EAST BRUNSWICK — Easterseals New Jersey has been around since 1948. That's an impressively long run for the nonprofit, but not as long as its national parent group, which is marking its 100th birthday this year.

Brian Fitzgerald, Easterseals NJ CEO, said the organization provides health and social services to residents with disabilities, enabling them to live, learn, work, and play in their communities. The New Jersey outlet is one of 71 affiliates nationwide, and currently serves 8,000 individuals and families in the state — part of some 200,000 the group has helped in the last 71 years.

The national organization's founder initially had outpatient clinics for children with disabilities in mind. But a century later, Easterseals helps both adults and kids and, for the adults, looks to identify employment services and supportive housing in all 21 Garden State counties, as well as to advocate for a more inclusive society, according to Fitzgerald.

"We're focused on trying to increase the awareness of including people with disabilities in the social and recreational opportunities within the communities within New Jersey," he said. "As changes have occurred within our society toward people with disabilities, as well as policy changes in the government and economic conditions, Easterseals has continued to evolve."

Easterseals NJ will participate in a discussion with Congressional delegates in Washington, D.C. on March 27, to talk about continued legislative support for the needs of those with disabilities. This will be followed by a gala dinner as part of national Easterseals' 100th anniversary. Another event in June will also highlight the nonprofit's century mark.

The organization generates its revenue from government funding, in addition to donations from corporations, foundations, and individuals.

For more, visit easterseals.com/nj.

Patrick Lavery is Senior Producer of Morning News and Special Programming for New Jersey 101.5, and is lead reporter and substitute anchor for "New Jersey's First News." Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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