THE HISTORY OF
EASTERN CHRISTIAN CHILDREN'S RETREAT

For more information please call 201-848-8005
or email info@eccretreat.org

HISTORY

From its origin in 1965, one simple principle has guided the Eastern Christian Children’s Retreat: to serve individuals with disabilities so that they can reach their greatest potential.

In the early sixties, two nurses, Theresa “Tret” Bushman and Ann (Minnema) Morgan founded the Retreat.  They realized that there were no facilities locally for a home-like setting of care and treatment for children with mental and physical disabilities.  Compelled by their Christian belief of caring for those less fortunate, they organized hundreds of volunteers from the community to finance and construct a residential facility.  The idea seemed formidable.  Ultimately they approached the Christian Sanatorium in Wyckoff.  The Sanatorium, now known as the Christian Health Care Center, agreed to donate 10 acres of land for the facility.

Vigorous fundraising activities slowly propelled the project along so that in 1971 ground was broken and in 1972 the Eastern Christian Children's Retreat became a reality.  The residential facility opened on December 4, 1972.
 

THERESA "TRET" BUSHMAN
Ms. Theresa Bushman of Wyckoff was the driving force behind the founding of the Eastern Christian Children’s Retreat, the first private residential facility for people with developmental disabilities in the state of New Jersey. 

As a maternity nurse at Paterson General Hospital in the 1950’s, Ms. Bushman saw firsthand the need for a residential facility for disabled children.  With support from the community the fundraising began in 1962 with $40 in the bank.  The Retreat opened its doors in 1972.  Ms. Bushman has said, “When we built the Retreat building, I pinched myself and I still do each time I come up the road”.  The Retreat currently serves over 120 people with a broad range of disabilities in a congregate care facility and community based homes. 

Ms. Bushman has been the president of the Retreat’s Ladies Auxiliary for many years.
 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE ECCR'S HISTORY

1965
The Eastern Christian Children’s Retreat was incorporated as a non-profit organization under the laws of the state of New Jersey.  Fundraising began with a $40 bank deposit.
                     

December 4, 1972
The Retreat officially opened its residence to serve 85 children and young adults with developmental disabilities.

June 1984
Major renovations to main residence with an addition of East dormitory, which included classrooms and living areas to accommodate growing needs.

September 1987
The first community based group home is opened in Midland Park to accommodate 5 men.

May 1990
A second community group home in North Haledon is opened to accommodate 5 adolescents.

January 1992
A third community based group home is opened in North Haledon to 5 women.

January 1993
Two new on-site group homes adjacent to the main building are opened.

March 1994
The Retreat receives state approval to provide respite (short-term) care to families of individuals with disabilities.

January 1998
A third on-site group home is opened.

June 1999
A fourth group home is opened in Hawthorne in partnership with the Christian Health Care Center.

May 2000
A fifth community-based residence is opened in Midland Park for two women.

June 2001
The Retreat names the main residence in Wyckoff, The Bushman Building, in honor of co-founder and
long-term supporter, Theresa Bushman. 

January 2002
ECCR opened its first community-based adult day program in Prospect Park.

August 2009
A community-based group home opened in Midland Park for four women.

October 2012
Grand Re-Opening of Hilltop Group Home in North Haledon.