presented the Board’s Resolution proclaiming November as “National Family Caregivers Month in Essex County” to: (from left to right) Mary Davis, Acting Deputy Director of the Essex County Division of Senior Services; and Deborah Day, Caregiver Coalition Coordinator, and Carol DeGraw, Director of Community Impact, for the United Way of Northern New Jersey and North Essex.  (Photo by Glen Frieson)

“Tonight we want to draw attention to members of our families, friends and neighbors, as well as millions of others across the country who share the role of family caregiver”, said Freeholder President Watson.  “These are people too often overlooked who carry a heavy burden that also takes a heavy toll on them while they care for others, often under conditions of extreme emotional stress.  But at least in the month of November”, she added, “we join others across the nation to pay tribute to family caregivers with the proclamation of November as ‘National Family Caregivers Month’”.

Freeholder Carol Clark also spoke emotionally about caring for her 85-year old mother who recently suffered a stroke, “and in a heartbeat, both of our lives changed forever.”  “This is a subject that touches me, as it has or will touch just about all of us, as we become caregivers for members of our families, or eventually come to rely on others to care for us.” She went on to say, “But as for me and my mom, she’s my best buddy, I wouldn’t have it any other way, and we’re going to ride it until the wheels fall off.”

Deborah Day, the United Way’s Caregiver Coalition Coordinator, thanked the freeholders and the County for being so supportive of United Way’s efforts over the last three years, and spoke about the efforts of the Caregiver Coalition of social services and faith-based agencies that endeavor to provide caregivers with a host of resources.  She also spoke about the Coalition’s information guide, “Pathways for Caregivers”, which provides information for those providing care for the aged, people with disabilities or mental illness.  “This is a wonderful guide”, said Day, “for those who are thrust into the role of a caregiver, which usually happens overnight.”

“Our goal is to provide information, education, resources and support”, said Carol DeGraw, United Way’s Director of Community Impact, “and most of all, to let caregivers know that they are not in this alone… that there is support out there for them.”  She also expressed her appreciation to the Essex County Division of Senior Services for its collaboration and funding for United Way’s production of an informed caregiver video series, which is available online or on DVD.

Mary Davis of the County’s Division of Senior Services, speaking on behalf of Director Jaklyn DeVore, said “It is an honor to be in partnership with United Way to provide this needed service.  We are very passionate about it and support it wholeheartedly.”

The Freeholder Board’s resolution proclaiming November as “National Family Caregivers Month” addresses the universality of caregiving and praised family caregivers for their personal sacrifices.  Caregiving is a universal reality that touches almost every family.  Over 169,000 residents of Essex County provide some level of care for loved ones with issues of aging, disability, or mental illness.  Family, friends and neighbors are the mainstay of our long-term health care system nationally, with an estimated 80% of long-term care provided in the home saving taxpayers an estimated $450 billion a year.
Family caregivers are the only people who are present with patients in all care settings.  Patients may have more than one doctor; nurses change shifts; prescriptions may be filled at different pharmacies.  But family caregivers are there as full partners with their loved ones through it all.  Caregivers must become experts in medical info and treatment, legal documents, finances, insurance, benefits, advocacy, and emotional support; and caregiving affects the whole family. 

Caregivers, who are front and center in providing care, often put their own health – physical, emotional, and financial – at risk in order to care for their loved ones  Men are now almost as likely to say they are family caregivers as women are (37% of men; 40% of women).  And 36% of younger Americans between ages 18 and 29 are family caregivers as well.  In Essex County, it is estimated that 28.5% of residents over the age of 18, or nearly 170,000, are family caregivers.

For more information and/or to request the “Pathways for Caregivers” information guide or caregivers online video/DVD, contact Deborah Day, Caregivers Coalition Coordinator at the United Way of Northern New Jersey, North Essex, at 973-746-4040 x209, fax 973-746-6207, or online at Deborah.Day@UnitedWayNNJ.org and www.UnitedWayNNJ.org.

Freeholder President Watson is completing her 18th year as an At-Large Freeholder, and will leave office at the end of the year.  Freeholder Clark has represented District 3 (East Orange, Orange, South Orange and parts of Newark’s West and Central Wards) for 12 years, and will also leave office on December 31st.


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For Additional Information:
Gary Kroessig, Public Information
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders


Board of Chosen Freeholders, County of Essex
Hall of Records - Room 558, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., Newark, New Jersey 07102
Tel: (973) 621-4486 Fax: (973) 621-5695