Queens Centers for Progress keeps group homes running on acts of kindness

Flowers3 (2)
Photos via Queens Centers for Progress

It was just over a month ago when hundreds attended the Queens Centers for Progress 24th annual “Evening of Fine Food” fundraiser at Terrace on the Park to benefit the agency that provides support to children and adults who have developmental disabilities. 

“All hell broke loose just a week later with the arrival of the coronavirus emergency,” QCP Director of Development Wendy Phaff said.

Every day since has brought new challenges as the human services agency continues to operate nine group homes across the borough that house 78 individuals.

Jessica Dubinsky receives a birthday cake and balloon at the home she is living in.

“Five of these homes are currently under quarantine due to staff or residents testing positive,” Phaff said. “Let me tell you about one special heroine, Jessica Dubinsky, who volunteered to leave her husband and two teenage kids to care for our individuals in a quarantined home. Jessica’s birthday was on March 24 and the residential director at the home asked for someone to pick up a small cake for our staff in quarantine. An hour later, a cake and a balloon appeared at the doorstep to Jessica’s home and with tears, she greatly accepted this kind gesture.”

A member of the QCP staff, Corey Thompson, who had been working tirelessly for weeks made the delivery himself. It isn’t just the QCP staff that is going the extra mile during trying times.

Meals have been donated by the community and businesses.

“Every day brings a beautiful kindness that people are showing us. The community and businesses are taking care of us,” Phaff said. “MumsKitchenNYC and P’s Bakery and Catering who took part in our Evening of Fine Food have been preparing meals for our homes. The Queens borough president’s office and Fresh Direct have provided groceries. A florist in Manhattan, Empire Cut Flowers, had a huge delivery just when the emergency made them shut down their business and instead of letting all of those flowers wither and die they sent them to our homes to cheer everyone up.”

The 600 staff members of QCP have also volunteered their time to make sure that hundreds of homebound individuals who live all over Queens are provided meals and groceries.

QCP staff is required to wear PPE in the homes.

“Of course it’s not all rainbows and unicorns,” Phaff said. “We’re also running around trying to gather Personal Protection Equipment because we are required to wear them in all of the homes so we’re competing against hospitals, nursing homes and other group homes. We spent $70,000 on PPE in the last two weeks. The cards are always stacked against us. It’s been an interesting month that seems like a year.”

QCP is hoping for more acts of kindness such as meal donations for 15 people at a time, to source more PPE going forward or to offer cash donations to keep these group homes functioning. The agency is also hoping for registered nurses to volunteer their time.

QPC staff making the best of things on their 14th day of quarantine.

Anyone interested in donating can email wphaff@queenscp.org or call her at 646-801-8786.