Image shows a group of individuals sitting around a table at a restaurant. Several of them are sitting in wheelchairs

While dignity, independence, and happiness mean something different to each person, most agree that being part of their community is life-enriching and affirming. Bringing all the individuals who reside in the same Supervised Individual Residential Alternative (IRA) out to a local restaurant for a group lunch takes quite a bit of planning and a fair amount of providence, and it is extremely satisfying when it all comes together.

Image shows a group of individuals around two tables at a restaurant. Some of them are smiling for the camera!

First off, they need the right staffing. Depending on the needs of the individuals, it can take four or five staff to facilitate getting everyone into the van(s) with their mobility equipment, such as wheelchairs and walkers. The right day of the week comes into play as well. Staff check calendars to ensure that no one has to leave for a program or medical appointment. The right household vibe is a strong factor. We all have days when we are open to a fun family adventure and days when we would just rather not be too terribly social. The right weather can affect the success of a lunch date. Who wants to leave the comfort of home if there is a wild storm outside? Finally, a welcoming community is the magic that glues everything together.

Recently, the stars aligned for all the individuals who reside in one of the supportive houses in Schenectady County to have a group experience, enjoying a Saturday lunch at the 99 Restaurant in Albany. Individuals had a great time picking what they liked off the menu and staff facilitated the ordering, if necessary. Everyone relished their meals and their time out and about in the community.

We thank all our Direct Support Professionals on the front lines of service who ensure the best experiences for those they support every day. Gratitude to our community partners such as the 99 Restaurant in Albany for facilitating our mission of supporting and empowering individuals with disabilities to live with dignity, independence, and happiness!