Tag Archives: Independence Residences

Celebrating 25 years of advocacy at Independence Residences

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

For a quarter of a century, Independence Residences, Inc. (IRI) has been making a difference.

The not-for-profit human services agency, incorporated in 1988, provides residential and community support to people with developmental disabilities and visual or other impairments.

Parents of blind, multiply handicapped, and developmentally disabled children founded IRI in 1984. They were worried about their children aging out of existing services.

From that beginning, IRI was designed to create opportunities where none existed: a chance for adults who are disabled to live more rewarding lives as integrated members of society, in homes designed for their special needs and with an extensive circle of support to give them access to work, volunteer, learn, grow and dream within their communities.

As the agency celebrates its 25th year, the mission remains the same while IRI broadens the range of services it provides and supports people with autism and other developmental disabilities.

This past year, IRI expanded its Crisis Intervention services to include the Bronx. IRI opened the “sister” residence to its 94th Street residence, where individuals who lived in a large 12 person rectory now live in six person homes, each with their own bedroom. IRI also recently began operating apartments.

“Over the last 25 years, our achievements have directly improved the lives of those we support,” said Ray Denatale, CEO of Independent Residences, Inc.

Because of the organization’s work, two people with developmental disabilities fulfilled their dream of getting married, having a child and enjoying life like others in their neighborhood.

Most recently, Independence Residences was invited to become a Compass agency of the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). This honor reflects OPWDD’S belief that IRI has gone beyond the quality standards that have been set. As part of this honor and responsibility, IRI will participate in Focused Case Studies that will assess components of managed care for people with developmental disabilities as they are planned, to be implemented in the People First Waiver beginning with pilot Developmental Disabilities Individual Services and Supports Coordination Organizations (DISCOs) in 2013.

IRI’s 25th year will keep long-held traditions. There will be four major fundraisers and the 10th annual spring gala will celebrate 25 years of service. The black-tie event held at the Glen Island Harbor Club in New Rochelle, New York, is legendary for its elegance, fine cuisine, open bar, raffle prizes and both a silent and live auction. This year it will also be a special occasion to say thank you to those who have supported and helped the organization grow over the last 25 years.

To learn more, visit www.in-res.org.


More than 300 come out for 4th Annual IRI Walkabout

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Part of the idea, organizers said, was to show how the developmentally disabled people of Independence Residences, Inc. (IRI) are really capable of many things.

More than 300 people came out for the 4th Annual IRI Walkabout and Picnic at Cunningham Park on Saturday, July 28, to walk, eat and show their support.

“It’s a great event,” said Assemblymember Mike Miller, who has attended the event every year. “We started with a few people the first year and you saw how big it was this year. Pretty soon we’re going to outgrow the park.”

IRI executive director Ray DeNatale said he modeled the event after the Australian ritual of “walkabout,” a time of self-evaluation and renewal.

The late Florence D’Urso, wife of the founder and president of Key Food, was memorialized at the event for the supermarket chain’s dedication to supporting IRI. Walk organizers said the store has provided free food every year IRI has had a picnic. Cooking was done by the Glendale Kiwanis Club, said Miller, who is also a member.

This year IRI celebrates its 25th anniversary as an incorporated organization. In that time, the group has helped a number of disabled people find jobs and shared apartments.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo was named an honorary grand marshal for the day, along with Miller. IRI’s ability to help the disabled was an inspiration to elected officials, Addabbo said, and in turn it was their duty to ensure IRI and other organizations continue to get funding.

“What I want to center on is to protect funding for early intervention,” he said. The walk and picnic’s growing turnout spoke to the abilities of the organization and those who use it, said DeNatale, who has been with IRI for more than 11 years.

“Today was a great day,” he said. “I’m very, very thankful for all the people who came up and show support for us.”