Nonprofit launches GoFundMe campaign for workers in New York City’s group homes

A staff member and a resident in a Birch group home, which is fundraising to help offset costs during the crisis.
Photo courtesy of Birch Family Service

Birch Family Services’ staff members are among the front line heroes putting themselves at risk to provide support for those who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Every day, they protect others from the virus while easing the burden on an already strained hospital system.

Birch Family Services, a provider of education and support services for people with autism and developmental disabilities in New York City, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to support the cost of protective equipment and increased staffing required to care for individuals with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

The crowd funding began a week ago and so far, has raised $11,255.

A staff member and a resident in a Birch group home, which is fundraising to help offset costs during the crisis. Photo courtesy of Birch Family Services

“Our staff are on the front lines every day, setting their own needs and safety aside as they heroically put themselves at risk to support our individuals in this time of crisis,” said Matt Sturiale, CEO of Birch Family Services. “We need our officials at the federal, state and local levels to recognize their contribution and provide the resources necessary so that not-for-profit providers can continue this work.”

While coping with the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult for everyone, it’s especially challenging for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to navigate the sudden disruption to daily life and routine. Many reside in group homes and have chronic health conditions, making it difficult to quarantine and ease anxiety, increasing the risk of exposure for everyone living and working in the home.

During this crisis, the role of direct support professionals and others working in settings such as group homes or supported apartments has greatly expanded. Staff have been thrust into the role of primary health care provider for thousands of residents across New York, caring for those with and protecting others from COVID-19.

“While we all consider how to best support those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, please do not forget the direct support professionals (DSPs) providing critical around-the-clock care to people with autism and other developmental disabilities,” the Gofundme page states.

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