With horns blaring and people cheering from sunroofs and windows, Queens Centers for Progress, a Jamaica-based provider of supports and services for people with developmental disabilities, honored their essential Direct Support Professionals on April 23, with a cavalcade of 18 cars and 25 people that drove past the nine group homes that the agency operates in the borough.
Directors, staff, and elected officials including Assemblyman David Weprin and Councilman Barry Grodenchik joined the families of those who reside in the homes showed their appreciation and support for the dedicated staffers who take care of the residents through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The array of cars with signs on them gave the staff here a warm feeling of appreciation,” House Supervisor Angela Barnett said. “The individuals were also happy in taking pictures, cheering and clapping as all went by honking their horns. It was so nice that QCP did this for all of us. This was well appreciated.”
QCP, now in its 70th years of service to Queens, has 73 people residing at group homes in Jackson Heights, Jamaica Estates and Bellerose. Budgetary restraints make it difficult to attract and retain workers, but during the pandemic, the staff rose to the occasion, as many of the homes went into quarantine.
One family member was in tears as she stood outside the home that her brother lives in having not seen him in seven weeks of lockdown. The brother and sister communicate with phone and video calls and she wanted to be there to show her support for the people keeping her brother safe, many to their own detriment.
“Our staff is dedicated to the people whom we serve,” QCP Executive Director Terri Ross said. “They have put themselves and their families at considerable risk by agreeing to quarantine for two weeks in each of our homes.”
Despite the efforts the agency has made to keep its staff and individuals safe, including spending more than $90,000 on personal protection equipment, QCP has experienced the loss of five of its residents to the virus and underlying health issues. Despite the loss and the emotional and physical toll that caring for this vulnerable population entails, QCP staffers remain upbeat and are doing all they can to calm and comfort the residents while faced with the coronavirus.
“Working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take care of our individuals — they are truly heroes and represent the best of us,” Ross said. “This parade is to show our support and gratitude to our staff, for doing everything in their power to make sure our residents are safe and well cared for. They are our frontline heroes.”
To support the Queens Centers for Progress text: SupportQCP to 71777.