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Letter: In defense of group homes and residents

A nonprofit that serves people with developmental disabilities

A nonprofit that serves people with developmental disabilities plans to open a group home for five adults at this house at 28 Schuyler Dr. in Commack, shown on March 7, 2018. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

In a letter about a proposed group home for four people, a reader raises safety concerns for students at neighboring Commack High School, as well as for young children on his block who play outside [“Concern about plan for group home,” Letters, April 25].

This may come as a shock to the writer, but there are students with special needs at Commack High School. Does he believe other students are in danger because some of their peers have special needs? What characteristics does he think people with special needs possess? They often are people with disabilities who work hard every day to maximize their potential and fit into a society that often doesn’t understand or misinterprets their needs.

When I read about school shootings, violent crimes and other heinous acts, the suspects usually are typical individuals who have misguided hatred. I think those are the people we need to fear.

As the parent of a 32-year-old daughter with autism, I am thankful that my friends and neighbors do not share this writer’s ideas. We have lived two houses away from an elementary school for 30 years, and no one has ever feared for their safety because of my child.

Gayle V. Fremed,

  North Woodmere

When a neighbor sold his house several years ago, nearby homeowners found out it was going to a nonprofit organization. We had questions and suspicions about who would live there. The organization was Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, the same organization that intends to establish a group home for four adults in Commack.

We couldn’t be more happy with the three to five residents. We welcomed them to our neighborhood. No noise comes from the home, the yard is kept up. The residents go to work and mind their own business. Don’t make harsh decisions.

Camille Morselli,

  Islip Terrace

I find it troubling that Newsday would publish “Concern about plan for group home,” a letter that stokes fear of people with developmental disabilities in neighborhoods.

The ironic part is that April was Autism Awareness Month. Throughout history, people with developmental disabilities are the ones who have been subjected to prejudice and intolerance. They have disabilities that require assistance such as autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy.

The writer says he is concerned for the well-being of the children on the block and students at the nearby high school. This is nonsense.

Since the discovery of the atrocities of the Willowbrook facility of the 1970s, all parents of children with developmental disability worry day and night about what will happen to a child when they are gone.

My 26-year-old son has autism. I only wish he could find a group home where he could live a productive life. Our children have the right to live healthy, normal lives in our communities and not be hidden away in places like Willowbrook. If you take the time to get to know our children, you will find out how special they are and how they can benefit a neighborhood.

James Murtha,

  Mineola

Unhappy with coming Chisholm monument

Oh, my! As someone born in Brooklyn who has worked as an artist, I am offended by the comic-strip look of the 40-foot monument to Shirley Chisholm that is planned for installation next year in Prospect Park [“First look at Chisholm monument,” News, April 25].

She wasn’t blond, of course. Where is the elegance? I sincerely hope this project is reconsidered before it is implemented. I believe Shirley Chisholm would agree. She should be depicted in a much more refined light.

Diana De Santis,

  Whitestone

Editor’s note: The writer teaches at the Pastel Society of America in Manhattan and at the Village Artist in Huntington.  

Hempstead Town Board is at loose ends

Members of the Hempstead Town Board need to accept that Anthony Santino lost the election for supervisor in 2017 and that residents elected a successor.

The April 18 news story “Gillen cites budget issues, seeks hire freeze” provides more examples of the Republican-dominated board’s dysfunction in working with Democratic Supervisor Laura Gillen.

Five parks positions have been created, and apparently will be funded with money from other departments and retirement savings. A Republican club leader got a deputy commissioner job with a $16,000 raise that potentially could affect senior services, and yet, Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney says the town is living within its budget.

What about the funding of the other departments that apparently will get shortchanged to pay for the new parks jobs? And then we have the board postponing the hiring of eight part-time employees because there isn’t money in the budget. And in typical fashion, Councilman Anthony D’Esposito deflected the whole mess to cite Gillen’s staff payroll of $2 million, which Gillen said is less than what Santino paid his staff.

Elections are coming, and if board members can’t play nice, residents might elect people who can. We’re getting tired of this nonsense.

Phil Cicciari,

Westbury

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