Andover couple offer home, opportunities to special needs adults

'Life with Joy' brings just that to those aging out of system


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  • Founders, guests and staff. From left, back row - Brenda Fabula, Bernadette Wise, Kelly Keebler, Keir Keebler, Jordan Bryson, Susan Kolb, Laura Dempsey, Lori Gold. Front row - Devany Fabula, Harrison Wise, Arthur Kolb, Andrew Bryson, Teacher Yael Shacham, Michelle Letsche Photos provided




  • From left, back row - Arthur Kolb, Frank Mitchell, Gary Kolb, Bernadette Wise, Andrew Bryson, Scott Hamma. Front row - Jennifer Leonard, Helen Englehart, Bridget Smith, Rebecca Dawn Manrodt, Mike Ferrara, Jeremy Dobies, Ben Hamma, Harrison Wise




  • From left, back row - Teacher Sara Gallmann, Michelle Ledere, Bernadette Wise.Front Row - Harrison Wise, Andrew Bryson,Arthur Kolb, Mike Ferrara, Bridget Smith




  • From left, back row - Joel Wise, Bernadette Wise, Teacher Yael Shacham, Michelle Letsche. Front row - Arthur Kolb, Teacher Lara Gonzalez, Susan Kolb, Sara Gallmann, Harrison Wise




  • Harrison Wise, Rebecca Dawn Manrodt, Nate Druskin, Chef Gary Kolb




  • Chef Gary Kolb, Rebecca Dawn Manrodt




By Rose Sgarlato

— Founders Gary and Susan Kolb developed Life With Joy by trying to answer one question: Where does a special needs person go after aging out of the system at 21?

In trying to figure that out for their autistic son Arthur, now 25, Life With Joy Inc, a 501C3, was created in 2015 as a “place where young adults with and without autism can meet new friends and learn new skills.”

Certified by the state Department of Developmental Disabilities, Life With Joy teaches young adults with learning disabilities life skills, with the goal of creating self-sufficient and productive individuals.

At Life With Joy, three young adults, including Arthur, live with the Kolbs on their farm. There are other caregivers who work at Life With Joy. The move to fresh air was a natural transition for Arthur and his family.

“Arthur was born and raised in New York City. One of his teachers was from West Milford and she said that the good thing about being in the country was that it was quieter,” said Susan Kolb.

Focusing on agriculture and cooking to acquire skills is a main focus, Susan said.

“We want to provide vocational skills and promote independence. We do this through a variety of classes including social ones, too, on mixed martial arts, yoga and African drum.”

Providing real experiences and stimuli results in more learning and growing, she said.

There are a variety of programs and activities offered at www.lifewithjoyinc.com.

“The long-term plan is to have a second home, farm and retail shop where young adults with disabilities can work and live on their own,” said Susan. “And the money from our April 19 benefit at Perona Farms will go towards that."

Community integration, social enterprise and healthy living for all adults are major initiatives for Life With Joy Inc.

Based on Arthur’s testimonial , Life With Joy is doing just that:

"I love working feeding animals and growing vegetables and flowers," he said. "I learn new things every day. My teacher is teaching me body building so I can be strong like my Dad. My aides David and Rachel are my friends and my drivers. They help me be independent. I have a lot to do and want to prove that people with autism can do real work. Life With Joy is my house where I can live independently with my friends. I have pets. I love pruning in the garden and watering the plants. Dad is a great chef and is teaching me. One day I will have a girlfriend and one day I will get married. This is my dream. It is called Life With Joy."








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