The small home in the South Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens seems like almost all the other houses on the block. Frank’s Residence has been part of Mercy Home for 13 years. Set in a quiet neighborhood as diverse as any in New York City, the former two family home with a small yard houses eight men with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Every day, the men work together to create a comfortable space.
The mornings here are hectic, as in any home. Mercy Home staff support them as they dress, make breakfast, and ready themselves for the day. Meals are based on each person’s preference. *Bob makes breakfast of eggs and corned beef hash for anyone who’s interested. Everyone pitches in to assist with laundry and clean up.
After breakfast, transportation arrives and everyone goes to their day program where their skills and interests are cultivated. When they return in the afternoon, the men drift into activities of their choosing. Some help make dinner, by preparing vegetables, creating a salad, or setting the table. Stanley wipes down the counter, Freddie washes dishes, and Omi dries.
In the evening, they break off for activities like going to the Brooklyn Museum, playing miniature golf, seeing a free concert in the park, or going to the arcade. When they return, they get ready for the next day – selecting tomorrow’s clothing and packing their lunch. At the end of the day, the men shower, grab a snack, or chat with the overnight staff.
Once a month, everyone sits down with the recreation calendar and plans their activities – when to see the latest action movie, go to a restaurant and even when to barbecue. Colleen Martindale, the Residence Manager, likes the community setting of the house. “It’s a pretty quiet neighborhood. The house has a huge yard and they have parties and barbecues back there all the time.”
As in most homes, family is important. Billy looks forward to visiting Harlem over the holidays. Omi heads to Staten Island. John Atchinson, whose son Tarik lives there, says that “The caring, real home atmosphere of Frank’s Residence is most helpful.” Tarik’s mother, Atitka McBarnett, is also very pleased with the direct support staff at Frank’s. “They treat us and our son with respect (and are) always willing to help.”
The men of Frank’s Residence are very involved in their community. Rob loves to recycle. He collects cans and goes to the recycling center twice a month. Omar loves to work and currently volunteers at the pizza shop refilling salt and pepper shakers and napkin holders and wiping down tables. He also volunteers at the barbershop, sweeping up hair.
Like Mercy Home’s 12 other residences, people’s choices matter. Feelings are important, people’s talents are nurtured, and community plays a huge role. Because our programming is founded on seeing abilities rather than disabilities, each person is empowered to make choices, maintain good health, have relationships with family and friends, and be connected to their community.
*Some of the men and women of Mercy Home work in local businesses around NYC. If you would like to learn more, please email email@example.com.