Thanksgiving with their second family

Long Island group homes celebrate the holidays

Grace Mercurio
Posted 11/30/23

There really is no place like home for the holidays—and the residents and staff of Life’s WORC Islip Terrace House agree. This Thanksgiving, residents and staff at this group home came …

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Thanksgiving with their second family

Long Island group homes celebrate the holidays

Posted

There really is no place like home for the holidays—and the residents and staff of Life’s WORC Islip Terrace House agree. This Thanksgiving, residents and staff at this group home came together to prepare, cook, and share a Thanksgiving feast, proving that family is not only what you are born into, but what you build yourself.

Life’s WORC is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that supports over 2,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism through an array of services, including Residential and Community Services, Day Habilitation, Supported Employment Services, and more. Founded in 1971, Life’s WORC has provided care throughout Queens, Manhattan, and Long Island for over 50 years. Life’s WORC’s tenacious staff assist those with varying abilities to discover their aspirations and work toward achieving their goals, to live as full of a life as possible.

The chairwoman of the Board of Directors, Lynn Koufakis, has served as chairwoman for the past five, and has been a member of the board for 13 years. Koufakis has a lifelong passion for volunteering and has raised two adult sons with autism, leading her to understand firsthand the importance of fostering a sense of belonging and family within life’s WORC full-time residences.

“The reality is once they enter our homes, it is their home now,” shared Koufakis. “We want them to feel loved, secure, safe, healthy, happy, and hopefully have a productive life. We want them to feel like it is their home, because it is. And we try to do whatever we can to make sure it is as comfortable as we can for them.”

Life’s WORC Homes continue to foster this caring, familial relationship between residents and staff throughout the holiday season. At the Islip Terrace House, residents and staff worked together to cook and share a Thanksgiving meal together Wednesday, Nov. 22.

“The staff and the residents cook the meal together,” shared assistant manager Shannel Nottingham. “The residents help prep the food the day before, season it, make sure it’s well marinated, and help out cooking.”

As some residents work to develop their life skills and eventually move into an apartment, tasks such as buying groceries, preparing the food, setting the table, or cleaning up afterwards allow them to grow necessary skills in a supportive environment.

Since most full-time Life’s WORC residents stay for the holidays, Life’s WORC ensures that every holiday that the residents are interested in are included in the house plan. This Thanksgiving feast, the meal featured everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving food, including turkey, Brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, candied yams, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, and string beans. As the holiday season rolls on, Life’s WORC funds any Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa celebrations that the residents desire, allowing all residents to feel supported and loved with their second family during the holiday season.