How do you live a fulfilling and productive life if you’re developmentally or intellectually disabled? In Staten Island, the people of Community Resources—who have been grappling with this question for more than 50 years—are providing answers for more than 3,500 adults and children annually.
With a broad range of programs, advocacy and referral services, Community Resources creates opportunities and experiences for people often left out of mainstream society—helping them reach their potential, achieve as much independence as possible, and lead rewarding lives as contributing members of the community.
Operating in 24 sites throughout Staten Island, Community Resources covers everything from preschool/early learning to communication and daily living skills for profoundly challenged adults to job coaching and work readiness (including auto mechanics training) to the pleasures of the arts. Homes can be a single apartment to group homes of 5-10 individuals, depending on needed levels of support.
IDB was instrumental in improving our financial health, they understand our mission and our challenges and do everything they can to support us.
“It starts with caring,” says Dana Magee, a Vietnam veteran who’s been Executive Director and CEO since 1997. “We have a committed, hands-on, family approach to everything we do, which extends to all our residents and staff.”
“We strive to help people make choices for themselves and gain the level of independence they want, whether it’s choosing a movie to see or volunteering or working in the community,” he explains. “There are no words for the pride and satisfaction people feel when they accomplish something they thought was impossible and are appreciated for their contribution.”
Finding the resources to build on the agency’s legacy of success, however, is always a challenge, Dana says, especially in an age of government and corporate cost cutting.
“Elderly parents of adult children who need care are faced with a terrible dilemma,” explains Barbara Mercado, Associate Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, who’s been with the agency for more than 30 years after starting her career as a teacher. “We have a long waiting list for our group homes because we provide a safe and nurturing environment with the support people need.”
One way Community Resources generates income is through its Special Tees division, Staten Island’s largest screen printing, embroidery and promotional merchandise business, which provides training and employment for people traditionally considered “unemployable.”
“We operate a respected non-profit business that assists people with a mental health issue and/or intellectual disability to acquire marketable skills, become self-sufficient, and build their self-confidence,” Barbara says. “This is done in an environment where we can accommodate the functional challenges of daily life presented by their diagnosis,” she adds.
We think about how to do more and be better at what we do 24 hours a day,” Dana says. “Like our own family members, people with challenges need support, and we feel privileged to provide it.
With revenue from Special Tees, Medicaid and other state funding, and private contributions, Community Resources is able to maintain its multidimensional services and programs. A strong banking relationship is also important.
“Most banks didn’t get how we worked, but IDB does,” says longtime Chief Financial Officer Mark D’Agostino, a CPA and former auditor. “Thanks to IDB, we refinanced and bought all our homes, rather than lease them, which saved us money that we used to raise our minimum starting salary, give others raises and improve our homes,” Mark says.
As for the future, the management team hopes to create skilled nursing home capabilities for the oldest residents, a charter school for children with developmental and intellectual disabilities and, of course, more residential facilities for those on the waitlist.