Group home workers thanked with car
parade through Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights
BY BEN VERDE
Direct service professionals
in southern Brooklyn
group homes received a rousing
thank you from a caravan
of supporters, who paraded in
their cars through the streets
of Bay Ridge and Dyker
Heights to show their appreciation
on May 21.
Workers in group homes
for people with developmental
disabilities operated by the
Guild for Exceptional Children
have been working weeklong
shifts since the start of
the coronavirus pandemic to
limit movement in and out of
the homes, and were only recently
offered monetary bonuses
after a fundraising effort
by the guild.
The caravan served as
a physical embodiment of
thanks made up of board
members, administrators, and
residents’ family members, according
“We wanted to show them
our appreciation,” said Joe Riley,
executive director of the
Guild for Exceptional Children.
Group homes like the ones
operated by GEC have been hit
particularly hard by the pandemic,
COURIER L 14 IFE, MAY 29 -JUNE 4, 2020
due to their congregate
settings and the intimate nature
of the work direct service
professionals are required to
The caravan, made up of 30
cars decked out with balloons
and thankful signage, snaked
through Bay Ridge and Dyker
Heights, stopping at each of
the homes operated by the
guild, where Riley thanked
workers individually through
a megaphone while maintaining
a safe distance of at least
“I think the DSPs were very
excited and felt appreciated,”
Riley said. “And the residents
got a kick out of it because it
was a big parade.”
Residents who live near the
group homes, which are oftentimes
located on residential
blocks, joined in on the display
by cheering and banging pots
and pans outside their homes
as the caravan passed.
Riley said the outpouring
of kindness and support
from neighbors was an indicator
of how far society has
progressed in its acceptance
of people with developmental
disabilities, compared to
years ago when opening a
group home was a source of
controversy in some neighborhoods.
“Now we are so much a
part of the community of Bay
Ridge,” Riley said. “They love
us. It’s a sign of how far society
Cars in the caravan were decked out with balloons and supportive messages. Guild for Exceptional Children
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