Tonawanda News

April 2, 2013

Respite home to open in town

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The town’s new overnight respite home for developmentally disabled children — the subject of much debate as the business will be located alongside residential property — will have its grand opening in a few weeks.

And although many on Dixon Drive voiced their opposition to a business opening on their quiet street, area companies have provided financial support to the organization sponsoring the home, Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled.

The Children’s Guild Foundation Mildred M. Seegler Respite House was started with a $200,000 donation from The Children’s Guild Foundation, and since then, the organization has received funding from more than a dozen other companies. 

“Some of the donations were monetary, and others in-kind, but all of them had one purpose: to supply and outfit the home to accommodate the children with developmental disabilities that will be staying there for overnights or after school hours,” a statement from Community Services reads.

The James H. Cummings Foundation contributed $15,000 toward wheelchair accessibility, Parkview Health Systems provided $15,000, the Maria Love Convalescent Fund donated $7,000 to support Sensory Room equipment for children with autism and other sensory disorders.

The Josephine Goodyear Foundation Fund, the Patrick P. Lee Foundation and the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation also added $5,000 towards the goal, and the Maximus Foundation donated $2,500.

Other companies also donated items, including Orville’s Home Appliances, who supplied a washer and a dryer, and Carolina Furniture, who gave the organization dining room furniture. 

Fisher Price also provided the home with toys.

A handful of Town of Tonawanda residents attended board meetings in the fall to ask for a hearing on the organization’s plans. 

Many were concerned about noise, as well as the home’s van and increased traffic. Others said the organization did not adequately inform the town of its intent when purchasing the home, and also argued that the zoning laws don’t allow for a respite home. 

But Town Attorney John Flynn said the New York State Mental Hygiene Law allows homes for the developmentally disabled to be housed in a residential area, and that in this case, a hearing wasn’t warranted. 

In response, Community Services said there is a high demand for such a home, and that the operation of the respite center would cause little to no disturbance. 

“In the immediate Buffalo area, there are hundreds of families that seek overnight respite services for children with developmental disabilities. Currently, there are only a handful of overnight respite sites in Western New York,” the statement reads. “None of these is near the City of Buffalo and all have long waiting lists.”