Roebling Arms recognizes community for twentieth anniversary celebration

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Gathered in front of the Roebling Arms’ main entrance, residents and local officials came together to be recognized and celebrate the Arms’ twentieth anniversary on Sept. 20 with multiple years of award-winning service to the community.

Built in 1998, the Roebling Arms apartment is a two-story complex built on land donated by Florence Township, designed to focus on serving the special needs of disabled persons.

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As the building’s site manager for the past 12 years, Donna Tolifero, was on hand to present various honors to members in the township and her tenants for their attributed efforts to the facility.

“I really wanted to build a network within the community and get the people to understand what this concept is because everything in this building is designed specifically so people can be independent and more mobile,” Tolifero said. “The goal was to train the community to understand that this is an option for people to actually be more independent so they don’t have to go right into nursing homes.”

The federally subsidized building features many special services to help the disabled live a more liberated lifestyle such as being a barrier-free facility that offers residents a feeling of independence, which they can’t experience in a traditional apartment building.

Over the years, Roebling Arms has received various awards under Tolifero’s supervision, including honors from the New Jersey Apartment Association for Property Manager of the Year, Excellence in Property Management, Excellence in Resident Relations, Property Office Staff of the Year and recently presented with the National Communities of Quality Award for Exemplary Development for Residents with Special Needs.

Jim McGrath, Roebling Arms property manager and the founder and chairman of PRD Management, said Tolifero helped bring his vision for the facility’s services to fruition.

“We want the building to serve the people, so we want it to be the best possible building it can be,” McGrath said. “We’ve been in business for 40 years, so when we opened our first property, my attitude was, ‘if my mother had to live here, what would I want it be like,’ so having someone like Donna here whose got that same mindset and heart – this is her community and she’s really interested in seeing people come together and function as a community.”

Although the building has garnered praise on a state and nationwide level, Mayor Craig Wilkie of Florence Township believes the Roebling Arms is just as much of a vital part to the local community.

“For this facility to be here now 20 years later – it’s a recognition of commitment to support those who have special needs and to be able to provide an affordable home to them,” Wilkie said. “It’s a commitment and a partnership for the residents.”

Just before the day’s events concluded, a surprise ribbon cutting ceremony was held to showcase newly presented artwork in the building, another initiative of Tolifero’s.

“I wanted to bring art and culture to the building and liven up the area,” said Tolifero. “The best moments for me here have been seeing my visions come to life.”

While the staff and residents reentered the building to observe the newest addition to the building’s décor, McGrath acknowledged the day’s proceedings were a testament for the building’s continuous effort to provide years of affordable housing to disabled persons.

“I think it becomes an opportunity for people who need barrier-free housing in the future to be able to come into a community like Roebling, that’s a really nice community, and the values of Florence Township are very much like the community I grew up in,” McGrath said. “It’s a welcoming center for the community, so people that people who come to live here – I hope that they’re able to engage on a broader scale other than just in the village.”

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