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Celebrating 50 years, Life’s WORC opens its 44th residential home

Life's WORC's staff and residents celebrate the opening of a new home with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

The Family Center for Autism, a program by nonprofit Life’s WORC, celebrated the completion of its 44th residential home in Rosedale with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 30, three days after the organization marked its 50th anniversary.

Life’s WORC was founded by Victoria Schneps-Yunis, president of Schneps Media, to provide residential services for adults with intellectual disabilities and autism, and offers a variety of services and programs to about 2,000 people.

Six autistic women in their 20s, some coming from a different residential facilities and others leaving their families’ homes for the first time, will call the beautiful corner lot house home.

Bayla Blackstock, 20, who loves to cook and has a passion for Japanese culture, feels relieved to be in the new home.

Her mom Minzy added that she also feels relieved because she’s “safe and cared for.”

Steve and Jennifer Lapidus were thrilled that their daughter, 23-year-old Sophie, was a resident.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time, and she seems to be settling in really well,” Jennifer Lapidus said.

Steve and Jennifer Lapidus with their daughter Sophie, who is a Life’s WORC resident. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

The spacious house with a large, inviting backyard features two separate apartments with three bedrooms, allowing the organization to provide more attention to the young women starting into adulthood.

Janet Koch, Life’s WORC chief executive officer, noted that the organization celebrated its 50th anniversary because of Schneps’ dedication and tremendous advocacy.

Koch welcomed the young women to their new home and acknowledged that the move was a major transition, especially for the families.

“You hopefully will see great things,” she said. “That’s typically what we do see happen in our Life’s WORC homes.”

Koch explained that Life’s WORC is opening their 45th residence in May and has been approved for five more — making it a total of 50, in time for the 50th anniversary.

A representative of Assembly member Alicia Hyndman’s office presents Janet Koch with a Certificate of Merit. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)
A representative of state Senator James Sanders office presents Life’s WORC with a Certificate of Accomplishment. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

John Pfeifer, assistant executive director of Residential Services, has been a member of the Life’s WORC team for over 20 years.

He explained that the organization starts with a screening process to make sure that the future roommates complement each other and assists them with a smooth transition to their new residence.

“That’s sometimes difficult to the very nature of disability, but that’s one of the things that we do very well at Life’s WORC,” Pfeifer said. “We want to be all-inclusive, but we also have to put a group of people together that we feel will grow together, long into the future.”

Pfeiffer reflected on his 20 years working for Life’s WORC.

“I can remember people that moved in, in my first year and how much they’ve grown,” Pfeiffer said. “People have gotten jobs, people have become very active in their community, people have become self-advocates and outspoken.”

He also said some of the long-term residents have even become friends.

“They’re a part of my life, they know my family, and I know their family,” Pfeiffer said. “So it’s a beautiful thing.”

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