Welcome to the Department for Persons with Disabilities (DPD) website. DPD is a Catholic Charities agency in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson. We are committed to serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with compassion, respect, and excellence. Since our agency was founded in 1965 by Msgr. John B. Wehrlen and throughout its history, DPD has had a strong commitment to the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.
DPD weaves these principles into everything we do with, for, and about people with disabilities. We believe that all human life is precious and that every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. We believe that every person has the right and the need to actively participate in society and to learn and grow in community. We believe that the people we serve have the same rights and responsibilities as all people who live in society including the right to productive work and fair wages.
Although every one of these principles is an integral part of who we are and what we do, the core principle that truly defines DPD is that of family. DPD is truly a family. There is not a conversation or a meeting that takes place where reference is not made to “the DPD Family.” Maybe I can explain what I mean by sharing one of many stories with you. Many of the people who live in our group homes have lived with us for over 35 years. In some cases, we are literally their only family. While no one can replace the love and care of parents, brothers and sisters, the DPD is often called upon to do just that. This story is about one of our residents who was a very special member of the DPD family.
Jimmy began attending our day program in Paterson in 1975 and he immediately touched our lives by his warm, loving smile, his deep blue eyes, and his ease of saying, I love you! When Jimmy’s mom passed away in 1987, Jimmy moved into Murray House, DPD’s first group home and the longest existing group home in the State of NJ. For the next 22 years Jimmy enjoyed life to the fullest. He lit-up a room when he walked into it and he was the life of every party. He loved dressing-up in his tuxedo whenever he was invited to a formal dinner dance and he was always the best dancer on the floor! Jimmy had many friends at DPD who loved him and truly cared about him. During the summer of 2009, Jimmy became very ill and was admitted to the hospital. While Jimmy was in the Intensive Care Unit, it was obvious to those at the hospital that he was someone very special and someone who was truly loved. One evening as I was sitting in the lobby of the hospital waiting for the next ICU visiting hours to begin, the nurse who had cared for him that day was leaving work. When she saw me, she stopped to talk. I asked how Jimmy was doing and she said, “He’s the same.” She then added, “He sure has a lot of people who love him”! It was so obvious by the constant stream of people who came to visit him, both residents and staff, that Jimmy’s DPD Family was there for him.
When Jimmy passed away on August 4th, he didn’t have any surviving relatives, but he had a family. He had the DPD family and more than 150 came to his funeral to honor and remember this wonderful man – and his old friend, Msgr. Wehrlen, was there to celebrate Jimmy’s life at his funeral.
When we say DPD is “the best”, I believe it is because of the love and the sense of “family” that permeates everything that we do. We have the most dedicated and caring staff and they promote and live the principles of Catholic Social Teaching each and every day.
I also believe that we are the best because we hold ourselves to the highest standards. DPD has been fully accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) since 1986 and is continually striving to improve all that we do. We will continue to “provide help and create hope” for people with disabilities.
To learn more about DPD and the wonderful work that we do, I invite you to look at all of the information on this website, visit and become a fan of DPD on Facebook, or contact us to schedule a personal visit.
Thank you for visiting our website and please consider making a donation to DPD so that we can continue to touch lives and serve people with compassion, respect and excellence.