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Our Work Continues: Perseverance and Compassion in our Homes for Adults with Developmental Disabilities (Part 2)

Liv Lauser

For over 150 years, The New York Foundling has worked in partnership with our neighbors to ensure that everyone can meet their full potential when facing challenging situations. This hasn’t changed, and our staff continue to provide life-changing and meaningful support in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This series shares how The Foundling’s many programs are responding to the needs of their community.

While some adults with developmental disabilities are able to live independently, or in the care of a close family member, others require more intensive round-the-clock services tailored to their level of need. For these people, many of whom have complex medical needs, The Foundling provides supportive and nurturing housing that is fully integrated into the surrounding community. The Foundling provides residential services for people with developmental disabilities in all five boroughs of New York City and in Westchester, Rockland, and Orange Counties.

We help the people in our residential programs engage with their community, gain more autonomy, and participate in gainful activities – from day programs to volunteer work and paying jobs.

As we featured last week, the incredible residential services staff of our Developmental Disabilities Division have selflessly worked the frontlines since the pandemic began, adapting to every challenge they have been faced with, while also providing round-the-clock support to the people in our care.

Across all of our residences, we’ve heard countless stories of staff working tirelessly – and often beyond their usual schedule – to fill the needs in our programs. Direct Support Provider Sandra Thompson, for example, did not hesitate to cover an overnight shift the day a client in the residence where she works received confirmation of COVID-19 infection.  “She had just become an American citizen and felt it was her civic duty to go in and help wherever needed,” Assistant Vice President Mary Pell Bidwell, supervisor for Sandra’s residence, shared.

Similarly, Brian Montilla was asked to temporarily relocate his work to a residence that was hit hard by COVID-19. As one might imagine, this was a difficult request to make, as Brian would be going from a familiar workplace where no clients were COVID positive to a home that had multiple cases of sick residents and staff. In addition to an unfamiliar location, he did not know any of the residents or staff, and had to quickly adapt in a crisis situation with new and different stressors.

“Brian is a team player,” Assistant Vice President Renee Pili shared, “and, as usual, he politely accepted the directive and provided support at the other location for over a month as the situation there stabilized. Through all of this, Brian performed his duties calmly, professionally, and with a smile.”

In the same vein, Felecia Sloan immediately adjusted her schedule to fill shifts after our day habilitation programs closed. Felecia went above and beyond to arrange a socially distant celebration for a resident who was hospitalized on his birthday. Thanks to Felecia’s initiative, via a video call, the staff and residents sang happy birthday and watched the candles be blown out.

“Our staff have really gone above and beyond to uplift the spirits of our residents,” Mary Pell continued, “Von Hemert, one of our residence managers, connected with the community to receive deli food donations for residences. She personally picked up the donations and delivered them to residents!”

Staff members Diaka Doumbouya and Reginald Mason have displayed the same degree of creativity and thoughtfulness. “Diaka brings her skills as a beautician to the residence and pampers the ladies who are accustomed to going to the hair salon,” Assistant Vice President Thelma Adams Moore said, “And Reginald has served residents roast duck with stuffing and all the fixings. He also does smoothie bars and engages them in the kitchen with meal preparation.”

Liv Lauser

Residence Manager Liv Lauser received PPE donations from the city government to protect residents.

Despite the incredible pressure they’ve endured, these staff members – and many others – have displayed incredible compassion and creativity. Thank you to the valiant staff of our residential services for their selfless service.

To learn more about how The New York Foundling is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, visit our emergency response page. Stay tuned for more stories from the frontlines as we continue to support our neighbors on paths to stability and strength.

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