Spectrum360’s adult services program, Independence360, is proof that amazing things can happen when you have an idea, a motivated individual and a rockstar support system to turn the idea into reality. Thanks to that magic formula, what began over a decade ago as a simple notion from a dedicated clinician at Academy360 has evolved into one of the top adult day habilitation centers in the state of New Jersey.

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In the early 2000’s Kim Rushmore, now Program Director of Independence360, had already spent more than a decade as a clinician at Academy360, where she had nurtured and supported countless students. Many of these young adults had developed lasting bonds with Kim during their time at the school. However, once they turned 21 years old and aged out of the services, the community they had come to know so well was suddenly taken from them. They were left feeling lost and anxious, not knowing what to do with themselves.

These former students began to reach out to Kim, sharing their struggles and yearning for the connection they once had. This tug at Kim’s heartstrings led her to initiate a Homecoming event, bringing them all back together for a few hours. The joy and happiness that radiated from these adults during this gathering were undeniable, but it became apparent that they needed more than just a brief reunion.

In 2009, Kim decided to establish a regular Alumni Fun & Games night, a monthly gathering that still takes place today. While she cherished the happiness it brought to these adults, she couldn’t ignore the fact that some of their skills were regressing without the structured support they needed. That’s when she envisioned a more comprehensive solution.

2013: Adults working the store – one of  I360’s small businesses.

Kim took her idea to Dr. Bruce Ettinger, the Executive Director of Spectrum360 at that time. She proposed the concept of an adult education night, which she would run herself while maintaining her full-time clinician role. After six months of demonstrating its potential, Kim approached Bruce with an even more ambitious proposal: the creation of an Adult Education/Day Habilitation program. Despite the lack of available financing, Bruce had unwavering faith in Kim Rushmore and her vision. And so, the adventure began.

In October 2013, The Center for Independence opened its doors, starting with just six rooms in the newly established Livingston campus. The Fab 6, the first participants in the program, embarked on a journey that would become known as Independence360.

2017: Ribbon-cutting ceremony to open Independence360’s Whippany campus.

A decade later, Independence360 has grown beyond anyone’s initial expectations, blossoming into a thriving community boasting 140 members, a dedicated staff of 55, and over 100,000 square feet of space on its current Whippany campus. The center has become a haven for adults with unique abilities, offering tailored programs in vocational training, life skills and recreational activities. The initial alumni fun and games nights (which is still held monthly) paved the way for a life-changing environment that celebrates individuality and fosters personal growth.

Independence360 has not only transformed the lives of the adults it serves but also touches the hearts of their families and the community. This vital program is a living reminder that extraordinary journeys often begin with a simple yet powerful idea, and when paired with a visionary leader, an unwavering support system, engaged community, committed partners and generous donors — something truly amazing is born. 

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To learn more about Independence360 visit Spectrum360.org/Independence360 or donate to the program at donate.spectrum360.org.