People Inc. arranges outdoor visitations for families of those living in the group homes

Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–It has been a weekend of long-overdue reunions for those who have loved ones in group homes.

“That’s the longest we have ever gone without seeing Jessica.”

After more than three months, Vickie Rubin finally got to see her daughter Jessica, who lives in a People Inc. group home in Williamsville.

“As soon as she saw me, her way of communicating is through face and screams, and she was immediately clapping hands and jumping in her chair.”

Vickie has actually been publishing a book about raising a daughter with developmental disabilities but this pandemic is a whole new chapter.

“There was no way to explain to Jessica why we haven’t seen her. There’s a whole population of families in New York State who were unable to see their loved ones.”

People like Beth Kurzdorfer who got to finally see her daughter, Grace, Saturday morning at another People Inc. Group home in Buffalo. They have been outdoor visits, at a distance, within some cases, limited contact.

Rhonda Frederick President and CEO of People Inc. says, “you kind of have to let people… It’s been a long time. It’s been three months, so a quick hug, a quick hand-holding.”

People Incorporated operates 137 group homes in Western New York. They had no COVID deaths and an infection rate of less than one percent.

“So it’s been an incredible effort by everyone. We were able to get PPE early on through the efforts of our agency along with sharing with other agencies,” Frederick added.

“The job they have done has been phenomenal, to have so many people who are vulnerable, so many staff, and they’re able to pull this off has really been tremendous,” Vickie Rubin said.

And while the visits have gone from virtual to outdoors at a distance, the loved ones seem to understand that safety still comes first.

“It can’t be about the heart even though that’s what you want, it has to be about the numbers,” Rubin added.

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