Fontbonne Home residents enjoy community life

From left, Maggie Pugliese, director of Family Haven, introduces the five residents of Fontbonne Home – Joanie, Kelly, Marcia, Ted and Pat – and house supervisor Melaine Eckroate. Photo by Karen Ott.

Oct. 21 was the 31st annual brunch at Wagner’s Country Inn for the benefit of Fontbonne Home, a group home in Bay Village for developmentally disabled adults. We saw a new generation of benefactors in the 155 guests who attended.

What was different this year? The menu changed, but so did the people. The Women’s Committee had organized the brunch for many years and are now retired. The task fell to board members, parents and volunteers. It was an awakening for sure, and the joy of a lifetime. 

We raised $10,000 to purchase a van to transport the residents to their jobs and activities. It was the first year we asked for individual and corporate sponsors. Their kindness helped in more ways than they know. The residents, known fondly as “the gang,” lived up to their reputation by talking about their daily lives. Everyone enjoyed hearing how they have improved over the years!

We honored Sister Jane Ockuly, CSJ, retiring from her service on the board of directors for more than 20 years. She was a spiritual role model, as well as a guardian ad litem attorney for families in trouble.   

The Fontbonne Home name is well known. Founded by Sister Genevieve Lane, CSJ, in 1981, it operates under the name of Family Haven Inc. Sister Genevieve embraced responsibility, companionship and reinforced her own focus on providing direct care to developmentally disabled adults.  

Her philosophy was that residents should “blend into the neighborhood.” It was a challenge as most neighborhoods did not want a group home. She exposed them to others in a natural and loving way and provided care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And what a neighborhood it is now… accepting the “special home” and making them part of the Bay Village community.

Today, Fontbonne Home serves five residents who are active members of St. Raphael’s Church, the Aktion Club, Knights of Columbus and Fun Alum. It is supported through community fundraising, Medicaid and the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities. 

Sister Genevieve is retired but has retained her legacy. Fontbonne Home exemplifies a “family” – ever so special. She made an effort to sensitize the public to the many attributes of persons with developmental disabilities and embraced their cause as an example for others to emulate. 

Writing this article is like writing from the heart. As the director of Family Haven, I see a lifetime of friends and room to grow. What is a better way to make a difference than to satisfy and promote the lives of others? Life is short, and lifetimes are forever.

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Volume 4, Issue 24, Posted 10:35 AM, 11.27.2012