Six people, surrounded by their families, celebrated the completion of their new home on Jackson Road in Penfield on Wednesday.
The six-bedroom home, built to be fully accessible and customized to the people living there, will be staffed 24 hours a day by Heritage Christian Services, an organization that has built residential homes for people with disabilities for over three decades. The last home the organization built was in 2013.
Drew Bielemeier, Heritage's senior vice president of operations, said the project took 10 years to complete. He said changes in state funding, plus the pandemic, delayed the project several times for families waiting to move in.
“So you can imagine a lot of tears, a lot of frustration,” Beilemier said. “We worked with our partners at the DDSO, and OPWDD (New York state agencies responsible for coordinating services for people with disabilities) and they were able to pivot.”
Sandra Fantauzzo is one of the six people moving in. Her father, Dennis, said the home provides a sustainable future for children of aging caregivers like him.
“I love Heritage. I know these people. I've seen them in action before," Fantauzzo said. “I know they’re committed to taking good care of her and that’s what I wanted.”
Bielemeier said the new residence serves as a win for both the families and Heritage Christan Services.
“They know that they can stay together as a family over their life journey and bring such a level of peace of mind. And it's really good business,” Beilemier said.
June 1 is move-in day for Sandra and her five housemates.
Heritage is currently seeking additional direct support staff to work at the new residence. For more information, go to directsupport.org.
This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.