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My Opinion on Group Homes Richard La Dieu Rich LaDieu rladieu@dgs.dgsys.com I don't know if this is the right place to post this but here goes ----

I was reading today's issue of the Staten Island Advance On Line - Letters to the Editor.

While browsing through the various letters I notices something very upsetting.

It appears there are an awful lot of new comers to the Island who are opposed to having individuals who are mentally retarded living in their neighborhoods in what is called a group home setting.

I read that Community Board 3 recently rejected plans to build a group home some place on the south shore --- I do not know where.

What disturbed me though were some of the comments I read. No In My Back Yard (NIMBY) was the call at the meeting.

Since I do not know all the facts just by reading the letters I cannot truthfully give a full unbiased opinion as to who is right and who is wrong. However, I will state some facts regarding the mentally retarded people living in group homes.

Not all group homes for the mentally retarded are properly run. Most however, are. Mentally retarded individuals, under proper supervision and medical care (this means some need to have certain types of medicine on time to control themselves) are enjoyable people to be around. Some don't really look normal (like what is normal). Some do or say some strange things (but who of us so called normal people don't do say or do some strange things).

A little true story.

Back in July 1978, one month after moving into our first ever home, my wife brought home a young girl (age 12) Her name is Marion. My wife at the time was working for a private organization that housed mentally retarded individuals. They also had their own school.

Well Marion, somehow managed to stay with us. My wife is the greatest con artist ever to walk this earth. Needless to say, Marion's first visit to our home was frightening to me. I got over it real quick.

The next year, sometime in February I believe Alan came to live with us. Well I watched as they grew up with us (my own daughter and son). We taught both Marion and Alan how to take care of their own sanitary needs, eat, do house chores etc.

They have been living with my wife and I ever since.

In 1988, I believe, there was a movement to build, or buy, homes in various neighborhoods in our county. There were several public hearings. I attended all and kept quiet with the exception of one final meeting.

Many people were opposed to having a group home for the mentally retarded in their back yard. They complained their property values would go down, crime would increase etc. Even some of my immediate neighbors were opposed to the homes.

After all these people said what they wanted to say and our esteem government leaders were ready to vote, I stood up. I went to the podium and spoke for group homes. I introduced my two children, Marion and Alan. I produced my tax bills for the past several years both Marion and Alan were living in our home. I even produced (at a cost of $200.00 to me) an appraisal of the property.

Then I informed all those speaking out against the group homes that I lived in Glenn Dale (Maryland) and that Marion and Alan were living with is for some 9 or 10 years.

Needless to say the council members voted overwhelmingly to approve the group home legislation. I was not asked to speak by any group. I just went to the meetings to listen to a bunch of uneducated people make fools of themselves.

I hope the people of Staten Island, in particular the south shore areas, wake up and smell the flowers for what they are --- flowers.

The above is just my opinion, nothing more.

Cheers
Rich



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