Helping people move forward.
- Services for Youth
- Services for Adults
- Services for Seniors
- News & Information
- Resources & Insights
Helping people move forward.
Celebrating 50 years of helping people move forward
Three community leaders in Pequannock Township, N.J., were among the first to heed a societal shift in the early1960s of a growing population struggling to cope with the demands of life. The Rev. Donner A. Atwood of The First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains, Dr. Kurt Manrodt and municipal judge Herbert Irwin each realized he alone could not fix the problem, so they, along with concerned residents Mary Jane Kelly and James Ryan, joined forces to find a solution.
What the community desperately needed, they realized, was an organization that could provide professional treatment close to home. They understood that helping people bring balance to their lives would in turn strengthen the community.
On December 23, 1963, NewBridge Services, Inc. was founded as the Pequannock Valley Mental Health Center and opened its doors in the former Pompton Plains library, next to town hall. Its mission: to provide mental health services to adults and children in Pequannock and five neighboring towns in eastern Morris County.
The agency continually expanded its scope of services and the towns it covered. It wasn’t until 1998 – the year it earned national accreditation and began serving Passaic County – that it became NewBridge Services. The new name helped the organization build its identity as a premier service provider in northern New Jersey.
Back in 1977, NewBridge tripled in size. Its part-time Day Treatment Center went full time, emergency psychiatric services were added and counseling for at-risk clients increased. That same year, NewBridge became one of the first mental health agencies in New Jersey to create a Youth Services Bureau to focus on the needs of children and adolescents with mental illness.
In 1980, when the state was still heavily reliant on boarding homes for people released from psychiatric hospitals, NewBridge created a state-funded, long-term community residence for older adults who had been hospitalized five years or more – the first of its kind in New Jersey.
With the departure of a long-term executive director in 1992, NewBridge was at a crossroads, faced with a choice that would decide its very existence: remain independent despite financial uncertainty or allow an area hospital to absorb the nonprofit. The board voted 11 to 1 to cede independence, but the lone dissent cast by member Marie Cetrulo prompted the board to reassess its position. After a great deal of investigation and soul-searching, the board determined that the commitment NewBridge had made to its communities would be diminished if it followed that path. The board then voted unanimously to stay true to its mission.
That same year, NewBridge introduced the NewBridge 450 Program, providing 18 hours a day of intensive treatment services for former psychiatric patients living in boarding homes. (NewBridge had been providing some services to former psychiatric hospital patients since the late 1970s, when it established relationships with several boarding homes.) NewBridge again showed foresight in the mid-1990s when it created a drop-in center for boarding home residents.
NewBridge saw another unmet need of providing homes for individuals with persistent and chronic mental illness when their families no longer could. A two-year study by eight NewBridge families culminated with the opening of NewBridge's first affordable housing project in Lincoln Park in 2000. In 2006, NewBridge pledged to provide 100 additional units of affordable housing within five years – a goal it achieved in 2011. Working in partnership with government agencies, municipalities and other nonprofits, NewBridge to date has created more than 200 units of housing in seven counties, and another 57 units are in development. Most are devoted to people with special needs.
Helping individuals in crisis has always been a pillar of NewBridge, and that commitment led the organization to take on the role of community first responder. NewBridge has been on the front lines helping communities in Morris and Passaic counties cope with natural disasters since the mid-1980s. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, NewBridge collaborated with other mental health providers, social services agencies and health care providers to create the Morris County Human Services Response Network, which the state recognized for its best practices. The effort led to New Jersey becoming one of the first states to certify disaster response crisis counselors.
NewBridge remains true to its counseling roots, from helping families and individuals get through tough times to treating acute mental illness. NewBridge has specialized services for those resistant to treatment, and day programs for more intensive care. In 2001, NewBridge Enrich took root, helping clients develop skills for life and the workforce by tending a garden through a nationally recognized horticultural program. NewBridge Enrich connects clients with the outside world, helping to break down stereotypes about the mentally ill and beautify the community.
The founders of NewBridge were ahead of the curve in creating an organization adept at assessing and meeting the needs of its communities. That forward-thinking approach transformed NewBridge from a small mental health agency into a multi-service community nonprofit that helps more than 10,000 people – from young children to seniors – every year.
In 2012, NewBridge grew again when it created its Child and Family Services program to serve clients of the state Division of Child Protection and Permanency. Recognizing NewBridge's expertise in children's mental health services, New Jersey chose NewBridge over eight other providers and awarded the nonprofit a $1.4 million contract to serve victims of serious abuse and neglect, as well as their families, living in Morris and Sussex counties.
NewBridge has received numerous accolades over the years. In 2012 alone, the NewBridge Evans Place Housing project won a Governor's Excellence in Housing and Economic Development Award, and Chief Executive Officer Robert L. Parker won the prestigious Ann Klein Advocate Award, which recognizes those who make extraordinary contributions to improving the lives of people with disabilities.
NewBridge now employs more than 200 professionals who help people through five core program areas: counseling, addiction, housing, youth programs and senior services. With its headquarters still in Pequannock, NewBridge has offices in eight other towns and manages housing across six counties. It is licensed by the state Department of Human Services to provide mental health and addiction services and certified by the state Department of Community Affairs to build special needs housing.
Like NewBridge's founders, today's leadership is committed to helping people move forward by tracking shifts in communities' needs and providing innovative, effective programs to meet them. As NewBridge embarks on its next 50 years, it stands as a premier provider of counseling services, housing and educational programs in northern New Jersey.
NewBridge Services, a 501c(3) nonprofit, is a premier provider of counseling services, housing and educational programs in northern New Jersey serving 8,500 adults and seniors last year alone. NewBridge treats mental illnesses and addictions; teaches skills for coping with stress, grief and challenging relationships; builds and manages affordable housing; offers school-based programs that teach children and adolescents resiliency skills for healthy emotional development; helps young adults succeed in their education and prepare for careers; and supports seniors so they can remain independent. Throughout its more than 50-year history, NewBridge has remained true to its mission of bringing balance to people’s lives by tracking shifts in communities’ needs and providing innovative, effective programs to meet them.