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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.

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